Summer is coming and that inevitably leads to talk about beaches, bodies and a combination thereof.
When the internet chatter ramps about our not-quite model-esque “bikini bodies” there appear to be two camps:
- We are chasing an ideal that we never quite achieve and therefore keep ourselves under wraps, learning the best ways to camouflage our flesh, or
- We join the “loud and proud” brigade where we flaunt ourselves, gorgeous curves and all and be damned anyone who dares judge.
But perhaps those apparently opposed views miss the point.
Last summer I wore a bikini for the first time in a long time. And I looked okay. No-one really cared. I realised that it wasn’t a big deal and in that nonchalance I found some body confidence. I also realised that if I wanted to wear a bikini, I should just damn well wear a bikini. Not for any political reasons or because I was sticking it to the man. But because I quite like a bikini.
I don’t want to push the agenda that we should all bare our flesh in order to promote a more realistic body ideal. Because, let’s face it, we aren’t all comfortable with that. Hats off to the ladies who do it — I LOVE them. They are awesome and they should be celebrated.
But the woman who is happy in her one-piece or wears a t-shirt in the water should be celebrated too. The women who are dressed for how they approach summer in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Let’s face it – bikinis aren’t always practical and they aren’t for everyone.
What I love seeing, even more than women embracing their beautiful bodies by wearing bikinis, is women using their beautiful bodies. Going surfing, swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, making sand castles with their kids and walking along the beach. If a woman wears a bikini doing all that – good on her. If a woman wears a t-shirt and boardies doing all that – good on her.
I think the summer focus on our bodies, whether it’s the “Oh God, I need to lose 10 kilos and fast” or the “Let’s all just get into our bikinis and celebrate our gorgeous selves” both come with their own brand of pressure. This idea that our bodies, what we do with them and how we dress them, have an agenda of their own. I actually don’t believe my choice of swimwear is anyone’s business but mine.
My personal philosophy is to do things for my body because I love my body. I think exercise, diet and body image need to come from a place of kindness. It’s a shift from the hard sell by main-stream media. They seem to rely on self-loathing rather than self-love as the primary motivator to change the way we eat and exercise.
There is a baseline assumption that we view our bodies with contempt. No wonder there is a movement to rebel against that. But I don’t think we need to collectively all wear bikinis to do it.
The kindness I extend to myself includes pushing myself out of comfort zones. And that kindness should extend to other women as well. So wear whatever the hell you want on the beach. Just have fun and love yourself while doing it.
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