I turn 40 this week, so Husbo is taking me on a trip to Tahiti. We are staying in those bungalows over the water and doing absolutely nothing. My holiday dreams are about to come true, and I’ve bought myself a very special bikini for the occasion.
In a strange Benjamin Button-esque kind of way, it seems the older I get, the smaller my swimwear is becoming. At 16 I used to wear my brother’s board shorts to cover up my ‘shameful’ bum and thighs, then moved onto ‘big pants’ in my twenties, before discovering in my thirties that tie side bikinis were way more flattering for my shape. Now, as I stand ready to dive into 40, I find myself the proud owner of a very skimpy bikini, with triangles that barely cover my nips, and pants that can’t quite work out if they want to be Brazilian cut or full blown G-banger. It’s like they’ve been given the green light to give me a good old wedgie, but can’t quite commit. Whatever the term for them, let’s just say, there’s a lot of visible cheek.
This time last year I had big plans for my 40th birthday – to have the fittest, strongest and healthiest body of my life. While this is a pretty positive and noble goal to strive for, I also secretly wanted to look shit hot and my reward for achieving said hotness, would be a Farron Swim bikini. I didn’t feel that my body at the time was worthy of getting around in a swimsuit with such little coverage, and I certainly wasn’t looking at all like the women modelling them in the campaign, so I denied myself. Even though I was working out with a PT at the time and was mistaken for one of the trainers from The Biggest Loser, I still didn’t have the confidence.
The past year has been not unlike my other post-baby years, with my body unable to function the way it used to. My knees, back and wrists all gave it their best shot to thwart my body altering goals, and I’m kind of happy they succeeded. I worked through my challenges and identified my limitations, a journey which has led me back to my loves of yoga and Pilates, two disciplines that work my mind as well as my butt. But it’s not just about the exercise. Being a woman, and a non-vampire, my body is also changing with age. In the last 12 months I’ve gone from having a ‘posting bikini pics for my ladies’ to ‘could I be pregnant with a Jellyman’s baby?’ mid-section. I’m not crying about it out, it’s just changed, even though my core strength is the best it’s ever been. My girls squish it with their little hands the same way I used to get into my mum’s tummy, and I love that. And I’m still going to wear the bikini.
I feel as though I’ve found a sweet spot between confidence and not giving a shit-ness. I’m not quite one or the other, as I still have insecurities, but I’m just not letting them sabotage my desire to wear pretty things. I mean shit, my bum and hips are completely covered in stretch marks from when I transformed from a string bean to ‘slightly bigger with hips’, 26 years ago. I’m also packing a matching set of dimpled saddlebags and my legs look like 3D road maps from the spider veins and cellulite, but I’m not letting any of that stop me from wearing my new wedgie pants. A bit of fake tan will fix most of those ‘imperfections’, and a good old fashioned ‘no f*cks given’ attitude will take care of the rest. I’m still going to wear the bikini.
For me, the need to get over my body hang-ups and insecurities is mostly about fashion and the style of clothes I want to wear, which is pretty trivial. However there’s a bigger issue regarding wearing swimwear, which might be affecting you and your quality of life. If you are opting out of activities and fun times with your friends and family, because you can’t summon up enough body confidence to get around in swimmers, then you need to find a way to snap out of it. The always fabulous Nikki, from Styling You, wrote a fantastic post on this recently with some excellent practical advice and just a small kick up the bum. Go check out ‘How To Feel More Confident In A Swimsuit’, and get yourself out there. In addition to this, take my advice from the last ‘My Happy Body’ post, and find inspiration from women your shape and size who are embracing life and bikinis, regardless of society’s judgements of their ‘non-model’ figures.
While I’m at it, promise me you won’t fall prey to poisonous gossip mags slamming celebrity women for enjoying themselves at the beach. I recently saw a cover featuring paparazzi shots of about 10 bikini clad female celebrities. The accompanying text read “We Want Our Old Bodies Back”. I feel a more appropriate title would have been, “Here are some photographs of famous women taken without their knowledge or consent. Despite the joy fuelled smiles on their faces, and the obvious confidence they have to appear publicly in revealing swimwear, being a pack of arseholes, we are making the assumption that these women are unhappy with their current appearance because they look a bit different from the made-up, retouched and perfectly styled figures they have previously presented in publications with better production values (and actual values) than ours. We’re going to sell more copies of this poor excuse for journalism, because we’ve programmed you to be just as judgemental as we are with this kind of bullshit, which further perpetuates our ‘women against women’ agenda. We acknowledge that you might feel these women have better bodies than you, which is even better, because the worse you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to buy this crap.” Rant over. Fight not.
While this post might be a little all over the place (just giving you an insight into the workings of my mind), the message is basically this – if you like the look of something, wear it. Life is too short to place limitations on yourself because of expectations of perfection, or the hope that one day you will be worthy enough to treat yourself to something that is well within your reach now. The opinions that you have of yourself are the only ones that matter, so make them positive, encouraging and forgiving, and you’ll start to enjoy life more and achieve all those things you never thought possible – you know, like wearing wedgie pants. Your friends and family won’t judge you, and if they do, just give them your best shit-eye and keep having the fun that they’re obviously not.
And just wear the f*cking bikini*.
*one piece, shorts, skirt, dress, jeans, shoes, hairstyle, low cut top (I’m looking at you Susan Sarandon, you fabulous woman).
LISTEN : SISQO Thong Song – or don’t, just don’t.[google4be769c92d89c3dc.html]