I’ve been away to Cyprus and Greece recently, and I of course bombarded my social media with photos of my holidays – particularly which bikinis I had on. I have got to the stage wth my body where I like to just share things without feeling brave or talking about a time when I would hide myself away. I do not mean this in a superior way, I simply mean that when I share I share to show what I have on, not to share that I even dared to wear it like I used to do – and for me that is progress. Progress away from the idea that I am doing something tabboo when I don a two piece. Progress because in the past it would to terrify me to walk through a beach with my legs out. And by stating these things in a caption I felt braver, stronger, ready to take on the world. Whereas now, I just feel like any other vain beach goer – here I am, this is me, take it or leave it. I am more than my size. It doesn’t define me. And it doesn’t mean that being the former is bad or worse, it’s just that for me it feels like progression.
And maybe this makes me brave. Maybe it makes me confident. But whatever it is that I have, people see to covet the same attitude. My flurry of bikini snaps are often accompanied by my followers lamenting their own bodies, cursing their Mummy tummies and bingo wings, tearing apart the vessel that holds their soul, their humour, their heart, and declaring it unfit to be see in such small amounts of clothing. They yearn for bravery, for courage, for confidence. And it makes me feel so incredibly sad for them. There is life to be lived in a bikini. Waves to be jumped, sand to be felt underfoot, tan lines to be examined and ice cream to be dripped onto exposed bellies in the burning sunshine. These small pleasures should not be reserved for the few who have bodies that society deems to be acceptable. A plumper figure should not mean a life half lived, holidays spent sweating in layers for fear of ridicule from beach goes who are often far more interested in taking selfies and tanning their butt cheeks.
People do stare at others. They do point, they do laugh and they can make judgements based on appearance. And yes, it’s so easy to say “Oh ignore them” but we all know how hard that can be. And so my advice when it comes to beach babeliness would be to get comfy in your own home and around people who know and love you to start with. Buy cute swimwear, take selfies, sunbathe with friends at the park and work your way into feeling so happy in your skin that those few little stares do nothing. Follow body positive babes, ignore shitty magazine that reduce celebrities to ‘orange peel thighs’ and ‘double chins’ and start seeing how your body can be beautiful, but also how it doesn’t define you. Do you chubby legs tell anyone that you got 5 A*s at GCSE? Does your large bum make it obvious that you also have a large heart? Can your double chins ever tell the story of the night you held your heartbroken friend until her tears stopped flowing? Does your size denote your bravey? Is the way your tummy jiggles when you laugh important when you compare it to the lives you grew inside there, the way your body nurtured and protected tiny vulnerable seeds until they were perfectly formed?
Life is too short to wait until you are 100% happy with your body before enjoying the joy of swimwear on a lovely beach. There aren’t enough summers left to wait for you to stop finding faults with your body, reasons to not bare your arms, your legs, your tummy. You have as much right to be on the beach as anyone else, and the stares are often never as bad as you might anticipate. Your body does so much for you. If you are able bodied, it carries you around. It gives and receives hugs. It gives and receives pleasure. There’s really no reason to cover it up in shame and say “one day I will wear/do/be like that” because you are wasting time.
Give it a go, you might be surprised.