Nikki from Styling You published a series of posts for Resort Week recently. She shared her fabulous post entitled How to feel good in a swimsuit, suggesting we all build a bridge and get over ourselves, along with some excellent tips. We don’t wear our swimwear in public because we are worried about being judged. As Nikki sagely observed, it is mostly us doing the judging. Of ourselves. Very harshly.
As part of Resort Week on Styling You, Nikki shared my post entitled Can you wear a bikini in public? I backed Nikki up 100% with her body confidence message, sharing my experience of wearing my bikini in public for the first time in my 30s.
Lo and behold, Nikki realised she probably should go and “put her money where her body-loving mouth was” – and wear swimsuits in public. Well, more than in public. On the internet. Click here to read the fabulous Styling You swimsuit edition where Nikki woman-ed up and looked amazeballs in a selection of glamorous swimwear.
I’ve been having the same thoughts for a while – I should woman up too and share my swimsuit escapades. I’m OK with wearing my bikini in public, but am I ok with sharing images of me wearing my bikini in public?
I’m 40 years old. I had a caesarean section and a 10 pound baby. I’ve got chronic oedema (terrible water retention). I have PCOS. I have an autoimmune disorder that saw me with a disabled parking pass for years as my mobility was so restricted. Some days, I couldn’t get out of bed without a huge deal of effort. Exercise was above and beyond. I had to put my child into daycare for one day a week just so I could rest enough to look after him for the rest of the week. That didn’t do my muscle tone any favours. I’ve got cellulite and stretch marks and spider veins and scars. I’ve got wibbly wobbly bits and lady lumps.
I’ve also got a huge dose of “Who Cares?”. I’ve got confidence. I am smart enough to realise that a bikini with a supportive bra-like top and some high waisted bikini pants is actually quite flattering – and a hell of a lot easier to go to the loo in than a one piece suck ’em in suit with unflattering boardies over the top. I missed out on so much life – most of my 30s – when I suffered a debilitating chronic illness. I’m not missing out on any more just because my body isn’t “perfect”.
Deep breath … here we go.
I’m in the sunshine at my favourite Sydney beach. I’m smiling at the gorgeous man I love. I’m being silly and having fun. I felt like a 50s babe!
It was a beautiful day for a family trip to Balmoral Beach. I am not a beach fan – far too much sand and moving water for my liking – but the charming Balmoral Beach gets me every time. Quality real estate pervery, excellent coffee, fabulous scenery and a gentle slope to the beach with relatively calm water. The Blokefolk tell me there is also excellent fish viewing, but that involves putting your head under the water and that’s a step too far for me!
A little story to illustrate how other people’s opinions can affect you – or not. It’s up to you. Do you really care what other people you will never see again in your life have to say?
As I was leaving the water to fetch coffee and a hot chocolate for Boyo, I overheard a group of chaps setting up their kayaks. They nodded towards me (discreetly, they thought) and said that one of their guys wasn’t likely to leave the beach now. I chose to take it as a compliment, smiled inwardly and continued on my way. Just quietly, I was quite chuffed!
A short time later, having had fun on the beach with my Blokefolk, engaged in some people watching and ogled some very expensive yachts, I overheard a comment made by a passing woman to her friend. Pointing me out, one of them muttered to the other a comment about my body being the reason tankinis were invented.
I could have been crushed. I could have wrapped my Turkish towel from neck to knee and scuttled shamefacedly back to the car.
Instead, I stood up straighter, smiled at them and tied my Turkish towel around my waist. I didn’t hide my (apparently offending) tummy nor cover up my boobs. I chose to ignore it. What did I care what two Mean Girls had to say? I have to admit I was shocked and a bit taken aback. Rudeness of the highest order. That’s their problem, not mine.
This experience actually made me more determined to wear my bikini. In public. Again. My body isn’t perfect. Far from it. It’s let me down a hell of a lot over the years. I’ve always said if I was a horse, I’d be a glue stick by now. But it is still here. It is still keeping me going. I’m still loving, living, laughing and having fun.
At the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing?
Why am I sharing a photo of me wearing my bikini in public?
I’m still not quite sure why myself! I think the main reason is that I wanted to back up my own words by “putting my money where my body-loving mouth was”, to borrow a phrase from Nikki.
I don’t usually get to see women who look like me in fashion magazines. I can see very tall, very thin models, and I can see plus size models – who are frequently very tall and beautifully proportioned – but I don’t see too many average size, average height women. I think it is important for the everyday woman to see everyday images. My image of me wearing my bikini in public might make you think, hey, if she can do it, so can I. It might make you think yuk – but that’s your issue, not mine.
There are so many restrictions on us in our daily lives – including the ones we put on ourselves. I’m proud to stand up and say I’m not perfect but I’m proud to be me. I’m loved by some very special people, and am honoured to have some amazing women in my life that I call my Gorgeous Girls.
I’d like to thank Nikki for the opportunity to write for Styling You – I still pinch myself every time – and for the fabulous body confidence, body loving message she stands firm on.
Rachel from Redcliffe Style shared her swimsuit feelings (and a stunning photo) here and inspired me to actually hit that publish button.
If the only thing putting you off wearing your bikini in public (or your togs, swimmers, bathers, cossie et al) is worry about what others will think about you, ask yourself this one question. Why do you care? You are way too fabulous to worry about Mean Girls!
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- Images by Kim-Marie Williams
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