Bikini summer - against all expectations

>> Sunday, 7 August 2011

What does it take to get a mid-40's woman back in a bikini for the first time in 10-plus years?

News flash; it is not, as one might think, losing a stone since last summer. I tried that; it turned out that losing weight through controlled eating is one thing, but toning up your bod is something else entirely. As I looked at myself in the mirror, it became clear that a bikini-fit body (in my humble opinion) requires exercise as well as turning down that danish pastry, dammit. (Or surgery I suppose, but I don't have access to Ms Moore's contacts or funds, sadly). Who knew?

Well, I did, actually; it's just that I buried my head in the sand and hoped that this inconvenient truth didn't apply to me. Turned out, it did (even Moscow's most flattering mirror, a pulled-in tummy and squinting at my reflection couldn't hide that fact), so pre-holiday, I sadly put my bikini away in the cupboard yet again and packed my safe and trusty one-piece instead.

And yet, here I am, on holiday, sporting a bikini.

It turns out that it's not the body in the bikini that is important; it is the country that the body is in. And Croatia, where we're currently soaking up the sun for a few days, is utterly - UTTERLY - the land of the 2-piece. To the extent that if a reasonably modest woman turns up on the beach in her 'shape-wear' one-piece she will look like a freak.

Add to that the fact there are plenty of other people on the beach who seem far less concerned about body issues than I do (even though they might have reason to be more so), and that in fact it's actually too hot for a one piece, and my only course of action was to retire to the beach-side market to source an emergency bikini. I managed that - it's amazing what desperation will do for a person's body image - and bravely wore it onto the beach whilst hoping to high heaven that a) I wouldn't scare the - metaphorical - horses and b) that it wouldn't fall apart the moment I hit the water with Boys #1 and #2 (not, for any new readers here, a euphamism for certain parts of my anatomy but simply the way I refer to my sons on this blog. Although, now I think about it...).

And you know what? Nobody noticed, or cared. There was no horrified intake of breath from the entire beach, no blasting of whistles as the body-police raced out with tent-sized kaftans to cover my embarrassment, no clicking of cameras to document the event. There was, in fact, far less interest than there would have been if I had put on the one-piece from John Lewis which I had originally intended to wear.

Mind you, whether said bikini will ever see the light of day anywhere else is doubtful, unless I can bring myself to do those sit-ups and abdominal crunches before next holiday. And the chances of that are so slim that I suspect I should just dump it at the airport as we leave...


This Mid 30s Life 7 August 2011 at 15:41  


I'm a big fan of the bikini. They are so much more comfortable than a one-piece, and how you wear it makes all the difference. And believe me - there are no toned abs here.

I went swimwear shopping a few days ago, am about to blog about it actually. It was a certain kind of torture, as it always is, but it's always nice to have a new one.

Expat mum 7 August 2011 at 16:07  

Bravo indeed! I don't even possess one, but then here in the USA, even those with fit bodies wear one pieces.

Rachel M. 7 August 2011 at 17:01  

Awesome Potty! Very proud of you!

I'm from Maryland and used to have the same bikini issues as you - even when I was in college and had nothing to worry about! I was just horrified at showing that much skin. Then I moved to Florida in 1997 and slowly became accustomed to bikini's as way of life - on the beach of course. Got so used to it that wearing a one piece is strange! Body definitely changed after two kids, still don't mind wearing bikini.

London City Mum 7 August 2011 at 17:14  

Likewise I am a big bikini fan. Just a word of warning: do not, under any circumstances, attempt to dive into a pool.
You will be left with both boobs exposed, a mangled mess somewhere around your waist, and your bottom half down by your ankles.

Oh, and as for boosting confidence, go to Rio. All sizes, all shapes, no sense of embarrassment whatsoever and EVERYONE in mini micro bikinis. Unbelievable and very liberating.


nappy valley girl 7 August 2011 at 18:19  

Well done! I haven't worn a bikini since having Littleboy 2. Partly b because of the tummy and stretch marks, partly a fear of sunburn and skin cancer (having a lot of moles and having grown up in a hot country making my risk higher than usual). Here, I now tend to sport a rather unglamorous rashguard top and bikini bottoms on the beach. But if I was in a more glamorous country, I would love to parade in a bikini, if only I had the confidence.

Sparx 7 August 2011 at 23:12  

Brill - I've found it's the same in Biarritz - half the women are tiny and skinny, the other half baggy and wrinkly and hairy... I sit somewhere in between so chocxks away!

Quite liberating really...

MsCaroline 7 August 2011 at 23:22  

It's amazing how what's going on in our minds so rarely has anything to do with what's going on in the real world, isn't it?
Just the reminder I needed today!

Angel Bean Baby Shoes 8 August 2011 at 08:34  

Bikinis are the way to go. And if you can still get away with wearing one then go for it!

LJB @ crankymonkeys in london 8 August 2011 at 12:16  

I'm just back from 3 weeks in Estonia and there everyone wears a bikini as well - young and old alike. Liberating indeed :) 8 August 2011 at 12:49  

Great post. It's weird that there's this idea that persists that you aren't "allowed" to wear a bikini because of how upset it will make other people. As if a bit of a tummy roll and dimpled thighs are some affront to nature that makes people swoon and cry.

It's made worse by the magazines that make catty comments whenever a celebrity (male or female) dares to go for a dip with an iron griddle for a stomach.

When I went to Croatia I noticed loads of people with different shapes by the pool or strutting (strutting!) around it.

Now, are you going to post a picture as well?

family Affairs 8 August 2011 at 12:51  

You go girl - just had the same problem - worse still one day was wearing a massively sponge enhanced push up bikini my daughter recommended and the next day a triangle of material that made me look as if my boobs had dissolved overnight in the swimming pool! Lx

About Last Weekend 8 August 2011 at 18:53  

That's so great to hear, yes it's all attitude. That said, my days of bikinis were long gone years ago. My friend wears them so well, she is not really toned but is really tan and never tugs or pulls or looks self - conscious. We all just need a "Croatia" in our mind...

Knackered Mother 8 August 2011 at 22:10  

Go Potty! I wore a bikini for the first time for about ten years last summer and it was incredibly liberating and so lovely to feel sun on the tum! And believe me, I have *ahem* curves.

Anonymous,  9 August 2011 at 10:34  

These abdominal exercise machines offer an aerobic exercise workout with out having to have nay high impact exercises. You will burn fat and calories twice as fast as you do with other exercisers out there because it is incorporating your entire body, not just your lower half.

Muddling Along 10 August 2011 at 11:51  

Bikinis are the way forward, much more supportive around the top and, as I've realised, nobody looks at a middle aged woman anyway so it doesn't matter if there's a bit of mum-tum on show

And anyhow, whatever they saw on the beach last week was overshadowed by the goosebumps from the cold!

Iota 10 August 2011 at 19:33  

Boys #1 and #2 as names for parts of your anatomy! Love it.

Only disappointed that the horses were metaphorical. Couldn't you have told the story in a way that made a few hundred cossack warriors arrive on horseback? Or Zara Phillips coming along to do a bit of showjumping?

I can't believe I used to feel self-conscious in a bikini when I was in my 20s and probably looked great. It's all in the mind.

Almost bedtime 28 August 2011 at 21:07  

Hi! Really enjoyed reading this post! It's good to know that I'm not the only worried about what I look like on the beach!

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