The summer holidays have always been my favourite time of year. It’s a time when we’re not working to a schedule and life is just organic. Beach hair, the subtle sting of the sun on our skin, fresh oysters washed down with a cold glass of chardonnay at the endless social gatherings of Christmas time. I especially love summer fashion too with floating beaded dresses matched with a pair of espadrilles and an assortment of matching bikini’s.
I was sharing these sentiments at a recent girls lunch when one of the guests announced that us 40-something women were too old to be wearing bikinis, (which flies in the face of those stunning shots of Helen Mirren holidaying in Italy). I was truly perplexed at the notion that there was some kind of expiration date on women wearing a two-piece. Here I was, in the prime of my life, feeling more beautiful and confident than ever before, and apparently society is telling me to cover up my middle-part because it’s offensive.
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Now I’ll be honest with you, things are most certainly not what they were. My stomach is soft and when I sit up there is most definitely a roll or two, (or three). Would I like it to be firmer and flatter? Hell yes. Do I lose sleep over it? Most certainly not.
Never one to conform to societies expectations, I trotted off to my local swimwear store determined to buy myself a pair of bikinis for summer. Shopping for swimwear is like a trip to the dentist, its painful and expensive, but the relief you feel once it is done is so empowering. I was lucky to find a gorgeous sales girl to help me and as I was there at 9am there was no one else in the store, (all premeditated). We went through the racks grabbing what we thought would suit and whilst I was determined to rebel against any restraints, I did shy away from the string bikini bottoms that went more up my butt than over it, (for everyone’s sake).
So who is making these rules? The Daily Mail has published a survey suggesting when women should stop wearing certain items of clothing and amongst the list were bikini’s. According to a survey of 2000 women between the ages of 18 and 65, once a woman hits 47, she should stop wearing one. And what makes this even more shocking is that women are the ones who are actually putting these restraints on other women.
I left the swimwear store that day with a gorgeous two-piece from Seafolly and proud of myself for not being influenced by the opinion of others. My body is a miracle. It’s strong and healthy and has carried two babies. It has been tortured and neglected as much as it has been nurtured and pampered. I know this body better than I know anything else in the world because it is me and to feel ashamed of it is to be ashamed of me.
Our bodies are breath-taking works of art, regardless of our age, and like all works of art they vary. Some forms appeal to some whilst other forms appeal to others. Therefore, there can be no rule against wearing a bikini at a certain age and to those who find is offensive, like in a gallery, if you don’t like what you see then just keep walking until you do.