Wednesday, August 06, 2008

bikini manifesto

It has come to my attention that some people think that people my age shouldn't wear bikinis at the beach. As MadMad says, if you're over 35 and in a bikini, you're either showing off, or you don't look as good as you think you do. I regularly wear bikinis to the beach, and I plead guilty to all three charges: I am forty, I've had two kids and I'm not a triathlete, so I don't look as good as I did when I was 16, but I look pretty good (you know, for an old lady) and in my weaker moments, I have been proud of that fact.

I want to take back the bikinis from the 16-year-olds. MadMad says those of us on the shadier side of 35 should just accept reality and wear skirted tankinis. I don't wanna. I have a position, based on my decades of experience with bathing suits.

My position is this: bikinis are comfortable. They are more comfy than anything else I've ever worn to the beach. It is my belief that if everyone were blindfolded at the beach, and if therefore the way we looked didn't matter, then everyone--fat and thin, young and old--would be wearing bikinis. In other words, womens' reluctance to wear bikinis stems from a discomfort with how they are seen, rather than an internal experience of how they feel.

Bikinis are totally adjustable. If you're feeling a little bloated, you just tie it to fit. If you want to swim, you tie it a little tighter. On a hot day, they're the best: no extra fabric around your middle making you sweat. They don't ride up in the seat, because the top isn't attached so it can't pull it up. Brilliant.

At the end of the day, though, that's when a bikini really shines. Don't you hate that feeling of walking off the beach (and then going about whatever it is you have to do next) with your bathing suit under your clothes? With a bikini, you don't have to. Put your clothes on, untie the straps, and slip the bikini off. Easy, discreet, and done.

So why should the sweet young things with perfect bodies be the only ones who can wear bikinis at the beach? Why do any of us have to even aspire to that level of perfection to be, hello, comfortable?

I have to admit that I didn't always feel this way. It was a trip to Hawaii that really opened my eyes. My brother and his family live on the Big Island, and everyone, I mean everyone, wears bikinis there. If you see someone in a one-piece, you know she's a tourist. Doesn't matter if you're not feeling fit and pretty, it's just what is most comfortable. Even the old ladies. Even the extra large old ladies. I'm not kidding.

And if they can do it, so can I.


shaun said...

I venture to say that the very large-busted would still not be wearing bikinis, for the same reason they are not wearing cute bras. You want some help carrying those bad girls around and keeping them off your tummy, and a little string ain't gonna do it. Unless you've got a little silicone in there to help out . . .

elsie deluxe said...

Ah yes... well, as you might have guessed, I am barely endowed at all, let alone well-endowed.

MadMad said...

You're right, you're right... I grew up overseas, on the beach, with everyone (and their mother) wearing bikinis. It's not so much size that is the issue, though. It's that as I've grown older, I'm more prudish... and I feel like I'm looking at naked people - and that's OK if I think you're a kid, but if you're my peer - or worse, my friend or my friend's husband! - YIKES! - I don't want to see you naked! That's all, really.

Anonymous said...

You are right. If you are comfortable in a bikini, wear one. The point is to wear something comfortable that you can swim in. If folks have an issue with how you look, that is there problem. We weren't put on this earth to be eye-candy for some stranger.

And whatever you wear at the beach you are practically naked. I think we should all be questioning our own reactions to naked bodies because they are culturally conditioned and usually not good.

I look at those little Christian homeschooled kids that have their swimming lessons after my aquafit class. They walk past a bunch of naked old ladies (I'm 44 and I'm the youngest; and at 180 lbs probably the skinniest) in the shower. This is what women's bodies look like kids. Get used to it.

shaun said...

At the risk of TMI, after DD9 was born I used to say that I delivered my modesty along with the placenta. (Which came in handy when nursing children with breasts the size of watermelon.) I'm not happy with my current thyroid-inflated belly, but apart from that I think I'm pretty indifferent to skin (mine or others') in the appropriate places (beaches, e.g.). For the record, if I were not so large in the chestal area I'd be happy going topless, were it not for

1. My family, who would be totally embarrassed on my behalf.
2. The guys who whip out their cell phones when the European girls go snorkeling topless and start ogling them openly.

I do tire of seeing ass cheeks everywhere I go, however -- aren't high waisted pants coming back? A couple of days ago I swear I saw about 5 vertical inches of buttocks on a guy sitting outside the library, making a phone call.

*That* I really don't want to see.

Plus, I'm just going to come right out and say it: penises can be kind of silly-looking at times. The times I want to see a naked penis are very specific, and outdoors in daylight is not one of them.

Oh, and my husband would totally be laughing at this comment because I have a firm "wear a shirt rule" holding that men should wear shirts outdoors at all times except at the beach. But that's consistent -- the right skin for the right time.

Anonymous said...

Well, I haven't worn any kind of swimwear since I was a girl. Maybe I'm just too self-conscious. Maybe I need to move to Russia and hang out with all the babushkas in bikinis!

Sullyce3 said...

Well, Elsie...if I had your bod...I'd feel comfortable wearing a bikini too!! Whether it's about other's perception of you or not, it's still there and if you are a fatty or not fit enough for a good bikini fit, no matter what (less some chemical way to lower your inhibiitions) you are going to feel uncomfortable in a bikini...

Katherine said...

Off topic here. Dropping by to say I'm enjoying your blog. I blogged about your blog. And I've linked to you.

Have a lovely bra-free day. I wish we could all swim naked.

Cheers, Katherine

Katherine said...

Hey, here was my lace post;

Its not exactly the same as your pattern and it isn't blocked. But close enough.

Thanks for the offer to help. I'm hoping my next lace will be easier for me. ~K

Lindsay said...

This is a fascinating topic. I have never considered wearing a bikini primarily due to self-conscious reasons and secondarily due to my assumption that they would be uncomfortable. I may have to re-think that assessment. Thanks for, as usual, giving me something to think about.

Casey said...

I love this topic. I own three and a half bikinis (long story) and, yes, a skirted tankini with a control-top panel for those times when I'm not feeling so svelte. Actually, I'm never feeling very svelte, but that doesn't stop me from showing off.

First, after a year or so of bellydancing, I have obliques! Granted, I still have mama fat, too, but it's a little more nicely defined now. I earned it all, both the baby weight and the muscles.

Second, I have a pic of myself on the beach at age 26 in a cute little gingham bikini -- no kids yet, ten or fifteen pounds lighter than I am now. I hated the way I looked. I was convinced that I was fat and baggy and just about over the hill. I was so hard on myself and worried about my appearance.

Looking back, of course, I hadn't a clue. And at 38 I refuse to be pushed around by anyone else's standards. Stretch marks, varicose veins and a little "extra" are perfectly normal. Why hide it?

That's not to say everyone *should* wear a bikini, but I think everyone has the right to choose their beach attire based on comfort and function without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

I am quite prude about butt crack at the mall, though. If you're not at the beach, put it away!

Beth said...

I agree with Shaun and that's all I'm sayin'

Well, and also...Hi:-)