Beach Body Bollocks

Summer is coming – and so is beach body bollocks. I am, of course, referring to the utter hysteria on the front covers of pretty much all ‘women’s’ magazines – ‘how to get the perfect beach body’ or ‘look good in a bikini’ or ‘ten tips to look hot this summer.’ It’s bollocks. And here’s why.

First, articles like this serve no purpose other than to reinforce ridiculously high standards of beauty or a ‘desired’ look. And they are ridiculously high. The models or celebrities used for such articles look like that because it is their job to look like that. It would be nigh on impossible to have a personal trainer, dietitian, make up artist, stylist, hair stylist – and still look like Vicky Pollard.

The average woman in the UK is a size 16. She is 5 foot 3 inches tall and weighs 11 stone. How many magazine covers can you find that feature ‘beach body’ women of that size or weight? Go on, have a look. I’ll wait.

Oh, what’s that? None? Thought so.

(And no, I am not bashing naturally slim women, or on women who put in the time, effort and money to look a certain way. By all means, you be you.)

What I am bashing is magazines that perpetuate this myth that you MUST look like a bronzed goddess straight from an underwear shoot in order to swan about on a beach in a daring, on trend two piece.

Second, I can more or less promise that the magazines that feature such articles will almost certainly have a whole section devoted to the utter scandal that is celebrities without make up or in unflattering clothes. Oh, the horror. An A-lister without a full face of make up. Pearls will be clutched.

Or not. But my point is, it’s just more negative reinforcement. If you don’t look a certain way, you don’t pass; you deserve to be lambasted; you aren’t good enough.

I say this is bollocks.

I’m a mum. I am the average size 16. I have stretch marks, I have cellulite, I have wobbly bits. I have the ‘mum tum.’ I don’t tan very well; I just get very red in places which only serves to accentuate the milky whiteness that is the rest of me. I’m probably not going to have a full face of make up when I hit the beach this summer. And I doubt like hell that I’ll be completely body hair free either.

But that is not going to stop me. I will have my beachwear on, and I will be proud. This body has produced an amazing little girl. A little girl that is going to grow up being influenced, like the rest of us, by what she sees in the media. But she will also be influenced by me. And what message does it give off if I sit on that beach with shorts and a t shirt on, sweating like crazy? If I feel I have to cover up, I have to breathe in, I have to hide myself and be ashamed? It reinforces that negative message once again. The thing is, I really really don’t want my strong willed daughter to grow up feeling like she should be ashamed of her body. I don’t want her constantly dieting, or comparing herself negatively to people who are paid to look amazing. I want her to be healthy. And by healthy, yes, I mean making wise food choices (everything in moderation!) but I also mean mentally and emotionally healthy. I do not want my daughter to suffer with the same poor self esteem issues that I have. I want her to be proud of who she is, and how she looks, no matter how she looks. I want her to realize that actually, she has value as a whole person, that she is more than just a physical body.

And I have come to realize that in order to teach her all this, I must first embody it. This has been difficult for me, and I suspect that it will take a while before it becomes easier. Today, I went bikini shopping. I found something I thought I liked. I tried it on, and took a couple of pictures, but I was unsure. When I showed my husband the pictures later on, he said he thought it looked lovely. However, the more I looked at the photos the more I didn’t like it. I felt self conscious and fat. To the point where I actually deleted the pictures.

When I went away and thought about it, I realised that this kind of thinking is exactly what I need to stop doing if I am to be a positive role model for my daughter.

I am going to go beachwear shopping again. I am going to go somewhere nice, that has really lovely stuff.

And I am going to buy a fabulous, funky, bikini or costume.

And when I wear it, I am not going to think, ‘Oh God, look how fat I look.’ I am going to think ‘Oh wow, look how fabulous this bikini is! What a gorgeous colour.’ I am going to have to make an effort to think that, but it will be worth it.

So, join me this summer. Say no to beach body bollocks. Wear something fabulous because you love it, not just because it covers you up or has a tummy control panel. Get your jiggly bits out and relax. Be unashamed. And if anyone tries to give you shit or shame you, tell ’em to bollocks.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s