The Guardian newspaper ran a terribly serious article last weekin which it discusses the history of the bikini and describes its evolution from a form of physical liberation in the 60s to an instrument of female self flagellation in the 10s (or is it teens, or–what is this decade called?).
This is what the article said:
Today, as with many iterations of the sexual emancipation rhetoric of the 1960s, wearing a bikini is no longer associated with pleasure and daring, but with anxiety, dieting rituals and joyless physical performance.
You know, when you wade through all the big words I think they might be right. Now I can’t speak with personal experience about this because I wear a bikini all the time–at the beach, beside my swimming pool, under my caftan and I’m on the wrong side of 40 and the even more wrong side of size 10 (I also do not possess a full length mirror but do possess a great amount of self delusion). But most women I know never, ever wear a bikini. For them bikinis are not fun–they are garments of humiliation.
One of my friends has a truly stunning figure but she wears a tankini because her “stomach has a little bulge”. Another woman I know said she hadn’t worn a bikini since she was 15–25 years ago. I find this a bit sad. I look back on photos of me in my 20s when I used to complain that I was fat only to find that I wasn’t. Do you think my friend who has had the 25 year bikini wearing hiatus has similar thoughts and regrets her non-bikini wearing 20s?
I’ve just come back from Italy where European women do not worry about such trivialities as whether their body is bikini ready or not. Great grandmothers, pregnant women, children, teenagers, mothers all wear bikinis while they sit about on stony beaches nonchalantly smoking their cigarettes (not the children). They are all about fun, not worrying about who is looking at them in their bikinis. I fitted right in (except for the smoking bit).
I blame the women’s magazines though–everything from global warming to Kevin Rudd is their fault. We’ve all seen those pictures of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Tyra Banks where they’ve circled the cellulite and good old fat and labelled them with titles such as Tyra/Jennifer’s Cellulite Misery. And then we compare our own bodies to those pictures.
Do you remember the family bikini shots of Demi Moore before she got robo-hot? They pointed out all the bad bits. No wonder poor Demi went all surgery, lipo and toyboy. It was that or lay down and die in a sea of humiliation. Then the following week those same magazines run Jennifer Aniston in her teeny bikini and our collective complex reaches new height (or depths).
But the power of the bikini is so strong that any woman who is embarking on a weight loss program often cites that as her goal. Heck Kristy Alley went on Oprah wearing hers. That’s pressure–and didn’t that work out well for her? I wonder if Magda Szbanski has a similar goal? Probably not.
So this is my advice. Wear your bikini if you want. Don’t worry about bikini body. Don’t worry about lipo and body scrubs and not eating. Nobody’s going to do a Tyra Banks on little old you unless you’re Lara Bingle. And if some unkind member of your family snaps an unflattering shot on the digital camera just press delete.
Oh and repeat after me, Jennifer Hawkins is not the milestone by which I will judge my bikini body. Image