It’s that time of the year when we (women) are bombarded with images of “perfect” bodies in swimwear with instructions on how to get your body “ready for the summer”. This is usually followed by details of a diet, skincare or special (expensive) swimsuit that will give the impression that our body doesn’t look like our body. Our bodies are hideous, ugly and not not fit for public consumption, apparently.
The Mail Online tells us how to “get a Bikini Body in 3 weeks”
Look, even those swimwear models’ bodies aren’t good enough – they are airbrushed. Their skin smoothed, limbs lengthened, thigh gaps exaggerated. No stretch marks, no body hair, no scars, spots, eye bags or shadows and certainly no sign they’ve had a baby.
I’m 8 months postnatal with my 4th child. According to the media, my body is unacceptable. If I really must go to the beach I should cover up with a tent or at the very least I should wear a one-piece costume with some kind of magic panel to disguise the fact my body shows the rigours of four pregnancies.
Well, I say FUCK THAT SHIT!
Storm won’t be signing me up any time soon. I’m 42, 5’9″ and my BMI is at the very top end of “normal”. I’ve diastasis recti from my body growing 4 enormous babies, it also sports a couple of scars one being a thick vertical 5 inches of taught shiny tissue caused by emergency life saving surgery, plus a fair share of stretch marks extending over my belly, breasts and hips where you can certainly pinch more than and inch.
My exercise regime consists of mothering 4 kids – it’s pretty full-on. School runs (usually actually running to avoid late arrival), tearing from dance class to karate club to swimming lessons while fitting in shopping, cleaning and my paid work as a counsellor and doula all the while usually carrying my baby in a sling. Now and again I might find the time to fit in a steady 5k run but a “runner” I am not. My concern is health and fitness, not whether I look good in a bikini for the couple of weeks I might get an opportunity to wear one.
So, here I am writing this from the beautiful Greek Island of Zakynthos where I am spending a glorious fortnight with my husband and children taking a break from our busy lives to reconnect and relax. It’s always a challenge with a larger family to find activities that everyone enjoys – the beach fits the bill for us. We all love the sand, sea and sun.
I refuse to let some arbitrary measure of “beauty” restrict my enjoyment with my family. I feel sad when women feel self conscious to the point they avoid swimming with their children or building sand castles or playing frisbee etc.
Our children won’t remember our mummy tummy, our muffin top or our crepey boobs.
They will remember the fun they had jumping the waves with us.
They will remember the warmth of our body as they lean against us under the parasol while eating hotdogs.
They will remember our laughter and how much fun they had at the beach with us.
So this summer, put down those magazines and get “beach ready” by grabbing your sunglasses, your kids and some sun cream and get your badass body to the beach.