Can you wear a bikini in public?

Editor’s note:  Yesterday I lay down the swimsuit gauntlet and suggested quite strongly that we all need to build a bridge, get over ourselves and drop the practice of dissing our bodies. They deserve our love for what they do every day. My friend and blogger Kim-Marie from Kimba Likes takes our little bridge-building lecture further today with her case for the bikini.
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I’m not 25. I’m not even 35 anymore. As I’ve gotten older, my knowledge isn’t the only thing that has expanded.

My waist has virtually disappeared, thighs appeared in my 30s, my curves have curves, and nine years after I’ve finished breastfeeding, I’m still waiting for my boobs to shrink. I don’t have the “perfect” bikini body. But every summer, you will find me in a bikini.

Why? Well, I may not have the perfect bikini body but what I do have is confidence – and quite a healthy serve of “Who Cares?”.

After spending most of my 30s being bossed around by chronic illness, I refuse to give up my 40s too. It’s my body and I’m in control of it. It doesn’t spring back quite as well as it used to, and weird things are happening like pimples and wrinkles and the odd chin hair all at the same time.

For all those years that I did have a size 8 bikini body, I was utterly convinced I was fat and far too ashamed to appear in public wearing a bikini. The first time I’d really worn a bikini was when I was pregnant – I had such a big bump that it was the only option.

In my mid 30s, I spied a brand new bikini on the racks of a designer consignment boutique. It was in my size and I needed new swimmers.

I bravely tried it on and to my amazement, I actually looked OK in it. I’d even go so far as to say I looked good.

I vividly remember the first time I wore my bikini in public. I took a deep breath and ventured onto Balmoral Beach with my husband and preschooler son.

I realised how much cooler I felt without most of my torso swathed in sweaty fabric. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my belly. The freedom.

I felt vital and brave and, dare I say, sexy.

Can you wear a bikini in public?

Women often have these thoughts about a bikini. What will people think of me? I look far too awful to appear in public in a bikini. How embarrassing. Everyone will point and stare. I’m too old. I’m too fat. I can’t find one that will fit me.

Pssst … I’ve got a little secret for you. No one actually cares. No-one is looking at you with distaste. They’re too busy having their own body confidence crisis or reading their magazine or tweeting or snoozing in the sun or trying to prevent their toddlers from running straight into the surf while simultaneously trying to prevent their babies from eating handfuls of sand.

Next time you’re at the beach or the swimming pool, have a little look around you. For every woman you see that you wish you resembled, there is more than likely a woman sitting there looking at you and thinking “I wish I had her figure”.

You can’t help but be inspired by Brittany Gibbons, a fab US  blogger, whom I discovered after her Good Morning America bikini interview.

In 2011, Brittany stripped to her swimmers on stage when speaking at TedX. Brittany was then inspired to wear a bathing suit in public once every year.

This year, she upped the ante by donning a bikini. Not just in public, but on national TV. In today’s social media climate, national TV is now international. Now that’s brave.

The one thing I haven’t mentioned is that Brittany isn’t your typical bikini model. She weighs about 97 kg. And that bikini? She looked hot! She’s a very pretty girl but most of all, she’s confident and doesn’t think she should have to hide herself away. Bravo!

Sure, our bodies might not look the way we wish they did, but they’re still beautiful. They’re strong and vital and sexy and damn it, they’re ours. Mine survived chronic illness and brought my gorgeous Boyo into the world. What wonderful things has your body been able to do? Let’s celebrate our bodies and wear what we want.

Be brave and wear a bikini

1. Ginja Malibu Soiree E Cup Grecian Tri bikini top $94.95 @ Swimwear Galore | 2. Ginja Malibu Soiree Retro Pant $69.95 @ Swimwear Galore | 3. Seafolly Gelato Hat $49.95 @ Swimwear Galore | 4. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser Creme Compact SPF 20 $65 @ Adore Beauty | 5. BECCA Beach Tint $33.60 on sale @ Adore Beauty | 6. Seafolly Bella Rose High Waist Pant $69.95 @ Swimwear Galore | 7. Seafolly Bella Rose DD Cup Balconette $119.95 @ Swimwear Galore | 8. ExfoliKate Body Intensive Exfoliating Treatment $75 @ Mecca Cosmetica | 9. Chelsea by House of Harlow 1960 sunglasses $179 @ The Iconic | 10. Kiehl’s Creme de Corps $28 @ Mecca Cosmetica

Tips for shopping and wearing bikinis

  • Visit online shops for inspiration and ideas before you hit the shops. Forewarned is forearmed.
  • Go shopping during a week day early morning or after lunch. You’ll get better service when there are fewer customers. Avoid late night shopping and weekends.
  • Measure yourself properly so you can check online size charts.
  • Buy in bulk from online shops, try them all on in the comfort of your own home, then return the ones you’re not keen on. I recommend buying the same style in several sizes. Just make sure you check their returns policy first! Try Sequins and Sand who stock gorgeous resort wear, swimwear and a fab plus size range and offer free returns.
  • Personally, I’m not a spray tan fan (whatever I do, I always go orange) but a faux tan is a great confidence booster.
  • Posture, posture, posture. Standing up straight instead of slouching instantly makes you look taller and more streamlined.
  • A good bra lifts and separates and instantly slims the torso. A bikini top with underwire and support does the same thing.
  • Mix and match is a great option for bikinis. I always buy swimwear separates, often from different brands.
  • The retro 50s pinup styles in vogue at the moment are perfect for girls who aren’t skinny minnies. High waisted bikini pants with side ruching teamed with halter neck underwired longline bikini tops are fabulously flattering and bang on trend. Check out this gorgeous Two Tickets to Paradise bikini in Pacifica Botanica signature print from Bombshell Bay (I may have ordered this one, just quietly).
  • Exfoliated and moisturised skin looks better and will help boost your confidence.
  • Throw on a glamorous sunhat and oversized sunnies. My top tip for avoiding hat hair is to tie a vintage silk scarf over your hair and wear a loosely fitting big sunhat over the top. Channel the vintage glamour of bikini babes like Sophia Loren.
  • If lipstick makes you feel better about yourself, then there is nothing stopping you from wearing it on the beach. Try a tinted SPF lip balm.
  • You’re going to need moisturiser and sun protection, so why not wear a tinted moisturiser. I’d rather wear a bikini in public than appear barefaced.
  • Revel in the feeling of freedom and bravery! It’s your body and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of it.

SY reader questions

Q: Why isn’t there an excellent bikini maker that makes bikini tops like bras? I lost 45kgs then breastfed two kids. My boobs need support! Sally

A: Sally, you’ve lost an entire person (perhaps a short teenage girl) of weight. That’s amazing! Breastfeeding takes a big toll too. The good news is that there ARE bikinis that will give you support like bras. Check out Swimwear Galore for brands like Seafolly, Freya, Moontide, Baku, Isola and Fantasie, and Sequins and Sand for Capriosca. Some of them even have bra sizing so you can get the perfect fit. I always say the higher the boobs, the slimmer the tummy!

Do you rock a bikini? Think you could give it a go this summer? 

Kim-Marie Williams is the editor, stylist and consultant at KimbaLikes.com, where she chats about Family | Fashion | Frivolity – the things Kimba Likes! A retro cute stylish individual with a passion for fashion, a beauty junkie and opshopper extraordinaire. 

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  • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

    Go on, you can do it! x

  • dramaqueen

    Next summer I will be another year older and a bit more wrinkly – so heck – this is as good as it gets right now so I will wear my bikinis baby!
    I realised at about 40 that no-one cared about how I looked but me. Everyone is fighting their own battles with their health and self-image.
    You live once and need to enjoy every second. Chuck on swimmers, get in the water and dive into living.

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Save the drama for your mama, DramaQueen! Love your attitude! x

  • http://soniastyling.com/ Sonia

    Kim-Marie, I love you. Seriously, lady – I need to read this post everyday now just for bikini confidence, but for general confidence. I’m 29, short, curvy, my stomach is far from flat, my thighs touch (no “box gap” here) and I have boobs. Big ones. However, I have a body that has survived spinal surgery and is still going strong. We are getting a pool at our place, so there’ll be lots of swimsuit time. I was thinking I should just get a one piece, but after reading this I want to get a bikini. And I want that Ginja Malibu one!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Not as much as I love you, Sonia! I was amazed once I started trying them on how much more flattering a well fitted bikini can actually be. As a fellow EnormoBoob girl, I find swimsuits aren’t usually as supportive as a quality bikini top. The retro cute styles around at the moment are awesome too!

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I usually wear a sun shirt so my bikini top is old and ill fitting – I really should get one that fits!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Yes, yes you should!

  • Mindy Roestenburg

    I am loving all the interest these posts are generating. Imagine the revolution we could start if we all just get out there and wear bikinis. It’s not really a surprise that having two children born only 15 months apart has resulted in a lot of stretch marks. My poor body only had a 6 month break between pregnancies but if that is the price I pay for my two beautiful children and the special bond that they share then as you say I am blessed.
    I find that a lot of normal bikini bottoms seem to cut across my tummy in just the wrong place so I am loving that there are more options around for high waisted pants. I think that is what I will be wearing this summer.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Mindy, I was the same with my first two – 17 months apart – and 18 and 17 years on it’s the least of my body issues. There are lots of high-waisted designs around and they look stunning.

      • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

        My tip for high waisted bikini bottoms is to go a size bigger than you would usually wear. This works for me as it doesn’t dig in. Ruching can be your friend too! x

  • Angela

    It’s my thighs that I hate revealing, for some reason I don’t really care that my tummy is a bit slack and pouchy – it grew my 3 babies! But my thighs, well, no excuse there – they are just ugly! I really loathe the cellulite and massive varicose vein that I have. Weirdly, I don’t really care so much what strangers think but I hate my gorgeous husband seeing my thighs!

    Tips for this???

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think you know the answer Angela … you need to be grateful for those thighs. They get you places every day. There’s a whole lot of negative talk that doesn’t need to happen .. when you start flicking those thoughts out they stay out x

      • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

        Hear hear! x

  • http://slapdashmama.blogspot.com.au/ SlapdashMama

    I love Brittany Gibbons too – My stomach is RUINED by babies, SOOO stretch mark riddled, I just CANNOT bring myself to wear a bikini. I know. Chicken.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Not ruined. Blessed. #justcallmeoprahordrphill

      • http://slapdashmama.blogspot.com.au/ SlapdashMama

        Oh you are so right though! Well, the kids are the blessings. The stretchies…not so much :-)

  • http://www.styleandshenanigans.com/ Vanessa

    Love this article KM and Nikki. I too wasted my younger years lamenting a body I would be very happy to have now. Great tips and great advice. xxx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Too true … and what will we think in 20 years time of our body now!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Silly, isn’t it! Ah, the wisdom of youth! x

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I am going to try one on at least Kim-Marie as I approach the bog 5 0 I don’t know if I can pull it off and my tummy is the part of me I like the least,I have had 2 children and one was huge and they both left ne strectch marks as presents one lot vertical the other horizontal, but I promise to try one on and find one I like on me and at least rock it at home when I play “resorts” in my pool! Thankyou for this post it is so true European women wear bikinis until they die I think and they look hot ,I just think you need the confidence some faux bronzed skin and a smile and a touch of lippy :)

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      You can do it Lisa! Bikini and Camilla kaftan :)

  • chrisatpb

    Hi Kim-Marie, what an inspiring post and positive comments. I’m in my 50s and after Nikki’s, equally inspiring post yesterday, headed over to kini to design my own tankini (have worn a one piece for years and years). But now thinking might skip the tankini step and go straight to bikini. Though I must say buying it is one thing, gathering the courage to wear it is another. I might have to come back and read these posts and comments again before my first outing!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Christa – do it – I’ve got the high-waisted pants with ruching from Kini and they are all kinds of forgiving!

      • Jazzy K

        Looking forward to you seeing your posts with them Nikki :) – have had a play on their designs myself -

        • StylingYouTeam

          Stay tuned …

  • Cheekie chops

    Love Brittany Gibbons, hooray for her and her positive influence, she did looks great and she is smart and beautiful inside and out.
    It would give me great joy to see us as liberated as the Europeans on the beach during summer, wear what you like and what makes you feel fabulous and free and enjoy your favourite gelato flavour too. Viva la difference!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Ooh, I’m up for gelato! x

  • http://vicky-lifeonthehill.blogspot.com.au/ Vicky Finch

    After a 17 year hiatus I have started wearing a bikini again and feel wonderful. You’re so right Kim – I’m celebrating my body. I grew three human beings in it! It’s amazing, I’m amazing and it deserves to be honoured and celebrated

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      You’re singing my song, sister! x

  • Brooke {Slow Your Home}

    Ladies, you have seriously inspired me this past week. After hiding my mummy tummy in a one-piece for 4 years, I may just give the old bikini another go. We’re headed for Thailand soon, and the bonus there is – no-one else knows me! I may just discover some body confidence while we’re there.

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Brooke, you are so right! I got up a lot of confidence when on holiday in Fiji a few years ago when I realised that everyone, no matter what size, shape or age, was wearing a bikini. And it was too hot for anything else! Practice makes perfect. I don’t have the tummy I had when I was 25 … but that was 15 years ago. I don’t have the same hairdo either (thank goodness!). Enjoy Thailand! x

      • Brooke {Slow Your Home}

        Thanks, Kim! Will report back (hopefully with a nice bikini-shaped tan). x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Go Brooke!

    • http://vicky-lifeonthehill.blogspot.com.au/ Vicky Finch

      Do it Brooke! Don’t wait 17 years like me. Do it now. :)

  • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

    Thanks so much for having me, Nikki. I love being bossy about body confidence! x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      We’re on a mission Kim-Marie!

      • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

        A mission from Bod?! x

  • http://www.styleunearthed.com/ Sarah – Style Unearthed

    My stomach is a part I prefer to hide – two kids and two surgeries have resulted in stretch marks and scars. I am trying to work up the courage to go board short-less and bare my legs. This Summer…

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Do it babe! You’re about to turn 30. Take control. You will feel much less hot and sweaty without a layer of extra fabric. PS, I have stretchmarks and scars too, and a wonky belly button from surgeries and a 10 pound baby. When I was in La Jolla on holiday recently, I chatted to a woman in her 60s rocking a bright aqua bikini. Definitely didn’t have the perfect bikini body but she exuded contentment and confidence and I’m going to grow up to be her! Love Your Body – we only get one. x

      • http://vicky-lifeonthehill.blogspot.com.au/ Vicky Finch

        “Love Your Body – we only get one”
        Spot on!!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      PS – Would that be Legs Unearthed?! x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Do it Sarah … the boardies make you look much older and bigger than you are! Yes, I’m being blunt because I know you can do it!

      • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

        Hear hear!

    • http://www.styleunearthed.com/ Sarah – Style Unearthed

      Yep, Legs Unearthed :p I found some gorgeous swimmers yesterday so I might treat myself to a new pair and bare my legs. I don’t think you’re going to get a photo though!