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.
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.