One of the reasons Australia rates as among the best countries in the world to live in, is because of our love of the beautiful outdoors, the climate to match, and our high standard of living. Many of us are lucky enough to live close to the ocean or have access to public pools.
Thinking back to when I was a teenager, sporting a teeny-weeny polka dot bikini was quite a stressful coming of age beach moment. Usually inspiring a deep sucking in of the (non-existent tummy) when friends or parents were splashing out the Kodak camera to take those photos that we would pour over for weeks after we got home. That is, after the nerve-wracking wait at the chemist while they were processed.
Or the cine film, that my father dutifully spliced together each year, following our annual holiday excursions. We’ve all probably sat through a few of those lengthy ‘moments’…
Growing up in beautiful Scotland as a child, my appreciation of Manly, New South Wales — where I live now — is endless in terms of the joys of warm weather and getting onto the beach often.
I have memories of a windbreak, and many layers of clothes and hot flasks of tea figuring prominently in my early beach holidays. And that was in the summer!
Walking now along the sand at almost any time of year, is pure heaven. Yet, it also throws up the dilemma of what to wear?
Should it be the swimming togs that the ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ squad regularly don for their local morning dip? Streamlined Speedo’s are the go generally, as they slip through the water like a shoal of shining fish, coursing their way around the bay … Or tummy-controlled swimwear, for a splash in the ocean or at an aquatic pool? Maybe, more strategic cover ups, that double as mini dresses allowing the best bits to be on show and hide the places we would rather not expose.
I notice generally these dilemmas float around within the psyche of the female. As many men seem extremely happy to walk around in next to nothing, baring every shape imaginable on display with apparently wild abandon. I must note, many of the regular swimmers of any gender keep in fantastic shape well into their mature years. I watch them with envy.
My aquatic efforts are mainly confined to my local pool and joyous aquarobics classes I enjoy every week, with a bunch of like-minded ‘bobbers’. We arrive in every shape and size, sport our swimwear without fear of judgement and bounce around to uplifting music, raising our spirits and enjoyment of life.
Post-class coffees and catch-ups, confirm the bond we share in our community. More generally, they make life feel good.
The social (media) pressures that weigh heavily on youth, starts to diminish with age. My aunt once said, while in my teenage years, that God/Universe was very wise as our eyesight diminishes as our body deteriorates, so you can’t see which bits are ageing. We have our very own Instagram built-in filter. Hallelujah!
However, it’s more than that. Sure, we might hesitate to bare too much flesh, but we don’t avoid taking part in activities because our bodies are not picture perfect. Acceptance and grace in celebrating the fact that getting to 60, 70, 80 and beyond is thanks to the bodies that have got us here.
Some have had harder roads to travel than others, but we are here. We made it!
Whatever your style, embrace it. Even the beer bellies and budgie smugglers have their place (although we can only hope it’s limited). Grab your cossie, head to your local watering hole and simply enjoy the fact you can!