Entries from August 16th, 2011

Bodies and the Beach

posted on: August 16, 2011

Original image: “Beach” by Bosdos // 2.0 attribution license

I feel slightly dirty. During my six days in Alicante, Spain, I’ve spent a disturbing amount of time looking at semi-naked bodies at the beach. But before you call the police, trust me when I say that there was nothing sordid about it – I was simply fascinated.

As you probably know if you’ve been following me for a while, I’m all for thinking positive things about your body, believing you are gorgeous, and that there is no such thing as a wrong body, just wrong clothes. When it comes to my own body, I’ve always thought we have a pretty good thing going on, and that I first and foremost think positively about it. Still, I have thighs that rub together, breasts that need a bra to feel comfortable, and have gained 6 kilos since Christmas. I’ll be very honest and say that sometimes that can make me feel a bit down, like when a favourite dress suddenly is uncomfortably tight, or when the biggest “normal” size is just a wee bit too small (but the plus size-things have completely wrong proportions, so they’re out of the question, too).

Don’t get me wrong, at heart I like my body, but I also know how little it can take to make you feel plain wrong. Which is why the trip to Spain was such an eye-opener, and I now feel that it should be obligatory for pretty much everyone.

Remember in my post about finding beauty products, I mentioned how even though most of us know about PhotoShop, few of us actually remember it when we flip through a magazine/blog? Well, it seems I’ve fallen for the same thing, except in a slightly different way. If you think about it, when was the last time you saw a picture of a (semi-)naked body that wasn’t young, slim, tanned and pretty much hairless? Really, take a moment and try to remember. I realized that for me, the answer would probably be “never” (perhaps with the exception of a Dove-commercial or a “radical” photography in some magazine).

On the beach, however, I saw all kinds of shapes, sizes and ages. I was pretty much flabbergasted at the sight of so many different bodies – and I like to think of myself as an intelligent gal, mind, so I was also a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t considered this before. I’m not sure I can describe it to you adequately, but it was quite the wake-up call. You see, the most fascinating thing of all, was how happy and comfortable most of these women looked. Women with cellulite from their ankles to their neck, strutting around wearing nothing more than two small pieces of polyester, with faces all smiles and excitement. It was a sight for sore eyes, I tell ya.

The point of my rambling? The next time you stand in front of a mirror and catch yourself thinking “ugh” about your thighs, your stomach, your breasts… at the same time there is a woman strolling along a beach in Spain, with wobbly bits and cellulite and hairy legs and un-manicured nails and frizzy hair. She’s got a smile that simply shines, and that’s the first thing you notice about her. It is also the thing that sticks with you, long after she’s passed you by.