For the past few months, I’ve been trying really hard to eat better and run regularly even though I despise it. The aim is to relieve stress, be healthier and look after my heart since heart disease runs in my family, but an added bonus is that I have slimmed down in the process. So you can imagine my delight when yesterday I put on my bikini for the first time since April and discovered that the bottoms were miles too big. (That and the fact that I didn’t lose them in the ocean which would have resulted in a somewhat awkward trek back to my towel on the beach!) This shouldn’t have been a surprise I suppose since I’ve dropped in trouser size from a 10 to an 8 in a good pair, so I was keen to ditch my baggy size 12 bikini bottoms and find something new to flaunt my new figure.
I don’t know whether it was my haze of new-found body confidence or merely my bad memory, but I forgot how painful an ordeal bikini shopping is. Putting aside the exorbitant price of these teeny tiny pieces of fabric that barely cover your fun bits and the hideous lighting in changing rooms, what got me most was the fact that the only bikini bottoms I could find that fitted me were… a size 12. The same size as my old “too big” pair. When another customer overheard me lamenting about this sorry state of affairs, she sweetly informed me that every year bikini sizes are getting smaller and smaller, and that she ranges in size from an 8 to a 12.
To which I ask the swimsuit manufacturers, why are you making costumes that are so small that they make women feel even shittier about themselves? It’s not about me being a 12: it’s the fact that I find the thought of wearing a bikini horrible enough, without being told that my ass is actually two sizes bigger than I thought. And what about those women who don’t try things on in the shops and buy bikinis in their actual sizes assuming that they’ll fit, only to be bitterly disappointed when they try them on later and find that they are too small?
Women have real bodies that don't match the cookie-cutter mould of the Photoshopped beach goddess who is wearing the bikini in the campaign photograph. We have lumps, we have bumps, we have hips and we have bums (I can't speak on behalf of the boob department!). Stop making us feel bad about this. I want any woman to be able to walk into a shop, pick up a swimming costume in her size, try it on and feel great about herself. Is that so much to ask?
PS I did buy a bikini today. The bottoms are a size 12 and the fluorescent lighting in the changing room highlighted my cellulite. And now I feel so sad about it all that I am no longer proud of my new figure and don't even want to wear my new purchase. What does that tell you?