Buying my first Bikini



Two steps to a bikini body?

Get a bikini and put it on your body

I love this.  I have been quoting it for years.

And yet, I reached the age of 33 without ever buying a bikini.

‘Why not?’  says hubby.

It is a weekday night.  Hubby is unexpectedly home for a few days; I have mentioned this to Naomi and we are going to theirs for dinner.   Toddler (now 4) really, really loves clinging nervously to the side of swimming pools and I mentioned this to Naomi too, so we are all going swimming after school / nursery pick-up.  It’s my half-day; pick-up’s in thirty minutes.  We are in the clothing section of a cheap supermarket because I just remembered that I don’t have a swimming costume.

There are two main styles of cozzie in the shop.  The one-pieces are floral, low-cut at the top, have ‘skirt’ details over the hips and, on closer inspection, don’t go down as low as my size.

The others are all bikinis.  I don’t wear bikinis.

‘Why not?’ Says hubby.

I take a big inward breath and tell him why not.  Bikinis come in two pieces, for a start.  You know how frustrating it is looking for a matching pair of socks?  You know how frustrating it is to find your swimming costume whenever you need to swim?  Well, combine these two frustrations and there you have a bikini.

And then there’s the size:  my chest changes size all the time, with the time of the month, my muscular coverage and general fatness.  My bra collection ranges from tiny padded decorations to reinforced heavy-restraining apparatus, spread over two back sizes and at least four cup sizes, all of which I have worn within the last two years.  So how useful – actually – would buying one single bikini be?

And you know the trauma of finding a bra to fit?  How the assistant marches in and tries not to look curious about your insulin pump and measures you and says confidently ‘You’re a thirty-four C luv,’ before bringing one through that’s really ugly and doesn’t fit, then going off to get a D and coming back to find that that doesn’t fit and then going off to find a… *ahem*.  And how bra-fitters portray enviable personalities – not only cheerful, but focused –  so inevitably you get tired before they do and end up settling  for something they think isn’t quite right?  Well imagine all that, for a bra-like construction that people are actually going to see – imperfections and everything – on the outside.  And we’re on our own with 25 minutes left?  This is so not going to happen.

Furthermore, it’s only just Spring. I’m still embracing my winter grooming routine.  I’ve got hair – well, in lots of places.   And to be honest, there will probably still be hair there in August.  Not to mention the cannula poc-marks all over my tummy, or the purple mark where one of them became an abcess a couple of weeks ago, or the very inoffensive rash that my doctor thinks might be still be something-or-other-rosea and nothing to worry about, provided that it disappears in the next fortnight or so…..

And anyway,’ I think of something else.  ‘It’s a supermarket.  No changing rooms.’

‘They’re over there’, says hubby dismissively.  ‘Hey!  We can look out for your colours!’

He passes me a little balcony number in several sizes.  I mutter something feminist, and toddle off.

When I come back, I am spitting.  ‘Look here!  When you go swimming you need to do this,’ I lean forwards and reach in front of me with both arms.  ‘THIS is simply not possible.  What is the point of a bikini you can’t do THIS in.  If you’re going to be sitting on the side looking gorgeous I heartily recommend it (and I did look gorgeous by the way).  But if you want to navigate across a swimming pool lying down either way up and using your arms in any way at all…..

‘Not that one then,’ says hubby blandly.  ‘Here?’

Twenty minutes later I am still at it.  It’s a spookily quiet time in the shop; every time I manage to get a few bikinis back on their hangers and deposit them on the reject rail, the ones I placed there a few minutes ago have already gone.  I have grunted to the assistant ‘This is the LAST TIME, I promise‘ at least four or five times now.

Suddenly she knocks on the cubicle door.  ‘Are you the lady trying on bikinis? Your husband’s gone to pick the kids up.  He says to give you this.’

Black.  Yellow and pink flowers.  B-C cup.

‘Er- Nah.’

But suddenly I realise something.  Have all the bikinis he’s handed to me been a completely different size to the ones Id been asking for?   I remember one that might have been OK, a bikini or three ago, had it fitted……

‘Last time,’ I say to her, get dressed yet again and toddle back into the shop.

What sort of wally doesn’t double-check the sizes?

Anyway.  I have a bikini.  I’m not posting a picture of it here, because frankly you don’t need to know what it looks like.

What matters is that I found one I felt generally comfortable in.  And that I could swim in, too (or at least, hang out at the edges in, with Toddler).

Putting it on isn’t the easiest.  I’ve always been proud of the way I approach bras – none of this do-it-up-with-the-hooks-at-the-front-then-swizzle-it-round awkwardness for me.  But I have to admit defeat with the bikini – at least while supervising two children in a family changing room (‘Toddler don’t drop your pants there you’ll need to put them on afterwards’ and ‘Tiddler!  Toilets aren’t for splashing in!‘)

But let’s not detract.  I found a bikini and put it on my body.  I went swimming in it at a posh hotel and it wasn’t at all scary.  Or remarkable.  There wasn’t even much looking speculatively in the mirror.

I’m actually wondering what the real reason is that I didn’t do it years ago.





A late Happy Hogmanay (hungover)

Marrying a Scot has advantages. I didn’t have to hire any formal men’s attire for my wedding. I have an acquired immunity to poor weather and long car journeys. And of course, Scotland is just a beautiful place to go and visit. It might be cold and dark at this time of year and full of midges throughout the summer, but it is atmospheric: misty lochs; castles; people juggling clubs in the street; mountains covered in snow and that cobwebby moss that dangles from branches. It’s always a delight to visit my family because of their glorious homeland…. oh, and their company, of course.

They have lovely voices. Go into the deepest, most depraved housing estate you can find in Scotland, find a room full of people and close your eyes. Even the ‘common’ accents there have the lovliest lovely lilt to them (as long as you don’t need to understand them, it’s fine).

On returning to England, I find that I can suddenly talk authoritatively about whisky even when I don’t have a clue. I go into shops with dodgy-looking twenty pound notes and feel smug and contemptuous when Yorkshire shopkeepers understandably refuse to believe they’re legal tender. I can tell stories about haggis with a straight face (there’s even a herd of vegetarian haggis, harder to catch but more ethical), enrich my general conversation with words such as ‘wee’ and I could, if I’d wanted to, have named my children pretentiously Scottish names (those who can’t think of any can watch The Family Ness for inspiration).

However the best perk of marrying into Scotland is that the Scots know how to celebrate New Year. And I, despite being one of the grumpy English, am firmly of the opinion that New Year should be well celebrated. New beginnings, self-improvement: clearly good for the soul.

So. We swallowed the best part of half a bottle of champagne before the twenty-course meal. I managed half a bottle of wine during it, a certain amount of Port or Baileys in between with a fair few glasses of some rather nice, aged and deliberately obscure single malt afterwards.

Dancing started with the Gay Gordons and the Dashing White Sergeant and ended much, much later with Solid Gold Cheese. On the stroke of midnight, Auld Lang Sine was sung (peole even knew the words for the second verse and some hokey-kokey-style running into the centre was obviously indulged in), everyone kissed everyone else in the room; Chinese lanterns sailed through the air; fireworks streaked and scattered across the sky. Walking barefoot to the clearing or lochside to watch the fireworks, on freezing cold ground, is something I do every year and every year, I wish I’d worn my shoes.

What else happens every year? People laugh, people cry, people kiss and of course, people dance or sit and watch other people dancing. They exchange gossip and argue about politics and put the world to rights and tell scandalous stories that they possibly shouldn’t. Eventually they pass out, one by one.

The next morning, those with kids are up at the crack of dawn (or at least, my husband was), choosing the best deserts from the night before for their breakfasts because it always pays to break diet-related New Years Resolutions early. (Tirrimassu and Trifle. Delicious, thankyou). There is a two-day Bank Holiday in Scotland so the following night we were still there for haggis, neeps, tatties, cheese and chocolate and the leftover booze.

So if I missed a post last week, it’s because I was too busy to worry very much about femminism, body image and so on. We also spent a few days stopping to eat and drink to excess with various relatives on the way back home. But you’ll be pleased to know that I did get this picture (explained in my last post: do read it if you haven’t) and that I did go for a run.

My perfect Bikini Body: I have put a bikini on my body

My perfect Bikini Body: I have put a bikini on my body. Spot the insulin pump.