My travels around the world recently took me to Marbella, where I stayed with some wonderful friends and took a much welcome and all too short break in the sun. I don’t want to bore you with my holiday snaps (none of which have been airbrushed in case you were wondering), but it is the silly season after all - and I’d like to use some of them to make a few observations.
I’m so fed up with all of the stories that appear in almost every magazine and newspaper (I usually only read them at the hairdressers, so this is probably an opportune moment to unveil my new hair do – see left). The focus is always on women’s bodies - rarely men’s you will note: They’ve either lost weight, gained weight, have just been on a diet, or strong hints are given that they should consider one. How horribly dull. I have much better things to think about than if I’ve lost so much weight (unlikely) that my nails are breaking, I’m sweating too much, my skin is too orange, there’s unsightly cellulite on my legs, or my breasts are sinking under my armpits. Are de-humanizing treatments like Botox ridding us mortals of our sanity or what?
There’s no better place to study the beauty of imperfection than by the pool – and my research has resulted in a few useful tips for sensible style in the sun. Point number one is that, if you don’t want your body to be seen, then cover it up – there are some fabulous sarongs, gowns, kaftans, kurtas and all manner of usefully designed garments out there. Alternatively, if you want to hide a particularly misshapen part of your anatomy, then find a book that matches your swimwear and hold it over said region. This works even better if you are lying down at the same time. (By the way this ex-City girl found the hot pink book rather tame in comparison to her own earlier exploits in the great male melting pot).
Third useful tip is to get in the water as it may enable you to hide the bits you don’t want to be seen. You can even wave other body parts around to distract attention.
As far as the question of diet is concerned, I’ve spotted that a lot of us do tend to eat for England when we're on our hols. One of the things I’ve noticed is that, if you go to a sensible place with some sunshine like Spain, you can also find some fabulous home-cooked food that won’t leave you hungry. Alternatively, if you do really want to starve yourself, might I suggest you pick the most expensive restaurant you can find, as they’re bound to have a fantastically minimalist meal that definitely won’t satisfy you. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the option of stomach stapling I suppose.
Almost from the day we are born, us girls are exposed to the competitive, media-led world of designer dressing. As far as poolside fashion is concerned, we can learn a lot from men’s sensible approach to holiday wear.
Isn’t it remarkable that you see men of all shapes and sizes looking totally at ease with themselves when so many of them are wearing almost identical pairs of rather roomy, brightly coloured trunks?
Okay, so you do get the odd cool dude who wants to stand out from the crowd – and there’s often the ubiquitous life guard and the occasional muscle man strutting around, but girls...
I’d suggest we take a leaf from men’s book - be more natural, authentic, relax and enjoy life, rather than obsessing over our bodies.
Of course, there are some females who dress purely to attract the opposite sex – but, as we well know, it usually takes little more than a spot of sunshine and a glass of wine to get men excited.
In my opinion, it makes much more sense to dress to please yourself - reflecting your own style, taste and personality through your unique and individual choice of clothing. By the way, if you’re the sort who prefers to wear something a little bit unusual and different from the mainstream, might I suggest some of the stylish kaftans at ShopCurious – like our curiously cool 1960s vintage emerald crocheted number.
Finally, if you're the type who's afraid of embarrassment, it might also be a good idea to test out your swimwear in advance - my chain store bikini turned a beautifully fluffy white towel a curious shade of lilac-pink.
It's also worth considering that being comfortable in your own skin is mainly about acceptance - after all, we all get old ... and everyone’s body is different.
Oh, and don’t forget to take a hat, some sunscreen and your sense of humour.