I have just booked flights to Bali. I fly out on Wednesday. Which is just three nights away. Only for one week – but it’s a week in the sunshine and warmth and absolute paradise (depending where you go, anyway…) It’s probably the most spontaneous thing I have ever done because I am a serious planner, and although I am impulsive at times (ahem, shopping, and especially after a few drinks) I just like to be clear about what’s ahead of me. I like time to mentally prepare for things. And when it comes to holidays, I usually like time to physically prepare too. Yes, I’m talking about that guilt-inducing term “bikini body ready” (also known as beach body ready, same same really).
Disclaimer: just for the sake of this post, I’m going to use it in reference to the standard that we have of what our ideal body would be when wearing a bikini. But please do know that I fully believe that every body is bikini-body ready (literally, put a bikini on and you are READY!).
If I was going to be really brutal on myself, I would not consider myself to be “bikini body ready” right now. At least, certainly not to the standard that I would like to be. But will I be able to change that in three days leading up to my holiday? Of course not! But what I can change, of course, is the way I see myself. I have to say I’m pretty happy with my body right now, all the cellulite on the back of my thighs included (I’m learning to not think and worry about that) It functions well, it feels the strongest it has in a long time, and I feel good both in and out of clothes. Some people may say I’m being ridiculous and this post is pointless as I’m still relatively small etc, but I also get comments on videos and dm’s telling me I should lose weight, so not everyone would agree. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t fall prey to thinking “could be better, should be better” thanks to the images I see around me on socials, magazines, and on the television. I’m only human after all.
But imagine if I said no to a holiday because I don’t feel “bikini body ready?” and because I wanted extra time to make myself into that – whatever it means. It’s actually really really sad.
Honestly – imagine looking back when I’m in my 60s and thinking of the opportunities I stopped myself from pursuing and the things I said no to – the memories and the fun times – simply because I had this ideal of a perfect body, and the fact that I wasn’t “the best version of myself” held me back? How sad indeed. Some people may read this and think yes, that is stupid. But it happens. And it has happened. I’ve pushed holidays back a few weeks so that I have longer to physically prepare myself. I’ve turned down trips because I didn’t feel like I looked good enough to be seen in a bikini and didn’t have enough time to make myself feel worthy.
I understand it all so much: everyone wants to feel confident and feel as though they look their best on holiday. It’s only natural – especially when we’re wearing such little clothes. But I see my body naked every day. I see it in the mirror and it’s just there. It’s a body. And it’s fine. Why do we all put so much pressure on ourselves to look good as soon as other people are involved in the equation? Do onlookers on the beach really give a shit if you have an ab crack or the opposite? No. They’re probably too pissed off about the sand in their pants, or unable to see through the tanning oil smeared on their sunglasses.
Please don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with training towards a goal of looking and feeling your best on your holiday, but if it’s something that stops you from saying yes to certain opportunities, and if it’s something that makes you feel bad about yourself if you don’t hit that goal, maybe you should try and take a step back and think of what’s really at stake here. Your sanity. Because dear god, I have been there, and it will drive you up the wall. Have perspective.
The reality of being “bikini body ready” is such a myth for me anyway. No matter how healthy I eat or how much I train before, I get so bloated on the plane I spend the first few days looking like I’m pregnant anyway. My ankles balloon whilst in-flight (reminder: must buy flight socks) and heat makes me swell, so it just gets worse as soon as I’m in a tropical climate.
Also, I don’t even tan well and hate lying in the sun and getting too hot, so I’m not usually in just a bikini anyway. I don’t take bikini pictures because I just don’t (the pressure of posting them and not getting enough likes would kill me tbh) and no matter what time of the month I go on holiday, my period always magically decides to arrive anyway and I bloat like hell because of that too.
OH, and how can I forget to mention this terrible idea: in the past, admittedly, I usually cut my diet right now, and effectively used to eat very little before going on holidays so I’d look “my best” – but as soon as I’d eat any form of food beyond my strict pre-holiday diet, I’d balloon up like Violet in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory and be in agonising pain because my body just wasn’t used to certain foods any more and it would irritate my stomach. So that defeated any purpose of doing that – unless I was going to continue being so restrictive with what I eat on holiday, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to turn down a pad thai or a rendang curry after I’ve travelled 20 hours on a plane.
I look back at every beach holiday I’ve ever been on and wonder if I ever truly felt like I looked “my best” and bikini body ready – and the truth is, no. And that’s always because I put the pressure on myself to try and look my best. Am I going to be flying to Bali on Wednesday looking “my best”? Absolutely not. But this time I don’t care nearly as much as I used to, as I know life is less about what I look like in a bikini and more about the memories I make when I’m there. I FEEL the best I have done in ages. And I’m not going to let any mental images of what I “could have” looked like if ate better/ trained more/ had more time to “prepare” stop me from having the best time I possibly can.
I know I said I wouldn’t talk about bodies and body confidence again, but fuck it. Life is for living. Don’t let these superficial things get in the way of living your best life because when you are old and grey, you’ll regret letting it stop you.