We live in a little beach town not far from world-renowned Cocoa Beach. It’s the home of I Dream of Jeannie, and the pubs where 1960’s astronauts would unwind after a hard day at the rocket-factory. As we were driving up world-renowned (catching a theme?) Highway A1A, an intersection was clogged with gorgeous young people in tiny bikinis, mini cut-offs and low-slung surfer shorts. Ahhh, youth!
A lone middle-aged woman was making her way across the street. She was soaked from a swim in the ocean, hair plastered. She was wearing a nice, old-fashioned bathing suit with a little skirt at the bottom. She had a bit of a suntan and she looked wonderful to my eyes. There’s one of us! I said to my husband, whose eyes were most certainly only on the traffic light at that point.
Seeing a happy, healthy 50-something woman enjoying the beautiful beach day was therapeutic to my spirits. Yes, she was out-numbered 50-to-1 by hard-bodied teens and twenty-somethings. But dammit, we not-perfect bodies have the right to be free and visible at the beach too (and everywhere else). The media would have us think we should hide ourselves, or at least our flesh, from public view after a certain magical age. We say NO. We want to catch some waves, some rays, or just sip an iced tea on the sand.
We all have to find our comfort zones at flesh-resplendent places like the beach. I would not wear a revealing bikini because I don’t feel comfortable showing that much of myself to the world. I didn’t wear one at age 22 either, come to think of it. But I surely don’t have to swim and frolic in a Burka just because I’m 50-something (unless I choose to; I’m looking at you, Nigella, rock on sister).
Life is for living and enjoying, and please, let’s not let any artificial “rules” keep us from enjoying the outdoors. Wear a swimsuit of any type you like, swim, fall asleep on your towel (do use sunscreen!), eye-ball the surfer guys if you care to. We’re Not Dead Yet.
Do you have any thoughts about over 40 women at the beach? Please share.
Didn't wear a bikini when I was a kid but now I do 😀
I think they want us to hide our flesh so they don't have to think about the inevitable. I have similar responses when I see women our age in mini-skirts. I want to snap their photo every time.
I'm 45 and I completely wear a bikini to the beach LOL. I'm not skinny but I am fit enough and fitter than I was 10 years ago and thus, I go for it. Additionally, I am trying to set an example for my 'stepdaughter' who is 13 and body conscious that it's cool to be proud of yourself if you don't look like you came out of a magazine.
Oddly, I usually feel more attractive at the beach than other places. (And it's not because my 'bod is SO swimsuit fabulous, I assure you!) The fresh air and sun just make me feel prettier — I love that beachy, relaxed, messed-up hair look that we get, you know?
We can still have fun with it even if we're not comfortable going super-bare. For me, cute coverups are part of it — cute little skirts, gauzy tops for needed sun-cover, fun little bags to carry my stuff. If we see the beach as another opportunity to have fun with style, maybe we can overcome those intimidation factors. (And if not, just enjoy the beautiful day!)
I love this post!! You are so correct. I would also add that us 20-somethings don't all have perfect bodies and feel self-conscious at the beach/pool/lake. But I haven't broken away from the bikinis yet, and I don't plan to for a while!
At the beach and everywhere!
No swimsuit at the beach, perish the thought! I personaly prefer my tankini over a one piece, they are more forgiving. However my 49 year old baby sister still rocks a bikini and she looks fantastic! And for hanging around the pool or lunching at the beach I have the most fabulous be-jeweled cover up.
Sunscreen….hat….sunglasses…a great book….waves on the sand….YES, we must enjoy the beach!! I prefer shorts to a swimsuit…but I am not going to stay home!
Love this post. I was having a similar conversation with a friend of mine who is a little too self-aware of her size. Instead of wearing her bathing suit she goes to the beach with shorts and a baggy t-shirt, the suit hidden underneath the layers. I told her to hold her head up and wear her suit as it was made to be worn – at the beach and in the water. No need to hide, no matter her age or size. – Katy
In my youth I was contemptous of skirted swim-suits. A few years back I broke down and bought one, and I love it. I don't think anyone is fooled into thinking I have wonderful thighs, but it gives me just enough grace to get me out on the shore.
Beach culture is a lot more tolerant than pool culture. It isn't unusual to see gals in the water in shorts and tanks. The important thing is to get out there and enjoy yourself!
It's funny, when I was younger, I NEVER wore bikinis. Just was never comfortable in them and also never really felt great about my body. And now, it's DEFINITELY strictly a one piece for me! I just think it's more elegant. Interestingly enough, working at a gym, I see more women in my age bracket working harder and having much more muscle tone than women 10 -20 years younger. I think that younger women are just more concerned with being thin rather than fit. But since we're all in the sisterhood, I say we cheer each other on regardless of age or shape! I've driven by Cocoa Beach before and the first thing I thought was, "Oh wow! This was where Major Nelson was!!!" Hugs to you!! ~Serene
Like Susan, I am a bit intimidated in the gym. I am usually the largest woman in my class and when everyone looks so good, it takes some courage just to go to class. I don't go to the beach, because there aren't really any beaches in KS. Mud next to a lake doesn't make a beach. I do think that anyone who wants to go to the beach should do so.
Well written, thoughtful post. Thank you!
"We all have to find our comfort zones at flesh-resplendent places like the beach." Yes, and like the gym as well. I just commented over at Already Pretty that I feel a bit intimidated working out at a gym full of olympic champion grade bodies and especially loathe encountering the female versions of these strutting around naked in the women's locker room. I must be really old fashioned but wonder what's happened to basic modesty? I still work out, put on a bathing suit to swim in the pool, and basically enjoy myself, but it's a bit unnerving!
I agree with Laura…..Awesome! I currently only do the beach in musician's garb, which in the past has appeared rather burka-ish. My whole attitude about style and my life in general is changing thanks to lovely bloggers like you. Maybe I'll try dipping my toes into the water in a cute 'something'….when hurricane and jellyfish season are over.
I spend quite a lot of time on the beach and swim when in France. I do now wear a swimsuit because I find it more comfortable and flattering. There are certainly plenty of "beautiful young people" there but also families and women of all ages and sizes. Maybe the French are more relaxed about enjoying themselves on the beach at any age.