Mom took this photo of me a few weeks ago on the beach in Sorrento. At first I didn’t want to post it because I didn’t like how my body looked. Pasty white and a bit tummy-soft wearing a ragged old bikini. But then I noticed all the European women around me, many middle aged and elderly, wearing their bikinis with pride, not a care in the world, enjoying the sunshine. Their sags showing, soft bellies hanging out, wrinkled, sun-damaged skin, scars and stretch marks. Both mom and I then decided not to be self conscience about our bodies.
I’m torn on the American culture of body image. On one hand we have an obesity epidemic (you don’t see many obese people in Italy; overweight, yes, but obese, no) what with all the over-processed food in stores and fast food and chain restaurants on every corner. On the other hand American women are always labeled “too skinny” or “too fat.” I weighed 98 pounds up until I was 27. That’s when I moved to Florence and gained what I called the Tuscan Twenty. But at 98 pounds, I was always made to feel self conscious, even being accused of having an eating disorder, as if that’s the only reason someone can be that thin. It’s sad, really.
So next time you see an American woman in a two piece, no matter her age or size, don’t say, “Women over 40 shouldn’t wear bikinis” (I’ve heard that one before) or “She needs to lay of the burgers.” Instead, admire her for her confidence, and strive to be like her as you age.
For me, I’m 48 and still wear a bikini. Just bought a new one in Sorrento. I don’t want to wear a one-piece, mainly because I don’t want to cover my belly piercing that I got for my 28th birthday. 💃🏻
All that said, I can’t wait to get back to eating more fruits and veggies, and less pasta, bread, meat and cheese when I get back to the States. 😉