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I’m back in a bikini after 20 years!

SOME have a pathological fear of spiders or killer clowns. For me, it’s wearing swimmers. That’s right, I dread donning small triangles of Lycra! Bikiniphobia, if you will. And I know I’m not alone. Mention the word bikini to most women and they break out in a small sweat and then spontaneously list every reason why their body isn’t good enough or ‘ready’ to wear a two-piece.

And who can blame us bikiniphobes, when only one very thin type of body shape has been used to advertise them, or deemed the right fit for them. Or that the terms ‘bikini body’ and ‘beach ready’ have been bandied about for far too long, making approximately 99 per cent of us feel like we are some sort of dreadful swamp monsters — too fat, too old, too hairy or with too many stretch marks to qualify for our swimwear licence.

However, thankfully, in 2017 this notion of perfect beach bodies is beginning to be challenged, one tiny swimsuit and gorgeous curvy body at a time.

Whilst Instagram has at times been the source of body shaming and ridiculous images of Photoshopped celebrities, this year has seen the rapid rise of several body-positive bloggers and campaigners championing women of all shapes and sizes, such as @bodyposipanda, @bodyimagemovementand in particular @stylemesunday’s Warrior Woman Project.

You only need to take a look at any of these accounts to realise what a positive response and welcome change they are making.

So, inspired by these women and this movement, I decided that this summer enough was enough, I would stop hiding under my saggy black onesie and making excuses and I would brave the triangles of truth and tackle my bikiniphobia head on. That’s right, for the first time in 20 years I bought a bikini and plunged myself into the pool of the public eye on my recent Italian holiday.

Excuse the pun, but it did ‘take a lot of guts’. My body is so different since I last braved a two-piece — it’s bigger, hairier, covered in stretch marks and those weird skin tags, but to hell with it, I thought.

When the big day came and I teetered out wrapped in a towel, then managed to unveil myself and walk across a beach in a shiny spotty bra and pants (from Figleaves, a 38G bra and big pants) I felt… brilliant. All those fears I had, and insecurities I had built up, were finally put to rest. I felt I had won an international prize for bravery.

To be perfectly honest, nothing happened at all, no one stopped and stared or was physically sick by the sight of my middle-aged midriff. No one turned and pointed at me or laughed. Just like everyone else, I enjoyed the water, the sun on my body and the post-beach ice-cream. But, I was a changed woman, a braver, stronger woman for doing it.

So, if you’ve been a bikiniphobe forever and want to give it a try — just do it, get those curves out, women!

■ Helen Thorn is one half of comedy duo Scummy Mummies, @scummymummies, scummymummies.com. Her favourite bikini brands for all sizes are Curvy Kate, Figleaves, Boden and Bravissimo