Bottoms up

It’s been a long time since I wore a bikini. They’re not the most practical of ensembles on a beach (too much sand, and it’s impolite to readjust one’s wedgie in front of a viewing audience) and so I usually stick to a solid one-piece, better for diving and lazing and all manner of things you’d usually do on a sunny shore. But this year, I’m heading to the scorching hot, white-and-blue terraced steppes of the Greek islands, and decided I wanted to go all out. I eat right, I pay my taxes, I ain’t never shot a man in Reno, so I’m pretty sure I get to wear a bikini in climates where it’s so hot you can’t tell where your face ends and the sun begins, even if I’m not of Taylor Swiftian proportions.

If you’re not a woman over size 10 (or about a 38 or for the Europeans), it can be hard to understand the constant see-saw of thoughts that are set in motion when you begin to contemplate showing flesh in public. I’m not an unconfident person; I can attend a party solo, have commandeered the odd set of decks in order to do an interpretive dance to Fleetwood Mac, and I don’t have any huge hang-ups about my arse, but I still can’t shake that niggling feeling of not being sample size when it comes to outdoor outings. Today, to take advantage of sale season, I started looking for some bits of string to cover up the essentials on holiday and found the following pictures:

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This is not a post about skinny shaming. It is not a post slagging off women who have prominent hip bones or thigh gaps or six-packs. All women are beautiful, unless they’re total arseholes, in which case they’re not that beautiful, but on a plainly aesthetic level all women are equal. What made me feel so unsettled was that when I saw a woman who was “normal” after all the hundreds of airbrushed, thigh-gapped women, I felt a shock and it made me feel so awful to think that somehow in that brief period of searching for something and finding only objectified perfection, I had lost a sense of diversity and reality in the presentation of the female body. When I saw these bodies, that represent most bodies and most definitely fall into the representation of my body, I felt, well, a little unnerved. Should they be showing that? What will people think if I go on a beach looking like that? Shouldn’t they – and I – cover up a bit more?

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I’m a 5′ 10″, size 14, and the sight of a woman in the same realm as me made me immediately feel like I should wrap a sarong around me and duck under the nearest sun lounger. What a crock of shit our concept of fashion campaigns is. This post is only about basic photography, it doesn’t even cover the much murkier depths of higher level advertising, where extreme thinness and unreality are the norm, but I just felt I had to post something for my pals and others who might feel the same way.

We have wobbly bits, several wobbly bits, despite exercise and healthy eating and all the things we’re “supposed” to do, and I’m fully reclaiming all those wobbly bits now. I’m sticking a little flag in them, I’m the Neil Armstrong of my very own Lunar landscape and I’m going to appreciate how fucking flawless those women look in their Curve or Plus-size or whatever other euphemistically named bikinis they’re wearing, and feel fucking thrilled that I have a body that can take me to a beach, that can dive me under the water and bring me back to the surface and roll around in warm sand like the Little fucking Mermaid when she gets her legs, although that wasn’t entirely a picnic for poor Ariel either, let’s be fair.

I hate that it made me second-guess myself, but I love that I went ahead and bought 4 of the things anyway. Thighs: Prepare yourselves. Ass: Your day is nigh. Stomach: Your tour of duty approaches. We’re off to see the world, and a grand old time we’ll have too.

Old Shit Revisited: A Poor Assessment of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum Inspired By Awful Women’s Magazines And With Particular Reference To ’90s Pop Pioneers TLC

I’ve just arrived back from visiting the magnificent city of Istanbul and while there, I tried to figure out how my personally treasured but rather pedestrian photos could be made interesting to a public of some sort. Most shots were binned, but the entire time I was walking around the Archaeological Museum I had the bitchy voice of a Cosmopolitan writer in my head, criticizing the fashion choices of the women and men of the Greek, Roman and various other empires. I say men and women but I clearly mean women because Cosmopolitan hates us just slightly more than we’re even supposed to hate ourselves, according to them. Roll up your leg hair, suck in that gut and welcome to a women’s magazine’s take on some old shit (liberally dotted with references to ’90s girl band TLC).

Coronation Street called and it wants its wig back. Girl, that hair is doing you zero favours. You’ve sent us letters in your thousands about your desperation at finding a man. This hair is why you’re at home on your own eating cheese slices straight out of the packet. Careful of that cellulite…

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I said fix your fucking hair.

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These stunners are straight-up TLC: Crazy, sexy and oh-so cool. Pink mantel? Check! Draped layers? Check! But where are their men? Probably out catching food for the whole gang for a cosy fireside picnic. #paleo

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This deconstructed man just screams modern art genie Damian Hirst: Bold and brave. But there’s also a stunning fragility about his floating limbs as they’d lift you up and away from the sorrow of debating exactly how long your pubic hair should be to remain acceptable. Throw that rock away mister and wrap those guns around me any time!

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Folds of luscious fabrics here to cover those sinful days when you forgot to shave! There’s no excuse girls so make sure next time you’ve got those legs ready to rock that mini-skirt. Shave or be single; the decision is yours…

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A little extra room around the waist on this one for gassy, bloated menstrual days. Just make sure you clog it all up with expensive feminine hygiene products, then take all the painkillers God has graced the earth with and turn that frown upside down. Nobody gives a shit about your body being a wondrous reproductive machine, they just get grossed out by your blood and back pain so sort it out dummy!

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We all know this one, am I right? You wake up on a Saturday morning after Friday drinks at the new job and all of a sudden: “Dude, where’s my arm?!” Don’t fret, your boss will more than likely respond to mild flirting and even suggestions of inappropriate behaviour so go right ahead and use those feminine wiles. #noshameinbeingawoman

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Double denim? What WERE you thinking? Or is that a slashed denim jumpsuit… Whatever, you shouldn’t be fussy. He’s a man and he might want you so get those glad rags on and shimmy on over.

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Stop the lights and call the Mayor, we have a winner! Cross body elegance from our headless friend shows you never have an excuse for saggy boobs. Had children? Who cares?! Get those girls pointing to the North Pole with this genius wrap. Also, has somebody asked Diane Von Furstenburg where she got her inspiration from? Seems suspicious to me… #notcallingyoualiar

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Hand on hip: Ladies, he’s not afraid of his feelings. What a total #joy.

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Partridge penis and bull saliva are the only things you need to give your man a VERY happy Christmas! #tesco

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And finally ladies, the dream. Your robed man, handing you a declaration of his love despite your hairy, covered-up legs. Note the midriff action (can we all thank TLC one more time?).

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Apologies for my arse. Not.

A funny thing happened today. A Greek businessman called Demetri Marchessini decide to pay the Telegraph to publish a letter of his that accused journalist Libby Purves of being “pro-gay”. Well done Libby is all I can say as an introduction to this piece. The fact that you have pissed this nutter off is a wonderful sign of your writing abilities. More info on Marchessini’s letter can be found here: http://bit.ly/1cpgzgl

For now, I’d like to examine a publication produced by the author of this letter, entitled Women In Trousers: A Rear View, which tells us all how our arses are a nightmare to deal with and that we should all really reconsider our current fashion status quo and maybe just wear a sexy skirt from now on. To save you the bother of having to read this pile of shit, I’ve captured some of the best moments for you.

The introduction: Have you seen the state of your arse when backing away from a mirror, lady?

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Fuck, am I a Haute Lesbienne? Jesus Christ, I’d only ever heard of “lesbians”, what happens when you add “haute” to that? Do I go to extra-bad hell?

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Ok, I have a huge arse cos I have kids I need to pop out. That sorts everything.

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And yes, even my non-perfect legs need showing off so I can find a man-mate.

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Hmm, and it is my femininity that attracts men. Ok. Not my two degrees and ability to speak 4 languages? Ok, got it.

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Have you seen the STATE of yourself? Pull yourself together woman!

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Here is the author, so you can see how perfect he is and aspire to that.

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