For those of you who follow us on twitter or instagram you’d know that I have just returned from my annual sun exposure. During which I throw caution to the wind, eat and drink extravagantly, partake in cultural learnings and observations and attempt and always fail at getting any form of ‘tan’. This year was no different and after several years of absence I headed to Tel Aviv. A city I have frequented numerous times but not for some years it was great to be back in oven like heat and to see the golden sand and glowing water that the city offers.
As we casually strolled down the street, following the curve of the beach towards Jaffa, sipping our takeout coffee and munching our delicious breakfast pastries, it was simply impossible not to feel a pang of guilt at our ‘hedonistic’ lifestyle as we watched toned, athletic, sun kissed bodies (both men and women) pound the streets, working up a sweat as they jogged merrily in 30 degree heat, before inevitably stopping at one of the abundantly available, pure, fresh, juice shacks that line the streets of the city.
Granted we were holiday makers but in reality our familiarity with the paper coffee cup is somewhat too comfortable.
As you can expect, the annual to the beach was now upon me and this meant some flesh baring too.
Unfortunately not alot rhymes with Tel Aviv and so subsequently I have not quite yet formulated a pre beach mantra like the TOWIE crowds ‘No Carbs before Marbs’ and I have no pre holiday ritual other than a last minute panic at what to pack and I certainly have no pre beach body routine or crash diet. What I have will quite simply have to do. And as I wriggled into a costume that I’ve not worn for 2 years (my last summer expedition was a press trip to the South of France revolved more around culture and wine than beach frolicking.) I was quite frankly simply praying it still fitted.
It did (n.b. to self, probably do need some kind of mantra next year to ensure one can still get into said bathing suit) and with a Kaftan thrown on over the top we headed to the beach.
As I lay on a sun lounger sipping a frozen margarita – served in the same plastic cup one might expect to find a frappuchino – I couldn’t help but admire the beach bodies around me. But I supposed what shocked me the most – judging by the joggers earlier was simply how body confident and diverse my fellow, yet native, beach goers were. At 36 degrees everyone was in beach attire and from young to old, large and small, fat and thin – everyone was out simply enjoying themselves. There were no sarongs or cover ups. No one languishing in the corner. From the beach tennis players to the volleyballers and those racing towards the sea, no one batted an eyelid at the different bodies on display.
Thinking back to the joggers earlier in the morning and now the confident display of bodies on the beach it reminded me of the last time my costume got an outing. On a girly break to Spain. A trip that saw us take on a water park. The kind where you spend all day in a swim suit of your choice in front of other humans. The ultimate body confidence test. We survived, in fact it was liberating but I noticed there too that local women of different shapes and sizes were strutting their stuff, everyone seemed more comfortable in their own skin.
Which leads me to wonder, does our climate change the way we feel about our bodies? If we had a warmer climate, where bare flesh on the beach was an everyday occurrence and not a once a year treat – would we feel differently about the way we see one anothers flesh? Is it precisely because we only see bare flesh in the media, in lads mags and porn, that we associate near nakedness with only certain kinds of silhouettes?
From what little observation I have made, I can only imagine this to play some role and while we are all now affected by the media in the way it alters our view points I’m pretty sure if we lived in a society where we saw bodies and flesh as an everyday occurrence – then we’d be less shocked or dismayed by some extra junk in the trunk.