Sunday, 17 July 2011


You know that 'life is passing me by' feeling? I have that at the moment. Which is plainly ridiculous since I have cleaned the bathroom cupboards out. I mean, how much more viscerally alive is it possible to be, than spending Sunday afternoon throwing 7 year old vitamins and multiple tubes of rancid Protect and Perfect serum out? I blame social networking. I'm sure I would have been satisfied with my day of wondering why I have seven tubes of Caudalie Crème de Corps Nourissantes when I have never knowingly bought one if I wasn't exposed to other people's weekends, the parties, the festivals, the aspirational shopping. It's engineered to create dissatisfaction, isn't it? Well, unless you are preternaturally well-adjusted it is. And no-one will ever accuse me of that, I fear.

Actually, I blame social networking AND my slightly too tight trousers. Everything looks wrong in too tight trousers: the world is leached of all joy. My waist and I are cinched into a perpetual loop of grumpy recrimination with each other. Also, I think, tight trousers leave me slightly oxygen deprived, the symptoms of which include "drowsiness, shortness of breath, anxiety and tension". I think "desire to eat more cheap chocolate" must also be a symptom and so the cycle continues. You may quite rightly wonder why I am wearing too tight trousers (or, far more likely, you do not remotely care why and wonder why you are still reading this, which is like your annoying auntie telling you about her gynecological complaints at length, without the slightest provocation). I am wearing them because I have mislaid my trusty Gap physiotherapist's trousers and I can't leave the house in turquoise tracksuit bottoms. Should I buy more trousers? Yes I should. But buying trousers when you are over your fighting weight and have no money is not fun. I'd go on the rob to buy myself new trousers, but I am too tired and breathless, it's a tight trouser Catch 22. My only hope is eventually the money gets so short I can no longer feed myself, and I get thin enough to fit into the trousers again. I do not actually see this happening in my lifetime. I'd wear dresses, but it keeps pissing down and the average temperature is about 12°C.

I am thinking about body shape today, because I tried to buy a swimming costume yesterday. Is there any more dismal experience for the generously torso-ed lady than trying to buy a swimming costume in a non-specialist shop? I think not. Ok, if I thought long and hard, I could probably think of a couple. But it's pretty wretched. I did it yesterday in Spa.

Spa is a small town in the Ardennes attached to a motor racetrack and a droning chanson française festival. If you can avoid both of these things, it also has a most excellent Sunday market where I found a stuffed squirrel string quartet once, and, reason for my visit, the spa. The spa is bracingly municipal, but it is a good, cheap way to sit in various temperatures of water and doze in public. There is also a series of benches under heat lamps, so you can bask like a lizard. I am very much in favour of those things.

What I am not in favour of is buying a swimming costume, but sadly it was necessary. I do not have one that fits at the moment, partly because I seem to have lost several, partly because I am expanding alarmingly (see above) and try as I might, you cannot wear a M&S minimiser bra with a swimming costume. People look at you strangely. Also, it is surprisingly hard to find a full length Victorian bathing gown. Harder than finding a stuffed squirrel string quartet, actually, which I think shows a skewed sense of priorities among the citizens of Spa.

I went to Spa's ladies underpinnings shop and found a couple of unlikely, but just conceivable, black, matronly contenders on the sale rail. I tried them on. They looked horrific. One of them got stuck around my ribcage and made those worrying "material stretched to breaking point" noises. The other one had a sort of unwisely deep 'v' in the décolleté out of which 98% of my chest was trying to escape. I tried to adjust the straps, and one of them pinged farcically off across the changing room.

The saleslady - size 6, bra size approximately 28AA - came in to offer me a couple of extra horrors. There was a purple one, and one with a hideous geometric pattern, like a dog had eaten, then vomited up, an Escher drawing. They were both over €100. I tried to suppress a sob and forced my defeated body into the Escher vomit one, which made me look like the Queen mother from the neck down, a nightmarish optical illusion. Impregnable. Shaped like an unwisely upholstered pouffe.

"How is it?" she said through the curtain.

"C'est môôôôôôche, it's HIDEOUS". I couldn't even muster enough British reserve to lie.

"Vous faites du 38, 40?" she said drawing back the curtain to look at me. She meant dress size. I was so distressed by this point, however, I thought for some reason she was talking UK bra sizes and nearly wept.

"Non! Je fais du 32! Du 85 quoi! But with a large cup size". This was not a conversation I ever wanted to be having with anyone. Ever. There should be some system where you step into an unmanned booth which scans you, then provides you with a humane, appropriately sized swimming costume. Make this happen, inventors of the world.

She tried to sidle away before I could get any more unhinged. She had nothing else to offer in any case, so she went back to folding negligées. An awkward silence fell over the shop as I muttered and struggled in the cubicle.

In the end I had to buy the one with the stupidly deep 'v'. I had come all the way to Spa, I was not going to let this put me off. It was a Large, which meant it was saggy over the body, whilst barely covering my chest. I looked ridiculous. I fiddled with the straps. Then I went up to the baths and stood in the damp, echoing changing rooms and had a little cry.

I have been at war with my body for most of my adult life. Once it started dicking me around with alopecia, I opened hostilities on the damn thing. I starved it, beat it up, filled it full of crap. I was never satisfied, never liked it however hard I worked on it or how much I deprived it. I suppose everything else became so much more important when I lost my hair; once that was wrong, I couldn't bear for the rest not to be "right"; not to be the way I wanted it. Anyway. A few years ago - I suppose around 2008, perhaps not entirely coincidentally when I started this blog - I finally got too tired, too sad, too damn bored, to fight with my body anymore. I thought of all the time I had wasted being pointlessly dissatisfied, or worrying about food and cellulite and stretchmarks, and it horrified me. Also, genuinely terrible things - illnesses and accidents - happened to people around me which made me profoundly grateful for the basic fact of my body; it worked. It allowed me to enjoy things and to look after the people I loved.

I stopped being the person who couldn't find a single thing she was prepared to eat in a motorway service station, who wouldn't eat chips to save her life, who didn't drink alcohol, who ate spinach every day, who obsessed and fretted, and body brushed, and calculated everything, even on holiday. I relaxed. I ate chips, and it wasn't a big deal. I drank wine. I had a sandwich for lunch if that was what there was for lunch. I simply stopped caring. I ate whatever was put in front of me, and if we had to find lunch in a motorway service station shop, I'd eat a Snickers and a packet of crisps and not agonise for a second.

For a long time, this felt like the most amazing revelation. It was - still is - wonderful not to be "fussy" any more, not to attach such fetishistic importance to food. But of course, you can't hit 36 eating exactly what you damn well want (and being naturally very greedy) and doing no exercise and stay as skinny as I used to be. So I am bigger. Lots of my clothes - bought when I was both rich and thin, back in London - don't fit any more. I've mentioned it here in passing quite a few times and I can't pretend it doesn't bother me a bit. It does. There are whole sections of my wardrobe that I know not to even try, and others I approach with increasing trepidation. But even so, I remember what it felt like to have a constant hunger headache, to keep a running tally in my head of everything I had eaten in a day, to feel genuinely panicky at the thought of someone else cooking for me. I remember I remember bingeing mechanically, joylessly on ice cream, knowing it was the easiest thing to throw up again afterwards. It was horrible. I know what's more important, and actually, I'm not that unhappy with my body. It's a perfectly ok shape, really. Would I like to be 10% thinner? Yes. Am I willing to go insane again to get there? Hell no.

But sometimes, and it's partly a reflex, I think, a learnt way of channeling anxiety and strain that never quite left me, I find I want to wage war on my body again. I want to cause it pain, deprive it, make it suffer. And standing in the changing rooms at Spa, I felt like that again. I felt revolting, disgusting, angry. I wanted to hurt myself. I walked into the pool hunched and weepy in my towel, sick of myself. I stood in the water, blinking back tears and picked at the dry skin on my lips until they bled.

It was Saturday afternoon, and the spa was quite full. All around me people wandered around in their swimming gear, all shapes and sizes and ages, going from pool to pool, lying reading the paper, several of them having a crafty beer and a fag outside, this being Belgium. There were babies, floating luxuriantly fat and serious in their rubber rings. There were several cadaverously thin, pale, ginger youths, their bodies almost luminously blue white. There were solidly barrel shaped women in their forties and fifties in sensible one pieces, and other women of the same age, lithe and tanned mahogany with layers of waterproof mascara, string bikinis and elaborately bleached peacock coiffures. There were men with vast bellies in tiny trunks, unselfconsciously lying legs akimbo on loungers, reading the sports pages. There were frail, stooped elderly ladies in floral swimming caps and costumes with frilled skirts, carefully negotiating the steps down into the water. There were lots of larger chests than mine, including some on men, and lots smaller. As I looked around, I could feel myself ever so slowly uncurling, the tension starting to dissipate.

There were some really beautiful bodies too. Gorgeous leggy teenagers in tiny bikinis with impossibly perfect honey coloured limbs. Bony, angular ten year olds with peach soft skin that reminded me of Lashes zooming around and getting reprimanded by the lifeguards. There was one woman of about my age with amazing red hair, who was absolutely beautiful, tiny and completely compelling, impossible to take your eyes off. But there were lots and lots of completely ordinary, unexceptional bodies. Bodies with the odd sagging bit, a few thread veins, bruises or stretchmarks, bodies like mine. There was an endless variety of tattoos, some luxuriant back hair, a range of Caesarian scars, and some ludicrously clear tan lines (particularly cyclist's ones. The Ardennes is full of serious, iron-calved cyclists in lycra). There was one man, about my age, with alopecia, like me, though he wasn't wearing a wig, of course, and a girl with a large port wine stain on her face, joking with her boyfriend in the hot tub. The hot tub was ferocious. It wobbled away lots of my anxiety. I sat next to three generations of, I think, a Japanese family, who kept laughing and taking pictures of each other.

And everyone was just getting on with it. They were just bodies, doing what bodies do. Wobbling bosoms in the jacuzzi, prominent hip bones under the heat lamps, pregnant bellies and knobbly knees, old ones, young ones and somewhere in the middle ones, all soaking calmly. After a couple of hours I fell asleep in my stupid new swimming costume, lying on my lounger, soothed by the constant sounds of the water. My tits probably looked a bit odd, determinedly trying to escape out of the sides of the idiotic swimsuit, but whatever. By 6 that evening I was deeply, deeply relaxed. Well, until I had to put my stupid tight trousers back on.

I wish I could go back there every week. Failing that, I am committed to buying a couple of cheap pairs of trousers that fit. Also, if anyone can suggest where I can find a decent swimming costume for the generously torsoed, for god's sake PLEASE let me know.


Laura said...

Lands End swimsuits (as we say in American) are obsessively "modest" but I think they come in long-torso sizes and I am sure they cost less than 100 euros.

Thanks for this post. At 38, I find myself mulling over the truism attributed to Catherine Deneuve--that at a certain point you haev to choose between your ass and your face--and thinking, "Do I REALLY?"

Lizzie said...

I had your whole spa experience for seven days last week on holiday. And I share your past with the having a good body but being paranoid about it. I want middle ground. Now, I'm almost 50, a stone heavier than I should be but does it really matter? Yes, if I'm spending so much time thinking about it, it clearly does. It's all down to self-esteem, not weight.

Julie said... has a good range of sizes. I feel like I am wearing armour in mine, probably because it's made of similar stuff.

C&A are an antidote to overpriced (french) boutique shops for stuff that nobody is going to look too closely at when skint. I feel much happier in C&A than much too tight seven for all mankinds. But I am older and often could care much less.

Lovely to read about your excellent trip to spa, wishing you lots and lots more relaxing days, regards

Mrs Trefusis... said...

Heidi Klein: the swimsuits are nothing short of miraculous. However they are also the kind of price that requires a miracle lottery win. swimsuits are utter hell. grr. Actually, Liberty London Girl had some very good swimwear recommendations at some point - and I don't think it was exclusively US based.

And being also at least 10% too big at the moment for 90% of my wardrobe, I do sympathise with the physiotherapist trouser dilemma. One day, all clothes will be made with a built in flexibility of about 15% - shrink and expand to fit - and we will all be infinitely happier.

The Ample Cook said...

At almost 52 and in the grip of menopause I feel your pain. I don't really know my body anymore, it feels like an alien has taken it over. I look down when I'm in the shower and I swear my stomach laughs at me. Actually perhaps there IS an alien in there.

Thanks for a great post.

Jane said...

Have you tried Bravissimo? They specialise in bras and swimming costumes for larger cup sizes. I like their tankinis (all the coverage of a cossie but without the hassle of a one-piece!) but the costumes look nice too...

bbonthebrink said...

I've had that 'assistant drawing back the curtain while you're practically butt naked' experience..."excuse me, can you S'Il VOUS PLAIT go away, I am exuding a noxious sweat of panic that is doubling in magnitude for every second you hold that curtain open".

This experience inspired me to go to 'les grands magasins' to search for a swimming suit. My plan to be left alone went belly up when an assistant came up to me and despite my 'non non non' grabbed my breast in her hand (oh yes she did). Her eye-brows promptly flew up and she exclaimed "Ah bah Madame! Vous avez rien!"

I am having palpitations just thinking about it.

My tip, buy your bathers in the UK if you can.

blackbird said...

I'm with The Ample Cook, and I thank you for this.
I'm also the 50 year old at the beach in the two piece swimsuit - some days I'm okay with it, some days I can't bear to look in the mirror.
It's a cheap swimsuit so there's that.

Detoured Girl said...

Mmm, this light sound obvious, but have you tried the lingerie/ swimsuit section at the Inno? Also, how about the lingerie DOD in Rue du Bailli? I bought myself a very nice one piece there, not too matronly, for about 30 EUR.... At least worth a look.

Johnners said...

Made me cry, so familiar. Gives me hope too. Thanks. J x

Macy said...

Oh god I feel your pain! I went up an entire dress size when I gave up smoking. And deep deep down in my nicotine stained heart, there's no way an improved sense of smell and extra cash in hand makes up for those extra tyres around my middle.

Jodi said...

I get it. I've had excellent swimsuit luck with both Boden and Lands End. Likewise, I've had excellent body-image luck with municipal pools.

Being sane is better than being thin but I wish I could have both.

Camilla said...

Hmm, I found that a store dedicated to sportswear was where I had to go to get a Speedo, and that was really awkward because the sales staff weren't interested in helping in the slightest, but did seem to be expecting me to take up shoplifting.

I think I look good naked (and wear a 36AA bra when I wear one) and I still find shopping for swimsuits horrible. I really fear the "you don't belong in here" in whatever form it comes in, and my local departments stores compound the issue by only stocking a selection of swimsuits in a two week window in spring.

Patience_Crabstick said...

I can relate to panicking when I know I have to eat a meal cooked by someone else, and to battling with my body--a losing battle.

As a nurse, I see naked bodies all the time. I've probably seen more penises than a typical prostitute. Bodies have all kinds of quirks and lumps and rolls, but I find I am far more forgiving of other people's bodies than I am of my own.

Funny, my word verification for this comment is EXIST.

neuroticnotes said...

I can't tell you how much I related to this post. I loved the honesty and the descriptions of everyone in the spa. It sounds like an amazing place. Have you seen the film Departures? ( - there's a scene in a traditional bath house that I was reminded of whilst reading your words.

On swimsuits and ever wearing them at all - bravo (I'm far too scaredy to venture into one at all)! Having said that, if I were to buy a swimsuit, these ones (that I think India Knight recommended) look lovely and forgiving

Finally, I recently saw two articles that you may not have seen already and somehow thought of you...

J. said...

Miraclesuit and lands end. Lands end website also has a virtual changing room feature on their site where you punch in your measurements and it gives you suggestions. I have a big bust, a long torso and a bit of a belly, so I tend to buy tankinis or one pieces (with ruching along the torso) with underwire and a halter neck. The underwire is crucial if you take a larger cup size.

J. said...

Whoops, meant shirring, not ruching. My brain is melting from the Chicago heat.

Margaret said...

Lands' End is the way to go--and they're having a swimsuit sale right now (until Tuesday). Even at retail, none of their suits are more than 60 euros.

And thanks for making me feel better about my own body. I've never been at war with it, but I've always wanted it to be different. So stupid. So, so common.

Tigerbaps said...

Dude. Bravissimo. Fantastic bra sized swimsuits/bikinis/tankinis. With bra like support.

Grit said...

recently i wore the structured bra top of a bikini set underneath a structureless swimming costume, so layering up the beachwear. it felt more comfortable and reassuring than just one or the other and felt vaguely athletic since i was quite well bound in. sadly, both were black and the straps crossed which drew no attention to the outfit at all, which was disappointing - next time, i will mix acid colours, layer the stuff up and make it fantastically obvious. i also mix old lycra sportswear with beachwear in an unashamed fashion. very comfortable.

i have come to the realisation that no-one is at all interested in my body, nor what i wear (i suppose plastic bags tied round my waist with string might raise eyebrows). i join their lack of concern.

Andrea from Neath said...

Ma pauvre. I am nearly 50. I developed boobies at 10.I have spent the intervening 40 years oscillating between hiding myself away at home eating and reading,(just popping out for supplies and bigger trousers now and again), then I enter a state called "acknowledging at one level that I have a major problem whilst stepping up the consumption of risotto, cake & sweets as any minute now I will rejoin Weight Watchers". At this point I usually buy 2 or 3 new bathers in preparation for returning to the pool at the nearest health club to whom I have been paying an exorbitant monthly fee for NOTHING for a year or so! Swimming here has several benefits,not least the fact that I actually LOVE swimming (once I get my lardy arse there!), inch loss etc, but mainly I like to bring pleasure to the smug immaculate bronzed skinnies who use the steam room and jacuzzi. After 4 decades of research I have to conclude that short fat women with mug sized, not cup sized, boobies aren't in fact meant to put on bathers at all, let alone swim. I have a large drawer full of bathers of varying sizes, I could post them to you if you like?! Anyway,now I just wear a cheap plain bather (Primark £2 in the sale!) but with a sports bra under. I wouldn't say it was a good look, but that aspect is the least of my concerns currently! The third phase (just started funnily enough!)involves going back to WW, following the eating and exercise plan RELIGIOUSLY. Hey ho! Apart from that I am a well adjusted fulfilled human being.

frau antje said...

Was not in Spa, but partaking of its intensely petulant mineral water nonetheless (also tequila and blue curacao--not my fault, two for the price of one). Installed a downspout bypass, not unlike budget heart surgery, done by a frail, stooped elderly lady.

Is the position of Minister of Housing and Urban Development still open down there? I am a member of the willing-to-spend-a-few-bucks-for-stopgap-measures-party, a party that will surely suffer its own scandals in due time.

You should go to L.A. The kind of bathing suit you need is all they have. I like the burkini myself, there's something ninja about it. Now I am going to try not to spend the day choosing between Catherine Deneuve's ass and her face.

Alison Cross said...

this post vibrated with every fibre of my being. I spend hours scouring websites looking for swimmies that will cover my bosomage and not be so high cut that you can see the messy scars from my appendicectomy. I am too white, too wobbly, too dimply, too hairy, too (ad as necessary) to enjoy myself if my body needs to be on show.

So the stripping workshop was a bit of an ordeal for me, but it showed me that most women are REALLY just like me. Just like you.

Am now off to investigate the swimmy suppliers suggested by your commenters.

(((hug))) Summer holidays are a pure bugger - can you cope with a small boy posted over from Scotland. Will bring his own Transformers and other ludicrously expensive bits of plastic.

Ali x

Anonymous said...

This post resonated so much with me that all my wobbly bits started to tremble.
I've also been engaged in a lifelong struggle with my body and its shape, size, hairiness and dimensions. Paid an utterly depressing visit to an endocrinologist a few weeks ago to try to do somethng about the insidious weight gain, only to be scolded by the doctor for entering the "obese" category rather than simply "overweight". Was warned to lose weight or face untold medical problems. Also told that I would have to attend said doctor's weight loss workshops with my husband as a condition for joining his weight loss programme (that'll be a no, then, I don't want to be scolded in front of other people, thank you). I came away with visions of the weight loss group from Little Britain, feeling far worse that I did before I went in, self-esteem at negative levels.
The worst thing is that it's not that I eat that much, or so much of the wrong things, it's that I spend most of the day working in front of a computer and have very little time to do exercise. Work stress probably raises cortisol levels and makes me more prone to weight gain too.
Anyway, enough said, I didn't mean to ramble.
I really love your blog and your writing, you are amazingly talented.

Anonymous said...

Go to Thermen Dilbeek - it is a fabulous, inexpensive, SWIMSUIT-FREE, mixed spa, just outside Brussels. No costume required, and almost everyone there is over fifty, overweight, and having a great time - no bodyshape complexes in Flanders... If you must get a swimsuit, GoSport do megacheap ones, and I got myself one in a size 36 that goes almost down to the knee for EUR 12...

theharridan said...

Our Dear Queen India has posted recently about some lovely vintage-inspired swimwear. I however, have thrown caution to the wind since birthing my little tadpoles, and I now like to strap my stretch-marked doughboy-belly into any old h&m cheap mismatched bikini and I LET IT ALL HANG OUT. Such freedom that comes with being old. before the froggy-spawn came, I never let a pastry pass my lips. Now, I eat my pain au chocolate, theirs, and the bits off the floor.
(it must be politely reiterated - your bosoms are fantastic. is all relative, no?)

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Another vote for Bravissimo from a very overweight (no-one mention morbidly, please!) woman - I've found they do swimsuits that fit even me, and I swear by their bras for a good hug - More expensive than M & S undoubtedly, but way cheaper than Rigby and Peller, sand doute)

A beautiful and brave article, mon chou, beautiful, as are you, inside and out... x

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Surely I meant sans doute! WV says snessl - Some other kind of knacki furter?

Lorraine said...

I fervently wish Victorian bathing costumes would make a comeback. Until then, I suit up in a Michael Phelps-style racing swimsuit that compresses and covers the old body from shoulder to knee.

Since I don't have an Olympic swimmer's body, I'm sure I look a little outlandish. But I don't care. It beats baring pale, dimpled thighs.

Regarding our perennial love-hate relationship with the body: I like St. Francis' corporal concept: He called his body "Brother Donkey." I feel the same way about my body: It carries things for me (including three children). It keeps going even when it's tired. It's stubborn. Willful. Uncooperative. And more responsive to kindness than beating.

vicky said...

I have a similar problem, but with my very large feet. A lifetime of self-consciousness, anger towards them, squeezing them into too small shoes, hanging out the backs of sandals in the summer, and restricted to unisex shoes in the winter. Crying as I was dragged round endless shoe shops by my Mum, finally ending up with the only pair that went up to a 9 which resembled what I thought of as a 'disabled' shoe. If I was into 6 inch red stilettos then I'd have no problem as transvestites seem to be well catered for. These days, thank goodness for being able to trawl the internet.

Much empathy!

Margarita said...

Thank you for this post. I can completely relate with all the emotions in this post. I too finally stopped "fighting" myself and my body, and just gave in. Forgot to feel guilty over too many beers and pub food and sweet desserts. It was an amazing feeling to be confident and eat what you wanted.

When the weight flew on, I wasn't so sure. And it's still the me who's eating and letting myself go versus the me that's embarassed that she can't fit in any clothing anymore.

I too have two pairs of pants. I just need to get healthy.

curlywurlyfi said...

Yes, to all of this. And to being made calmer by seeing other flawed beings in the almost-raw. As for swimsuit horror, I buy cheap ones for actual exercise swimming + for venues where no-one is watching (such as spas) from Primark for about a tenner. They are not lovely but by god they are cheap + so you do not mind when the heavily-chlorinated water rots them after about six months' wearing. I go to Bravissimo or Figleaves or even, weirdly, for the first time this year, M+S for cup-sized + nicely lined ones that you could actually contemplate being seen in on a beach.

Sarah said...

Your post made me tear up before it ended rather triumphantly. Please Please Please get rid of the clothes in your closet that don't fit, especially if you believe they'll never fit again, for chrissakes. Your closet shouldn't have the power to shame you. Dress the body you have. Go back to that spa as often as you need to to feel at peace. And keep writing, because you're the bomb.

momosyllabic said...

I'm with Sarah: get rid of the stuff that doesn't fit.
I have a closet full of pants that will never fit again (I say that pregnancy "changed the shape of my hip bones" but that may or may not be true) and a drawer full of too-tight underpants.
I'll goodwill all of it, if you will.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. Really, we can't all be supermodels all of the time. It is okay to just be human. :)


connie said...

What a fantastic post.

Anna B said...

This is my favourite blog and an very pertinent and touching post for me as I am in the process of leaving my job in investment banking and moving to south america to make swim wear. Its a massive life change but after three devastating years from a personal perspective I feel like its a choice I have to make or loose all the bits of me that make me "me". No other option.

Firstly, please tell me what you want and I will try to make it. Failing that you might want to look at the speedo sculpture range as you can buy by cup size and they are all modest and underwired and not too expensive.

Or perhaps not what you want - but Vix do an amazing bikini for larger busts called the Bia (the halter neck one is the one that's good) and they conveniently (and I think essentially) sell tops and bottoms separately so you can actually get a bikini that fits!!! Having said that this is a considerably more expensive option but I do think worth it as you only need one swim suit that makes you feel amazing (yes this is possible) and Vix are very often marked down in the sales.

Aside from that when you buy check that the fabric is xtra life lycra as that will last a LOT longer and hold its shape.

Flora Fauna Dinner said...

I love it when you write about food and bodies. I wish you would do a whole book.

Laura Jane said...

So good, so much sense.

Glad to hear peace at the heart, and a resolution to get inexpensive trousers. The tight waistbands are a constant source of reproach. Be comfortable and feel fabulous!

Please DO remove the too small stuff. and make sure your underwear fits too. Life is too short to wear tight knickers.

much love from afar (from one who has beautiful bathers in size 44, and is now 'twice' as gorgeous as I used to be) x x x

(ooh, wv is reoubsua ~Rubenesque)

Kate said...

Great great great post. Also, Bravissimo. I live in France so you can bet there aren't bras that fit me available here, and the beauty of bravissimo is that they deliver to everywhere, it's a flat fee, and they're really really good about returns. Highly recommended!

Anonymous said...

Yes. Yes, thank you, because I am 22 and I hate my body and all I have ever wanted to ask the many and many kinds of beautiful adult women is, "Is it okay? Will people still love you if you have unsightly hair hairlessness or cellulite or protruding bones or all the other things we invent that are wrong with us?"

And if the answer is "Yes. Yes, of course, yes," then I think everything is going to be okay.

kath said...

Speedo sculpture is pretty good, it is very firm and has a double layer. There is one model with a sort of empire line so it isn't like those flattening sports costumes but rather flattering instead. Takes a size off me.

Can't you run? I'm sure you said you used to when you weren't quite right. It really is very good for being able to eat like a cochon.

peekay said...

@ Anonymous, 20 July 05:28

Yes. Yes, of course, yes.

(And the fact that I don't even know that I'd qualify as any of your many kinds of beautiful, even though at 34 I suppose I'm now inarguably an adult, hopefully only makes that even more valid.)

@ Waffle - that was a wonderful post.

Anna Maria said...

Thank you for a great post (as always). I am actually tempted "to go Nigella" and get a burkini. I can totally understand why she bought it.
My husband would hate it, though (like most straight men, he is not put off by a little bit of cellulite), so my next swimsuit will be from For Luna, as recommended by India.

Eireann said...

ah. emma. i send you love from here. this is hard and beautiful and i'm glad you got to where you did in the end. i hope you can find your way there more.

Jessica said...

Beautiful writing. Spa is rather municipal isn't it? But in a way where after a few hours you don't really care, which is the best part of it.

Chantal said...

I've met you, and you are as beautiful as you are brilliant.

This post was amazing.

It took me ten years to finally not give a fuck what I look like in a bikini, and to be not just grateful but also proud of my body.

It's funny how *everyone* is suddenly beautiful when you get to that side of the road.

C x

Laurel said...

I've been wanting to come back to this for days because it is such a beautiful and touching piece.

I have read your work for a while but I never thought to link your alopecia and ED. That was particularly insightful--I have had neither but it's been sort of a revelation to think about how perfectionism in one realm can result from loss of control in another.

More generally--thank you for these beautiful and painful thoughts. I think most women have been there, to some extent. I have the world's worst cellulite and this year, at 35, it seems so much worse; I feel almost a sense of desperation about it, so that it's as if I'm going backwards rather than forwards in my attitude toward my body. But I have also had the same experience of being soothed by the ordinariness of bodies at a sauna or spa. It's as if we build the body up into something more significant than it is; then seeing so many of them, in so many different states, grounds one again into realizing that, as always, if it works well (or at least OK) that's really all that matters.

Also, funny, as an A cup many's the time I wished for large breasts, though never the way I wished away my other flaws. I can imagine they get in the way but it's very hard to imagine them bothering one as you describe. Another lesson that the grass is always greener...!

Wishing you peace in this realm, and in all others while I'm at it!

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