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By Kenton Greening (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A mosaic of Roman women playing sport, Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily.

What a difference a few metres can make. It’s summer in Melbourne, and for many that means sun, sand, and salt, spending time on our bay and surf beaches. I was in Rye the other day. For those who don’t know it, its on the Mornington Peninsular, south of Melbourne. As you travel south towards the heads of Port Phillip Bay the land narrows (peninsular!) and the long stretches of beach are only a few metres from the shops and houses that line the beach road. On a hot day the beach and streets are buzzing with people enjoying the relaxed summer vibe. Whilst I was in one of these stores in walks a young woman in a string bikini. As I notice her I am struck by how NAKED she looks. Context is everything. If she had of been a few metres away on the sand she would have looked distinctly less NAKED. So what’s the go here? It struck me that clearly there is a generally accepted consensus  that when you leave the beach you add a little more to your body. There were definitely other woman around wearing very little, perhaps just a pair of short shorts, a skimpy singlet top, even just a pair of thongs. Yet there was still a big difference between how NAKED they looked and how she looked. The other influencing factor here is body size. She was very normal. Not terribly over weight, but definitely not thin. A voluptuous girl. It’s pretty unusual to see a woman shaped like that naked in the streets. Another consideration is the amount of fabric that constitutes the bikini, this one had a rather minimal amount. I’d love to include an image, to illustrate my point BUT do you know it’s really, really hard to find an image of a girl in a bikini that is available to use AND appropriate! That might be another blog post…

Now I personally (in hindsight – I was a little taken a back at the time) think she should be applauded for being so comfortable in her own skin. There is no way I ever could have walked around like that. Yet she was clearly completely comfortable and unapologetic. Realistically, it would be amazing if we were all as comfortable and accepting of ourselves as she appeared to be. Another part of this I find interesting is that we are all quite accustomed to seeing complete strangers nearly naked in media and advertising. Whilst I do recall hearing of the odd billboard that has been forcibly removed due to the nature of its content being potentially incompatible with safe driving practices, in general we still see a fair amount of skin in every day life, out and about. But it is sooo different when it is hot, sweaty, and jiggling next to you, isn’t it?

I listened for an accent too – Australian. Reason being for this is when I Iived in Bondi years ago I would see many tourists similarly clad (or unclad!) fairly regularly, also when I traveled through the Mediterranean regions. This just illustrates how different cultures have different unwritten codes around what is the social norm. Yet we all have them. We have them because these codes provide a degree of comfort to the majority. But society and social conventions are constantly evolving. I remember when I was a small girl that it was very common to see males walking around with no shirt on. Now with our understanding of skin cancer that it relatively rare, although not exactly head turning. I hope she had tons of sunscreen on!

So what if this had of been a guy? Walking around in one of those European man-style thong bathers?  Now that would have turned heads!

Cheerio,

Bella

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I consider myself to be relatively in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to my own body image. As a child, teenager and in my twenties I spent more time thinking about my body shape than I do now. I think that’s probably pretty normal. Whilst I have always stressed about the size of my thighs, my lack of a waistline and heavy arms, I never got involved in dieting to extremes, somehow still having an inner picture that whilst I didn’t look like a model, I was still ok.

I started working out in the school gym as soon as it became available. This was partly due to a shy nature, it was a good way to keep myself occupied in a constructive way at lunch times, and partly due to the threats of one of our sports teachers. I will never forget Miss Moore. Athletic, deeply bronzed olive skin, petite in height and frame, swinging thick black hair and a take no prisoners attitude. Intimidating in many ways. I’m sure she had good intentions. However when she told my year 11 class that in her experience and opinion by the time we were a year or two out of secondary school most of us would be overweight and unhealthy and it was all down hill from there, I was alarmed. As a young woman with increasing body consciousness it struck fear deep into my heart.

I developed an unhealthy and unrealistic vision of the body that I wanted to achieve and started working out. Now when I say the body is unrealistic and unhealthy, well that all depends upon your perspective. If I was able to achieve that body, I feel quite sure that I would be very healthy and fit. However from the starting point that I had, and my genetic make up, it would take a good deal of hard work, dedication and discipline.

Over the years I have realized that whilst I have continued to work out, take care of my health and desire to improve my health and physique, I have never had the depth of desire that would drive the levels of effort and discipline necessary to achieve that body.

In the mean time I have traveled, worked, played and generally lived. A lot of the time there were elements of life that negatively contributed to the state of my health or fitness. Late nights, unhealthy meals, alcohol etc. All very normal, nothing extreme, but all an important part of my journey.

In my late twenties and early thirties I had children and whooo man. What a challenge that can be! I became enormous! With the first pregnancy, I was comfort eating for two, in shock about the impending changes to my life. With number two, well I never really lost a lot of the weight from the first pregnancy and then she was a huge baby. So by the time I had finished pregnancies, births and breast feeding my body barely resembled my body from before.

I found this time immensely challenging. I was exhausted, over weight and to be honest depressed.  Around this time,  I trained as an Image consultant. Learning about body shape and creating a more desirable body shape through clothing spurred on my desire to change, this time with a different focus on maximizing my ability to dress the way I wanted to. In my head it was less about my health and more about my perfectionism in crafting a look.

After a few years with this approach I started to become aware of the messages I was passing on to my girls. Some of the thoughts that emitted their lips alarmed me. In respect of them, I won’t share but it made me rethink some of my choices in life.

Over time I believe I have managed to get myself back into exercise and an acceptable level of fitness. I have been very fortunate to have the support and encouragement of not only a great partner but some wonderful fitness professionals. I no longer hit the gym five times a week, realistically I only manage three at best. But I believe my attitude to my fitness and my body is more sustainable.

However, I am no pin up girl. I still have a considerable spare tyre around my waistline as well as excess kilos all over. What has changed is that I now accept that. I know that I could be fitter and slimmer and have a pretty clear concept of what would be required of me to get there. I continue to look after my diet and exercise but what has changed is the nasty little voice in my head has got quieter.

So here is the thing that has subdued that nasty little voice.

I have two beautiful, intelligent, delightful daughters. Like most mothers I try to be the best role model I can, to guide and encourage them to recognize and value their uniqueness and to understand and accept the diversity of people in their world. I have tried hard to raise them with a healthy diet and a healthy attitude to sleep, exercise, food, indulgence etc etc.

But what they have given me through no fault or intention of their own is acceptance of myself. In my experience most parents at some point realize that their children are fundamentally different from one another. Whether that be through genetics or environment and a desire to differentiate themselves from one another and their parents, over time they develop their own interests, personalities and…. physiques.

My girls are both lean and muscular. Not highly motivated in competitive team sports but both very active and more interested in personal goals and achievements. One has definitely inherited genetics from her father with a very small frame, lean muscle and little body fat. The other, it’s harder to pinpoint but she is also developing a lean muscular frame. The differences in their frame were pointed out to me by a pediatrician when they were 3.5 and 2 years respectively and I struggled to see the difference at the time. Now its obvious.

The point is they are who and what they are as a result of many different factors, genetic and environmental. Despite living in the same house, with the same food and parents they are increasingly different. They are both just as beautiful, healthy and lovely as one another. Just different. And so am I.

To finish, as a women there also comes a time that when you realize that if your very slim, narrow hipped, 13 year old has moved into size 8 ladies jeans, then it is perfectly reasonable that your 40 something, curvaceous, muscular, post two children butt will best be accommodated in something substantially larger. And that’s OK.

 

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Over the last two years Jo Jenkinson has quietly but doggedly worked away on her new book ‘The Lure of The Beach’ a history of sea bathing in Brighton.

Published with the aid of a Local History Grant from The Victorian State Government, it relates stories including the days of the early horse drawn bathing machines, debates over decency on the beach,  competitive and leisure swimming at Brighton and most popularly the brightly coloured bathing boxes that dot the shoreline.

For the launch of the book Di Reidie, society president and I, had a delightful time digging through the archives finding vintage gems to display. Sadly, many of the best fashion gems did not make it to the floor, as it was preferable to include as many items with provenance as possible, as well as limited time, and mannequins. However, having had a chance to familiarize myself with some of the wonderful pieces, from circa 1900 until the late 1980’s, I would love to be able to put together a proper more exhaustive exhibition.

If your looking for swimsuit inspiration, make sure you make an appointment to visit the collection.

Copies of The Lure of The Beach are available directly from Brighton Historical Society or from selected bookstores. (hint – particularly in Brighton). See the website below for opening hours.

http://www.brightonhistorical.org.au/index.php/resources/costumes

bathers 2 high res

Bathing Costume details

Collage One (Top of page), from left to right:

1920’s swimsuit. Black Wool with lace up front and cross over back straps. Worn by Jessie Dell of Hampton. Donated by Merilyn Case.

1960’s Watersun swimsuit and white rubber bathing cap. Blue bri-nylon with built in bra. Worn by Katherine Blair of Brighton. Donated by Katherine Blair.

1970’s Watersun gold lame swimsuit with matching cape. Made in Australia.

Circa 1900 black cotton two piece swimsuit.

1930’s Black Lance swimsuit. Blue ribbed wool with cross over and tie up back straps. Worn by Dorothy Wells of East Brighton. Donated by Dr. William and Helen Wells.

Circa 1970’s black and silver lurex swimsuit and cover up.

Collage Two, left to right:

Circa 1960’s red and white striped bathing cap, bathing bra and trunks

Circa 1970’s Watersun three piece green cotton beach ensemble including embroidered skirt, bolero top and swim bra.

Circa 1970’s black and white zebra print two piece swimsuit.

Circa 1970’s turquoise hounds tooth two piece swimsuit

1940’s Cotton multi coloured floral beach play suit. Worn by Jean Jennings. Donated by Nola Jennings.

Circa 1970’s multi coloured two piece swimsuit.

Cheerio,

Bella.

 

 

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StyleLikeU is my favourite place to hang out. Time spent online is precious for me. It’s busy juggling all of life’s commitments.

But this is a place that opens its heart and arms, welcomes you in and gives you a virtual hug. All the people featured here are amazing, all striding their own path and tackling each obstacle with dignity. It embraces people, all kinds of people. Gives them a voice and celebrates their uniqueness. It’s my favorite place to be.

And now…. they want to make a film!!!!

To travel far and beyond and bring StyleLikeU to more people.

Whoo hoo! I wish you every success from the bottom of my heart Elisa and Lily. You two rock!

So if you ever wanted to feel more comfortable in your own skin, or change the world for future generations here is your little chance to contribute. I have. Go for it!

 

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It’s Terminology Tuesday today, a good day for a little bit of mouth bling,

“Grills, golds and fronts”

“Metal removable jewellery worn over the front teeth, a style that originated with those participating in Hip Hop culture in the 1980’s and has continued.”

definition from:

The Fairchilds Books Dictionairy of Fashion by Phyllis G Tortora and Sandra J Keiser

 Ditto for gold teeth and diamond crusted teeth.

Who’d have thought this would ever take off????

I’d love to know how it all came about?

Was it a savvy dentist? Hey dude, why don’t we drill holes in your teeth and insert a few diamonds, leaving your teeth open to decay should you neglect their regular maintenance. Kaching!

Or an orthodondist… hmm we need to make braces somehow more hip and fashionable…. I know! Kaching!

Ah, what funny crazy people we are. Does any one know how this came about?

Grill

Grill photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/mistmax/3686712003/

Lil' Wayne

Lil’ Wayne photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegall/6190178656/

Amber's grill is blinged-out at Rock the Bells 2008

Amber’s grill is blinged-out at Rock the Bells 2008 photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/fissionmailed/2699343911/

Grill$

Grill$ photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/toksik1/5080426838/

And here is the kind of establishment you need to visit to acquire such mouth art…
uptown grillz

uptown grillz photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/caylan/412106211/

mr bling bling gold tooth

mr bling bling gold tooth photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/whizchickenonabun/267266410/

Gold Teeth Master, Oakland, CA

Gold Teeth Master, Oakland, CA photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/25229906@N00/8031719566/

Canine golds? Please let there be a good reason for this. Poor darlin’.
Mouth Bling

Canine Mouth Bling photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/faunatic_bob/3082872661/

No way!!!!! Really? Who makes this &%$@! Oh right, they do. Sigh.

2010-07-23 (048)

Bling Teeth photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/anksmcskanks/4972599384/

Ohhhh Nohohoho!!!!!!!

grille

Run, people run! photo source:https://www.flickr.com/photos/denaldo/2407694028/

 Baha ha!

duck grill

duck grill. photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cool_colonia4711/754554859/

Ok, it’s lame I know but you laughed didn’t you?.

Happy Tuesday

Bella

To read more Terminology Tuesday posts click on the Culture tag in the “Let’s Talk” cloud top right of the home page.

OR click here to read my previous post.

* Bibliography: The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Fashion 4th Edition by Phyllis G. and Sandra J. Keiser