I always remember America’s sweethearts Annette Funicello and Franky Avalon on the beach in the movies. This reminds me of summertime; being young and carefree and hanging out with friends. They would do that little twisty dance on a towel, catch Frisbees mid air and eat ice-cream cones. All the bathing beauties looked fabulous in their swimwear. Those crazy kids of summer…
My youth at the beach was not so fun. Why? I was always conscious of my body. I would wear a big shirt or mou-mou over my bathing suit and sit on a towel while watching the lively banter from the sidelines. How do you say wallflower? Friends would urge me to join in and be more like Annette, but I felt sad and isolated. I felt that all “thighs” would be on me. I did not have lean legs and a cute little derrière like the other girls. I had cellulite and curves. I have always hated bathing suit season with a passion. Then I moved to Cancun, Mexico in my twenties on an adventure with my best friend Susan from high school. I wouldn’t say that I suddenly became comfortable in my skin and bared my body in a bikini, but I did lose the mou-mou. A simple streamline Adidas bathing suit made me appear slim and athletic…I hoped. Susan was very slim and willowy, so I always felt like a right cow beside her. She always told me I looked great, and who cares, we’re in Mexico baby! I embraced the fact that I lived steps away from the Caribbean sea and a stretch of white sandy beaches. One afternoon Susan and I went strolling on Playa Delfines. (translation, Dolphin Beach). There were these guys ogling us and needless to say, I felt very uncomfortable. My defense mechanism? Cover thighs with my hands. Where oh where was my mou-mou when I needed it? I felt so naked, so very vulnerable. Susan suggested we turn the other way instead of passing these guys. I agreed and we did a 360. Just then one guy hollered, “Hey, thick in the thighs!” It was clearly obvious they were not addressing Susan. They started laughing and cat-calling. Susan said ignore it, they’re a#$^@%holes. (don’t curse on my blog. My family reads this.) The next day, the mou-mou came out again. At least I could wrap it around my waist if I was caught in a dubious beach situation again. It is a darn sight better than using my hands, although ghastly to look at.
Fast forward to three years ago. My girlfriend Roxanne organized a girl’s day at the spa. I was excited. I hadn’t had a good deep pressure massage in a while. Then my face dropped as I read the last line of Roxanne’s email. It read, bring your bathing suits/bikini’s ladies. We are doing water therapy treatments. Oh boy, here we go again. Can I bring my safety net, (my mou-mou) to the spa? So here was my clever plan. I would conveniently “forget” my bathing suit and skip the water therapy and just jump into the massage and perhaps a nice facial. That was not to be as my friend Nadine had an extra suit. That darn organized, over thinker, Nadine! So I wore her Roots bathing suit, again using my hands to shield my thigh region.
In one month I am setting off to Cancun. Guess what? I am wearing a bikini for the first time ever. I did not squat till my legs felt like jelly, sprint until I was sweating buckets and plank until I dropped in exhaustion to wear a mou-mou. I am not wearing one of those swimsuits with a skirt covering my lower half. In that case, throw me a swimming cap and a ducky floating device for my waist to go along with it. Oh no, not this time. Annette, I may be twenty years older than you in those movies, but I will be twisty dancing on a towel and loving it. This lady is no longer watching from the sidelines. Those days are over.
(Beach Blanket Bingo photo courtesy of Google.)