Bikinis and the woman over 40

By Dosi Cotroneo

I can’t remember the last time I wore a bikini and to be quite honest, I don’t know if the day will ever come that I dare parade around the neighbourhood pool in basically a brassiere and underwear. At the risk of sounding old fashioned, somewhere over the past five years, my penchant for collecting bikinis in every colour and style imaginable has waned. Perhaps it’s because the once girlish silhouette with the tapered waist and enviable abdominal region has waned. Time can be a friend to wine but a foe to the core of women over 40, and although I
swore I would never become one of those women who blamed age on the changing physique, lately I hear myself doing just that.

Years of high-impact, low-impact, spandex-induced aerobic classes transformed my sluggish, never took phys-ed in high school body into a tight, toned physique. This level of firmness and fitness lasted well into the thirties, well past the births of three children, and then, it happened. The fourth decade arrived and with it, a barrage of excuses to stop attending the very classes that helped me achieve my fitness goals. It seemed as though napping, playing with the cats, reading, taking long walks, gardening, biking, baking, and just enjoying those precious moments of solitutude in-between driving around teenagers, took precedence over huffing, puffing, spandex and sweating.

Suddenly activities such as Yoga, Tai-chi, and Pilates became far more appealing, and much less strenuous on the old muscular-skeletal system. Concerns about arthritis, osteoporosis, and knee replacements began to dominate conversations with the girlfriends. Were these long-winded chats over decaf coffee or herbal tea factual, or were we merely looking to find a legitimate excuse to stop attending those challenging aerobics classes? Had we become fans of a more sedentary lifestyle, but were too afraid to admit it to one another?  Did the dreaded one-piece skirted bathing suit of yesteryear suddenly become appealing, practical, if not a safer option than the dreaded bra and underwear-inspired bikini?

Today, what is left of the bikini collection sits in a lonely bottom drawer in the walk-in closet, and although I recently joined a local gym in the hopes of tightening and toning the body parts that have started to geographically head south, I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I will ever venture out of the closet wearing a bikini.

Perhaps it is high time I arrived at this mature decision. Perhaps a woman in her fourth decade has no business wearing a bikini, unless on a secluded far off beach with her mate. That being said, is a bikini not really and truly is a brassiere and underwear only in different fabrics and patterns? Then what is all the fuss about wearing a bikini anyway? Perhaps I don’t want to talk to my neighbours, co-workers, or townsfolk in my brassiere and underwear. Perhaps with age comes wisdom. Perhaps a woman in her fourth decade finally accepts her body as it is - be it bikini-ready or not. Afterall, aren’t the forties the new twenties only with wisdom, experience, self-confidence, and the freedom from bikinis. How liberating!