Jayne Dawson: Beach body ready? Never have been, never will be

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Well, there’s been a right old barney over that advert, hasn’t there? A proper up-and-downer.

You know, the one that says: “Are you body beach ready?” alongside a picture of the usual - a woman so tanned, toned, fit, sleek and slender as to not look human at all.

In fact she looks plastic. Not sexy, not lovely. Just unreal.

But that’s not the point. The point is this picture is supposed to feed into our female insecurities, make us all faint with fear that we don’t look like her, and rush out to buy whatever product she’s having.

The fact that I still don’t know what product she is supposed to be having means this advert hasn’t been entirely successful but no matter.

Instead of having a fit of the vapours, instead of looking down at their own fatter, paler, wobblier bodies and bursting into sobs of despair, women have been reacting strangely.

They have come over all defiant, saying things that make it plain they have no need or desire for pre-beach improvement strategies.

Things like: “If I am on the beach then my body is ready.” You can’t argue with the logic.

And this is good. Telling someone who is trying to make us feel bad about ourselves where to stick their “improving” product is always good.

But, in all conscience, I have to tell you that my answer to the question “Are you body beach ready” would always be, has always been, a big fat No.

That’s because I hate beaches. Always have. Always will.

Whether it’s Blackpool or Barbados they all look the same to me. Uncomfortable.

My memories of beaches are all bad ones, from losing my parents as a three year old, to trying to calm my yelping child after a a jelly fish sting, to feeling inferior next to the Germans.

I have never had an enjoyable sand-based experience.

That’s because, in truth, beaches are harsh and exhausting environments.

And sometimes humiliating. On our first family beach holiday abroad we walked to our spot fully clothed and proceeded to get into our bathers under a towel - until the amused looks from the tanned, tall, northern European sunbathers next to us alerted us to the fact that, outside of Bridlington in the 1960s, that wasn’t really beach etiquette.

The next day we arrived already undressed, pale but suitably near-naked, to lay on towels for the day like the other holidaymakers were doing.

Only while they lay still and calm, we did not. We fought with sand that seemed to cover us but no one else; we constantly applied factor 50 suncream to our poor, pale child; we bickered over whose turn it was to guard him, we squinted at books it was impossible to read because of the glare; we worried about how much we would be ripped off if we hired one of those umbrella things.

At midday, we gave in, abandoning our grey English towels and sitting in a cafe for three hours, until the very worst was over.

When we resumed our spot, everyone else was still where we had left them. No-one had moved, especially not the topless girls with identical blonde plaits sitting cross-legged at the water’s edge. They had deepened in shade quite considerably in those three hours though.

I sometimes wonder what their skin looks like now.

So that is beaches and me. On a beach there is nowhere to hide: the wind, the sea, the sun, the sand, the boredom.

Above all the terrible boredom.

But now I have a dilemma. The last place I ever want to be is on the beach, with the breeze stripping my skin and flattening my hair, with the sand sticking between my toes and the sea washing up bits of sewage.

But now, because of this advert, I might have to make the ultimate sacrifice. I might have to go sit on a beach, with all the horror that implies just to make the point that, hell yeah, my body is beach ready. It must be because I am sitting on a beach.

Boris Becker.

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