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Can a bikini liberate? My middle-class Indian values have always found the idea confusing. But when I wore it for the 1st time at the age of 36, it made me feel empowered and liberated!
The idea of wearing a bikini was something to be ignored as it did not hold any value inside my “feminist” mind. All through my 20s, I found the bikini an overrated clothing item.
As a middle-class Indian woman, I always thought, why do I have to wear one. Just to prove that I have the bikini body to wear it? Interestingly, I have always had a petite frame until now when I weigh the heaviest I have ever been.
WOW, I was blown! So recently, I bought my first bikini at age 36, and I can not explain the joy on my child’s face when she saw me ready to dive into the water of the Pacific Ocean with her.
I smile when I think of the time at the beach with my daughter. I could not believe the bikini would make me fall in love with water a little more. I had the best beach vacation ever! Not because I wore some sexy bikini but because I finally felt comfortable in my skin.
For the first time in my life, I did not care about what others thought about my body. I did not care whether I had a bikini body or not. It was empowering, liberating and beautiful.
Two reasons come to my mind when I think about why I never gave it much thought in my 20s while some of my toned friends were posing at the beach and putting up their best photos on Facebook.
The first reason was that by giving it value, I adhered to the idea of what a bikini means in a patriarchal world. Our society attaches certain notions and ideas to swimwear, and it becomes almost impossible for a woman to not make a statement when she wears a bikini or even a one-piece.
Second, coming from a country like India, the idea of wearing a bikini or any swimwear exists mostly in the upper-middle and richer sections of the society who can afford to wear one at their regular pool parties or private beach visits across the country.
You see, for a middle-class girl brought up in the 90s, just the thought of the stares you will get at a public beach in India by wearing a bikini might be enough for you to drop the idea altogether for the rest of your life.
So I never really gave it a thought. In India, whenever near water, I would wear “shorts” (the black ones? Thigh-hugging? We called them tights?) and a t-shirt. And anyway, I do not know how to swim, so what is the point, right?
Even after going to the US, it didn’t occur to me that I could now wear comfortable clothes to get into the water. The social conditioning was pretty strong I must admit. The thought of “log kya kahenge” doesn’t leave us Indians until we consciously work on it.
Well, all of this was before I read a post by a famous Canadian mom duo on social media who have been inspiring moms all over the world to go all out in their swimwear with their kids!
As I scrolled through the comments thread, I saw how much fun all the mommies were having at the beach in clothes that are meant for swimming. They were most comfortable with the children in the water, and that is what matters at the end of the day, isn’t it?
I finally realized how faulty my thought process had been all along about bikini/swimwear. The patriarchal world manipulates me into thinking that I need to have a certain kind of bikini body to wear a swimsuit. And that I have to make a point every time I step into my swimwear. It keeps women away from thinking that it is the most logical outfit to wear for any person at a beach.
No wonder you find most men with paunches (or not!) not caring the least in the world and roaming around freely at most beaches in the world. Because they know it is the logical thing to do when in water. Wear minimum clothes, right?
Wearing a bikini allows me to enjoy the water freely. No dripping t-shirt, no weird “tip-tip barsa pani” moments, and just pure freedom!
I have to mention that not a single person stared at me while I spent 4-5 hours at the beach in a bikini. I did not experience any fear or embarrassment for even a second.
I can not end without appreciating the husband who acted like a young lover and took pictures of me in all poses possible at a beach.
We all deserve a partner whose concern is not our waist size but the size of our heart and mind!
Image source: Still from the movie Bobby
A former journalist, a freelance content creator and a mom blogger who can be found scribbling away in her many diaries, when she’s not entertaining or learning from her young daughter. A spiritually-inclined read more...
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