Summer, the month of August in particular, is religiously observed in Italy. Summer beach plans have been discussed and planned for months. Well, I say planned, knowing quite a few Calabrians living in Rome the summer beach plan rarely changes. Same time, same beach, same friends, year in and year out. I suppose if your regular beach looks like this you might think going anywhere else is a little bit pointless.
I admit it. I’m not really a beach person. Whilst it might not be an issue living in Bradford, here in Rome it is pretty much guaranteed you will receive an invite to the beach fairly regularly. Every year I promise myself that I will get fit, or more honestly get in shape in order to expose my flesh more confidently on the beach. Every year I lazily fail. But should it be something that bothers me? I loved this no-one cares article recommending that we should just let it all hang out. But does that apply in Italy?
My very slim Italian girlfriends go the gym religiously in the spring so they can confidently bare all. And confidence in the word. Italians can spend a couple of days in the sun and receive the sort of tan that I would still only be able to dream of after months of dedicated sunbathing. My inability to tan, or to tan evenly is a source of continuous amusement to my other half. Why is this bit red and that bit sort of freckly and that bit still white? My friend Robert once described my legs as so white that they reflect the sun.
And whilst maybe in England there might be a fairly good mixture of shapes and sizes, my first experience of beach life here in Italy was in Sardinia where everyone seemed to have a perfect model figure. All perfect hair, latest bikini, the right accessories, no-one looking sweaty and dredged in sun-cream. Years of beach experience laid out for all to see. Not exactly designed to boost body-confidence.
A friend who is a worse beach avoider than I am was recently accused of being vain – who would be looking at you? But then I’m looking at everyone else, jealously eyeing the perfect figures with the sort of bottom that I haven’t possessed since my 10th birthday. And just what is it with the size of bikini bottoms in Italy? Anglo-Saxon bottoms are just not made for unforgiving expose-all thongs. We appreciate a bit of coverage thank you very much.
However, with the writers advice in mind, I decided to try to lose my hang-ups and be more beach confident. At a recent beach visit, I caught sight of myself in a mirror in the bathrooms and I was pleasantly surprised. Alright it was semi-dark, but nevertheless I was pleased. It’s a start. Now for beach confidence in the harsh (sun)light of day …