Leslie Morgan Steiner the author of four books, including “The Naked Truth,” which explores femininity, aging, cellulite, and sexuality after 50 writes:
“Summer is coming, friends. You know what this means. Bikinis. I’m 56. Like most American women, I’ve grappled with body positivity my whole life. My mother, a college athlete who never dieted, preached that natural thinness was a God-given A+ and muffin-tops a failing grade. My first published article was about surviving anorexia as a college freshman. Working in the New York fashion magazine industry, I got negative reinforcement about the size of my boobs and butt from every Vogue cover and Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
Our culture seems to insist that women abhor our own skin. Research shows that a whopping 45 percent of teens have pondered cosmetic surgery; 40 to 60 percent of elementary school girls worry they are becoming “too fat”; and more than 80 percent of women are “sometimes” or “very often” on a diet to skinny up.”
Jiggly Thighs A.K.A Cellulite
On that note, I remember a great article about women’s focus on jiggly thighs. It posited a marketing genius’s conclusion that if you wanted to be a financial wizard assured of rolling in the dough—find an ‘ailment’, a ’condition’ (such as cellulite) that after a certain age 100% of women have. Develop a “surefire” product that supposedly addresses that dreaded issue (but doesn’t), then sit back and roll in the dough.
Okay, point taken. I’m a reasonably intelligent woman and I do know better. I’ll be 78 years old next month, I work out, run six miles a day on the elliptical, weigh tops 110 lbs. But…last week, I ordered cellulite crème from Amazon. Sigh. What is it about jiggly thighs and a non-existent bootie (guess my exercise regime does something…) that has been drilled into our heads that our bodies no matter what shape we are in are unsightly and something to be ashamed of.
Note that cellulite crème isn’t marketed to men. Let’s go there for a moment. I’m surrounded by males of all ages. And while they are certainly conscious of their appearances–my grandsons are exercise fanatics, my 82 year old guy primps with the best of them. But at least as far as the beach goes, I don’t see them or a lot of guys in coverups.
A moment of truth…
I write sexy (make that very sexy) romantic suspense thrillers. I admit my leading women are gorgeous and I have never called attention to a quiver or a jiggle on any of them. However in defense of my author-me, all of my leading men are also Shemar Moore or Jake Gyllenhaal lookalikes. Ahh…fantasy.
Back to Leslie Morgan Steiner. She writes: When Deborah Copaken, a friend and author of the memoir “Ladyparts,” was in her 20s, she wore a bikini, albeit reluctantly. She always felt self-conscious running into the water, she told me, her thighs jiggling behind her, her butt cheeks exposed. Why couldn’t she dress for the beach like a man? They never worried about such things. Then she changed her mind. “I decided f— it,” Copaken says now. “If my soft arms, jiggly ass and stomach scars bother you, that’s your problem, not mine.” She switched back to bikinis. “I don’t want to spend a single minute of the life I have left worrying about my body.”
Regarding swimsuits and the like, after considering various ways we women can claim our gorgeous selves, Steiner writes: My most beautiful friend, a grandmother in her late 70s, hates bathing suits so passionately that she only swims naked. Mostly late at night in private pools. Occasionally in a deserted lake. She says she’s too old to endure the torture devices designed to deprive older women of the simple joys of swimming, frolicking and enjoying our birthrights — the bodies that nature gave us.
Now that’s a thought…and a practice I highly recommend. Having done a significant amount of skinny dipping over the years, with sisters, daughters, and yes lucky men–who insisted I was beautiful etc. etc. I definitely agree. Not only for my jiggle-free fictional gals, but for the rest of us gorgeous women, cellulite and all. Hooray!
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