There’s one thing I really admire about people who are not brown. (ie. white people. ie. People who didnt grow up in the same country I did.) Their ability to wear swimsuits. Regardless of their age, size, shape or bountifulness.
MOST people who grew up in the same country I did, wouldnt be caught dead in a swimsuit. When they go to the beach or the pool, they will wear any combination of any (or all) of the following:knee length shorts, a voluminous t-shirt, a tanktop, a lavalava, a mu’umu’u floorlength dress, and sometimes underneath all of it they will ALSO be wearing..( wait for it) …a swimsuit. Now of course there are those brown people – usually in the younger generation, who will wear skimpy swimming outfits. But NEVER when their elders are about. And only if they are skinny and fabuloso. And when they do, the rest of those on the beach ( who are all struggling to stay afloat as their denim shorts and big t-shirts drag them down into the ocean depths) – will then sit there and loudly talk about what skanky ho’s those skinny swimsuit girls are. Because, its just not ‘Samoan’ to display one’s body for all and sundry to gape at. ( Never mind that we ran around topless before the missionaries came along and ruined it for us.) Needless to say, I have never gone swimming wearing ONLY a swimsuit. Even before the fabulous Five came along and destroyed my Sports Illustrated shape. ( everybody laugh together and say, yeah right!)
But now I live in NZ. And I go to the swimming pool to do my water jogging ( a fantastic way to exercise I must add – no sweating, no dogs trying to bite you, no killers hiding in the bushes waiting to kill you, and complete weightlessness!) And at the pools I am surrounded by…really old women, really young women, really large women, really skinny women, really bountiful women and really bountiless women. And all of them are quite happily wearing nothing but swimsuits! Bikinis! Thongs! Maillots! And quite uncaring of all the fludgy bits that blob out where bits shouldnt. Its wonderful. And I am awed by their fiery confidence and complete disregard for whatever anyone else may be thinking
.Nobody sits in a cluster and calls out, ‘Eh suga! makua lapoa kele lou vae!…Eh vaai le la loomakua ma ana ofu valea!…Auoi! kai makaga le la fafine!’ Nope. Nobody tells you you’re too fat, too old, too ugly, too wrinkly, too flat chested to wear anything but a sack. Nope. Nobody cares. Everybody just wears their thing and gets on with doing their thing. Swimming. Diving. Walking. Jogging. Wow. I take my knee length shorts and voluminous shirt off and salute you all! (theoretically and figuratively speaking of course…) All of us brown people who still believe in wearing double layers in the pool or at the beach – could sure learn a few things from these women.
However. In my humble opinion…there is such a thing as taking a good thing…waaaay too far. In the changing rooms, it is rather horrifying. Because lots of these same women, are so cool about their bodies…that they take all their clothes off and shower/dry off/get changed and dont give a hoot who’s around. And for a girl who grew up in the country where you still need to put a lavalava on OVER pants during ceremonial ocasions…it is truly disturbing to walk into the changing room and be confronted by all these naked people. Ugh. And not only that, they are having chats and casual conversations with each other. And not even making any effort to cover up. Or hide behind a flowery lavalava. Or a curtain. And I cringe and shudder and make a hasty dash for it. And scream silently – for goodness sake, put some clothes on! Yes you can say Im riddled with ‘hangups’ and accuse me of being ‘prudish’ or crippled by weak body image issues or whatever. But its probably more of a cultural thing because honestly, I have yet to see a brown woman get butt naked in the ladies public changing room.
But I could be wrong. Because after all, Im running so fast to get the heck outta there and trying frantically to get my eyes to look everywhere EXCEPT at all the naked people. So its totally possible that I could have missed the brown woman strutting her stuff at the opposite end of the room. (thank goodness) Now I have no problems with people wearing revealing clothing. Heck, the days when I would wriggle into a tiny mini-skirt and dance on tables are not THAT long ago. (cue another group, ‘Yeah right!’) If people wanna go skimpy, then hey, go for it! But in my perfect world, the swimming pool changing rooms would have a sign on the door. In neon lights. Pleeeease dont get naked unless everybody in the room wants you to!
So yes I am very admiring of women who love their bodies enough to wear swimsuits. And I might even take my big t-shirt off next time I go to the pool. Ta-Da!
But until Im living in my ‘perfect world’ – I’ll keep doing my mad dash through the change rooms, averting my eyes and pretending that everyone has their clothes on.
P.S – And impt end note. Speedos. Tiny little swim underwear on men? Disgusting. Please dont EVER make the mistake of thinking they’re a good idea. Even if you’re built like Sonny Bill Williams? Still, DONT DO IT. Speedos are bad on any man. Every man. Are a crime against humanity and should be feared as such.