Cellulite, scars, tattoos, hair, bingo wings and bellies: It's summer - so feel free to get it all out

We're British, and so when we do see some of that yellow thing in the sky, we want to make the most of it. If you're offended by flesh - perhaps it's your problem

Share
Related Topics

It’s that time of year, again.

Summer has well and truly been thrust upon the people of Britain in uncharacteristically vicious style. As a consequence, there isn’t much happening in the news because no one can be arsed to do anything. The headlines can be summarised in a series of increasingly panicked ‘wouldn’t it be awful if…..’ Daily Express-style stories with every newspaper, television and radio station declaring “it’s too hot to function! We’re all pulling sickies and laying around complaining about the heat. In the meantime our unprepared infrastructure has broken. The roads are melting and WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”.

Reporters are too caught up in a haze of lethargy to do anything more strenuous than to point a video camera lazily at a brown door all day, hoping that at some stage the Duchess of Cambridge will emerge with a Royal sproglet. In the meantime, we’re in the grips of a news climate that allows for a lot of body-image related headlines. Seen (wrongly in my opinion) by many as the sort of fluffy fodder that can fill a few minutes of airtime whilst because not much is happening in life.

As a body image pundit, summer is my busiest time of year. It’s also the season in which I always think “if I hear ONE more so called style expert getting all vitriolic on the subject of British high summer fashion I will eat my own head”.

It happens every year. Someone who claims to be an authority in the fields of style and etiquette (read: the sort of person who baulks at the thought of anything containing lycra, tights as opposed to stockings and is likely to be opposed to women wearing trousers) takes to the public spectrum, banging on endlessly about how the sight of so much un-toned naked British flesh makes them want to pass-out with indignation. They will also usually cite French and Italian people who, they will claim in a magnificent feat of generalisation “know how to dress for the weather” and ask why oh WHY we cannot be more like them?

I’ll tell you why. It’s because we aren’t French and we aren’t Italian. We are British and we have a couple of weeks of sunshine per annum if we are extremely lucky. Gripped by a fear that tomorrow we’ll wake up to discover the sky is typically overcast and our omnipresent rain will have returned to haunt us, we immediately shed our clothes and head to a public place to bask in the light of that rarely seen yellow thing in the sky. It’s the only time we allow the façade of our usually fairly austere national attitude to slip, where we don’t really care about much at all other than where the nearest barbeque or pub garden might be situated and say a collective ‘woo hoo!”.

An array of human flesh is on show at this time of year – one of the few times we get to see how diverse the human body really is. Usually, the only people we see naked are at least partially made of plastic. In a world where a lot of teenage boys are blithely unaware of what a real human un-tampered-with breast looks like I can only perceive this as an excellent thing.

To suggest that one’s belly, body hair or tattoo is ‘distasteful’ and should therefore be covered in the name of etiquette is the very worst sort of body fascism. If your children are traumatised by the sight of a fat person in a bikini, a bit of cellulite or a caesarean scar, then may I tentatively suggest that you aren’t raising them correctly. If seeing someone hairy wearing something skimpy renders you ‘unable to eat your lunch’ then I’m afraid my diagnosis is the problem is with your brain, not their body. We are all naked underneath our clothes. We all have a body and few of them are anatomically ‘perfect’. Grow up.

We’re already being bullied into apologising for ourselves on a daily basis by corporations with multi million pound budgets at their disposal specifically allocated to the task of convincing us there’s something wrong with us and we therefore need to buy their shit. Do we really need to additionally bully each other by drawing attention to socially constructed notions of body ‘flaws’ at one of the few times of the year we feel confident enough to say ‘sod it’ and shed our clothes? 

In the words of a woman I overheard looking magnificent in a strapless dress and sunhat having a cup of tea outside a café this week:

I’m fifty years old, I’ve had three children, I will NOT be made to cover up my bingo wings. I deserve more respect than that”.

If you happen to be reading this - you go, lady.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to adapt and survive

Nigel Edwards
 

Letter from the Sub-Editor: Canada is seen as a peaceful nation, but violent crime isn’t as rare as you might think

Jeffrey Simpson
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?