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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us