There’s no denying that our bodies begin to change once we reach mid-life – but it doesn’t mean that we should cover it up.
For three women in their fifties, their confidence has sky-rocketed. They have no fear about wearing a bikini in their mid-life, proving that you don’t need a Love Island-style body, be a certain age or dress size to embrace a two-piece.
Here, they explain their refusal to let their age control what they can and can’t wear – and why they are feeling (and looking!) more fabulous than ever…
Two years from the big 6-0, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon
Honor Marks, 58, from Broadstairs
‘I’ve bought a bikini for the first time in 17 years because of you! Thank you for giving me that confidence!’
I beamed as I read the Instagram message – this lady wasn’t the first to get in touch, and I really hoped she wouldn’t be the last.
I’ve worn a bikini all of my life, ever since I was a teenager. Now, even two years from the big 6-0, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Over the years, I fluctuated from a UK size 6 to a size 14, but it genuinely didn’t matter to me how big or small I was. I loved bikinis and I was going to wear them – no matter what. I’ve always liked to get a tan and they are the best way to do that.
And while I noticed other women, presumably starting to get self-conscious, began to cover up their tummies in their forties, it never occurred to me to do the same.
In fact, I ended up wearing my bikini more than ever when I moved to the South of France in 2006, where I bought three gites, or holiday homes, to rent out.
There, I had a swimming pool, so I started wearing one under my clothes. It meant whenever I had a spare minute, I could relax on a sun lounger or take a quick dip.
The thing is, if I feel confident and comfortable in a bikini, why shouldn’t I wear one? I can’t stand the drilled-in narrative that our age should dictate how we behave or what we wear.
I’m pro-ageing! Ageing is something that we should do, not so much gracefully – but gratefully.
It’s something we all do, every single day, so why should we fight that? Yes, I might have slightly wobbly knees and certainly don’t have a six-pack, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still look good! We only live once, so we should strive to get the most out of every day.
And through Instagram, I’ve been passing on that message to other women all around the world.
It started during lockdown, almost inadvertently. Since no one could travel, I began to up my social media game – partly for something to do.
I started posting videos of me by the pool and around the gites, naturally wearing my favourite monochrome bikini. That was when women of all ages started to get in touch, telling me how I’d inspired them to slip into a two-piece for the first time in years.
I was delighted that my confidence was being seen, because I wanted all women to feel the happiness and self-love that I did.
What other people think of me is none of my business. The only thing that is my business is how I feel about my body – and I feel pretty damn good about it.
I want to pass on my message to every woman out there that, if they want, they should absolutely buy, wear and look amazing in a bikini. No matter their age!
Follow Honor on Instagram here.
I’m practising what I preach!
Vie Portland, 52, from Winchester
Strutting down the catwalk wearing nothing but a floral bikini, I grinned broadly at the rows of people looking up at me. As I reached the end, the applause was deafening.
I was at the Real Catwalk Show in September 2021, walking with other women with disabilities, and I couldn’t have felt prouder to show my amazing body off in all of its glory.
As I slipped off backstage, I marvelled at what I’d just done. For the first 40 years of my life, I’d never dreamed I’d be able to do this.
I never had any confidence growing up. I didn’t come from a happy home, and I had an undiagnosed skin condition, epidermolysis bullosa, which made my feet blister and gave me a limp. It caused various other health ailments – and came with a lot of playground bullying.
So when my boobs started to grow in my teens and I developed a classic UK size 12 hourglass frame, I was horribly self-conscious. Yes, I’d wear a bikini on holiday, but I’d sit hunched over – trying to hide.
In my twenties, I put on weight and hated the way I looked. My self-confidence, and self-esteem, were rock bottom. I even went back to university to do a psychology degree and took counselling courses to try and find the answers to fix myself.
By my mid-thirties, I knew I couldn’t carry on as I was, so I decided to make a change. Challenge myself. Do things I wouldn’t normally do.
The first thing I did, back in 2009, was join a burlesque class. It was really good fun, learning to move seductively, even if it was just in gym wear to start with. So when the teacher asked me to help her put on a show, I agreed – but then she said I had to be in it.
I was terrified, but she eventually wore me down. And when I tentatively stepped on stage in a bikini, aged 39 and a size 18, to cheers, rather than boos – I was baffled.
I carried on doing more shows, my confidence growing inch by inch. By 2012, I was teaching burlesque – and helping other people grow in their confidence too. I even started teaching 1940s dancing, which I’d picked up along the way.
But then other people came up to me, asking: ‘I don’t want to learn to dance, and I definitely want to keep my clothes on, but could you teach me how to be more confident?’
That was when I started doing self-esteem and confidence workshops for anyone who needed support.
Because by then, I was proud of my body. Not particularly because of how it looked. But because of what it had overcome, and what it could do.
In January 2019, I set up my community interest company, VieNess: Discover You, Love You CIC, and went into schools, libraries, Brownies, Guides, and WI meetings giving self-esteem classes.
So when I saw Sylvia Mack – Mack runs Love Disfigure, a diverse talent agency – on television, I got in touch, and thanks to her, got into a bikini on Brighton beach later that year to take some photos. To show that I was was beach-body ready. That we all are.
Bodies are incredible. They enable us to move, to experience incredible things – and to live. But in another way, they’re really quite ordinary. We all have one, and they’re all different shapes and sizes.
We shouldn’t be ashamed of them, we should be proud of them – show them off, and inspire people with them! And I’m glad, after so long, that I finally know how to.
For more info, visit: vieness.co.uk
I hope I’ll still be wearing one at 75!
Amanda Frolich, 53, from West London
Slipping out of my sarong, I lay it over my sun lounger, then walked around the pool to the bar in my bikini.
I don’t care if I’m 53, I wouldn’t think twice about wearing one! I am happy and confident in my body, so I never worry about it showing off. A little thing like my age or my muscular thighs aren’t going to stop me.
I’ve always loved sports, ever since I was child. I’d always convince my cousins to play rounders or cricket, and I’d happily join in.
So when I left school, I got a job at my local leisure centre and became a personal trainer. I loved my body and what it could do – I wanted to pass that onto other people.
Of course, like everyone else, I was a little self-conscious. For many years, I thought my thighs looked far too muscly compared to my skinny ankles.
But by my thirties I just stopped caring. I’d realised that exercising and eating well made you feel good, and if you feel good, you’ll have the inner happiness and confidence to wear what you want – and look amazing in it.
I firmly believe that having a healthy body means having a healthy mind, something I’ve tried to pass onto my own daughter, Bibi, now 18. She is also more than happy to wear a bikini – and anything else she feels comfortable in.
Now, I have my own business, Amanda’s Action Club, where I’m passing that message onto as many young children as I can. I go into nurseries and schools, and run after-school groups to teach physical development in a fun way. Encouraging them to express themselves and have fun through activities.
There is no age-limit on what you wear or do, and I try to teach kids that their opinion of themselves is the most important.
So as long as I feel comfortable and confident, I’m going to be wearing my bikini for many years to come – and so should all women! Embrace your body, no matter how it looks. No-one is going to criticise you.
My friend’s mum still goes on holiday three times a year and wears a bikini all the time – and she’s 75. She looks amazing! I can only hope I’ll be like that at her age too.
For more info, visit: amandasactionclub.co.uk
Age is Just a Number
Welcome to Age is Just a Number, a Metro.co.uk series aiming to show that, when it comes to living your life, achieving your dreams, and being who you want to be, the date on your birth certificate means nothing.
Each week, prepare to meet amazing people doing stereotype-defying things, at all stages of life.
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