“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian”- David Rocco

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Italy, Beaches and Bikinis, Oh My!!

The pool at our hotel in Ischia

I spent the summer of 2011 in Italy studying opera. Most of my time was spent on the beautiful island of Ischia, just off the coast of Naples. While I was packing for my trip, I of course packed a lot of bathing suits. All of them were bikinis, except for one. I packed a black one piece with a matching skirt, in case, as I told my mother, I had a fat day. I had heard that Italians were different when it came to swimwear, but I had no idea just how different they really were.

The first day out in a suit was after a few days of binging in Rome. I felt a little more bloated than usual from all the bread and pasta, but I put on my favorite bikini anyway. A turquoise string bikini with wooden beads.  I was just going to the hotels outdoor pool and was hoping most people would be napping. The pool was packed. And everyone, young, old, thin and heavy, was in a bikini.

You would think living in an environment where you’re always in a bathing suit would make you much more body conscious, but if anything, it seems to have the exact opposite effect. Here in America, going to the beach is such an event for most women; we usually spend two weeks planning. We revamp our diet entirely and work out extra hard, knowing that soon our bodies will be on display. Not in Italy.

Women walk around with their heads held high, it’s no big deal to them. You see much older women in bikinis, which in America would be considered taboo. Girls who are maybe a bit fuller walk around in two pieces. 

Enjoying a nighttime stroll on the beach, not worrying about all the extra gelato I had!!

I am a healthy size, I'm 5’0 and around 100 pounds, but it just hurts to know that so many women are ashamed of their bodies. As a young woman, I have of course had my “fat” moments, but I have never felt bad about my body, because I am so grateful for everything that it can do.

Our bodies are not something to be ashamed of; they are to be celebrated. In Italy, almost all women wear bikinis. They’re confident and comfortable, to them it’s not even a second thought, it’s just a way of life. They don’t hide under a cover-up. They are proud of their bodies and not afraid to show it.  It’s such a different mentality, one that I wish all women, young and old, in the United States would adapt. Going to a beach in America is much more difficult. I hate it when I see other woman looking at each other and sizing each other up. Once I saw the way it was in Italy, putting on a bikini everyday was no big deal. In the past, I would check my stomach just to see if it was a little puffy, but I never did that once in Italy.....because it didn’t matter.

No one was going to judge me and think I should do more crunches or look at the woman in her 70s in the bikini and think she looked stupid or tell the size 18 girl to cover up. We should all feel this proud. So ladies, this summer when you’re going to the beach with all of your friends, get excited for a day of fun and sunshine (wear SPF!!) and put on that bikini

And by the way? That one piece didn’t come out of the suitcase the whole trip.

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