8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence

8 Women define a Bikini Body and Body Confidence

If you have a bikini and have a body, you have a bikini body

 

The term bikini body has a lot of negative connotations and has in many ways been marketed as the ultimate body goal to work towards. It conjures up images of magazine covers screaming “How to get a Bikini Body in 7 days”, as if your current body isn’t fit to adorn two piece swimwear.

 

To kick off women’s day and as part of this month’s theme, we asked 8 women to redefine a bikini body, share their body confidence tips and how age changes the way we view our bodies.

 

The common thread between all of their answers is that a bikini body isn’t a look, it isn’t a size, and it’s certainly not perfection. It’s a feeling and gets stronger and more positive the more we embrace what our bodies can do and what they allow us to do.

 

Lucinda Viljoen, 29

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Lucinda ViljoenTo me it means getting into your swimming costume,  regardless of your shape, skin tone or fitness level, and loving the sun on your skin (remember the sunscreen though!), enjoying the feel of the sand between your toes and the wind in your hair, and if you dare here in Cape Town, having a dip in the ocean. I know this is a very literal point of view but I am at that stage of my life where a bikini body is simply a body wearing a two-piece swimming costume.

 

 What is your best body confidence tip?

Stop breaking yourself down and stop comparing your journey and body to everyone else’s. The more you feed the low self-esteem monster, the stronger it gets. The opposite is also true. The more you embrace who you are, warts/scars/imperfections and all, the more confident you will feel.

 

Add a daily reminder on your calendar which automatically pops up with your affirmations at a certain time, and practice self-love, acceptance and gratitude towards your body every single day.

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Lucinda Viljoen

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

Exercising! Whether it’s lifting weights at Huba’s functional training classes, running with my dogs, or finding my calm in a yoga class. Moving my body and appreciating the very fact that I am able to do these things makes me feel so good about myself. Even now after injuring my leg on a box jump, exercise is my safe place where I feel happy in my own skin.

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

As you get older, you realise people are all different, they are on different journeys and have different lifestyles. Comparison is truly the thief of joy and if I had one message to my younger self it would be this “Stop comparing yourself to all those Victoria Secret Models”. I will never forget absolutely hating my body shape (small waist, big hips and love handles with spaghetti arms).

 

The turning point came just before I got married. I was bitching about my hips again and my husband snapped at me and said: “well let’s just book you surgery to have them removed”. That’s when I realised how ridiculous these perfect body ideals are that is constantly shoved down our throats by the media and that it’s up to me to work on my confidence. I got into exercise right after that and as I got older, stronger, and fitter; my attitude towards my body changed from hate to appreciation.

 

Find Lucinda on instagram @fit_metalhead

 

Claire McFarlane, 38

 

 What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Claire McFarlaneI actually struggle with this phrase and think it contributes to the perpetual body shaming and pressure women face every day. I’d like to see this phrase transformed [to] feeling good about yourself no matter what!

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

Stop comparing yourself to models in magazines, celebrities or advertising. Real life is different and so much better. Many years ago, I completed my internship as a graphic designer with a prestigious women’s fashion magazine. We retouched every photo of the model – even her beauty wasn’t enough for the magazine, we had to smooth every bump and even erase freckles.

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Claire McFarlane

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

Exercise and clean eating. When I feel strong and healthy, my body loves me and I believe it radiates through so that others see the same.

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in my life and surviving rape at 21 years old destroyed my self-respect. I have spent many years gaining this back and learning to love myself. My body is a temple – I want to treat it with love and kindness.

 

Find Claire on instagram @footstepstoinspire

 

Shirley Hamlyn, 27

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Shirley HamlynThere is no such thing as a bikini body, the body you are in is your Bikini Body, whether you are a size 8 or a size 14, you are beautiful in your own right! I do believe we should all strive to lead healthy lives but that doesn’t mean that just because you are not a toned, tanned, slim lady that you can’t wear a Bikini. Wear that Bikini and rock it.

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

Don’t let your appearance define you, whether you have long blonde hair or are battling acne, you are not your appearance, love your body, love yourself and treat yourself with love, always.

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Shirley Hamlyn

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

Breath! Yoga has taught me that no matter what the situation, if I just remember to breathe and come back to the present, come back to myself, I can get through anything, no matter how I am really feeling.

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

Growing up I was always the ‘skinny’ girl, when I hit adulthood I put on weight and judged myself, as I now approach 30, I’ve learnt to forgive myself and let go, I’ve learnt that being a size 8 doesn’t matter, being happy does. I acknowledge that I need to make changes to my lifestyle and improve my health but I don’t let my body image define me or control my life anymore. Eat that cake, in moderation and balance it out with a walk. Life is all about balance and acceptance.

 

Find Shirley on instagram @skwirlybird

Itumeleng Nqoko, 20

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Itumeleng NqokoGrowing up, bikini bodies for me were always associated with achievement, worth, confidence, beauty and desirability and so I think a bikini body isn’t so much a physical appearance, but a feeling.  This is why I personally don’t subscribe to the notion that if you have a bikini and a body, you have a bikini body. If you don’t feel beautiful and worthy and confident in your bikini, no matter how “ideal’ your physical appearance, you won’t think you have a bikini body.  Thus to me, a bikini body is the body in which you feel beautiful and worthy in while wearing a bikini.

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

This is your body, be thankful for it. Be proud of it. It is yours, it is beautiful. Some days you’ll believe it, other days you don’t, and on those days honey, just fake it till you make it.

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Itumeleng Nqoko

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

Pulling out my lamest, cringe-worthy dance moves.  I’m guaranteed a good laugh, and a reminder not to take myself too seriously.

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

My views toward my body are definitely a lot less negative, and I think through educating myself on proper health and how my body works, I am a lot more appreciative of all it does for me. I’ve stopped seeing my body as a project for fixing, and more as a gift worthy of being accepted, loved and taken proper care of.

 

Find Itumeleng on instagram @tumis_wellness

 

Cindi Benjamin, 31

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Cindi BenjaminAny female can wear a bikini, it’s the confidence and self-love that you have and not the “shape” of your body that counts.

Therefore, if you have a body – you can wear a bikini – that will be my definition of a “bikini body”. Not what social media portrays. Nobody walks around in a bikini all day, so why work towards that “goal”. That’s one season in the year – that most women strive for. Why not work towards a healthy body all year through?!

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

If you can be comfortable in your skin, having confidence comes naturally. I do not follow a scale number, I follow how my body feels – being healthy, fit and strong in my mind, body and soul, is what counts now.

God has giving you a body – it is naturally thin, heavier, round, curvy, whatever.

It’s not what your body looks like that matters- it is how you feel in your body.

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Cindi Benjamin

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

Being able to have a body that has the ability to train – which gets stronger with every workout, seeing improvement and development, is my way of gaining confidence.

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

As I got older, I realised that I am not alone in wanting the “ideal body”. I have built a “support” group of ladies that are like minded and have the same interests – in getting healthy, and not worried about “weight”.

I try to work out with all of them, and we assist each other in making those changes – and to get me through the workout. I find these ladies compliment me on body parts that I do not take note of, and this gives me confidence and love for that part of my body. Compliment women! Small or big kind words are always welcomed!

We as women should forget about the “competition”, we are all human and unique! We need to start loving ourselves first before you start “loving” someone else’s shape. Complements should come freely, instead of envious hatred/animosity due to someone looking or doing something better than you.

 

Find Cindi on instagram @cindi_i

 

Magan Hanekom, 21

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Magan Hanekom

A body that wants to see some summer sun 🙂

 

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

Take a look around you, look at all the girls/women in your immediate space and find something you like in all of them instead of something you dislike; once you make the conscious decision to look at other women in a positive light, you start spotting the things you love about yourself in other people, not the things you dislike about yourself or judge yourself on.

Also, you realise that there is no ‘perfect’ body type and regardless of what you deem as beautiful, the confidence and the way people present themselves is way more attractive than their supposed ‘societally correct/beautiful trails.’

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Magan Hanekom

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

Going for a run in the mountains. Feeling my heart race and feeling the muscles in my legs contract with each new step, that powers me forward. I love my body for its ability to take me places and for being healthy and for allowing me to experience places that I can share with other people, and in that moment, that realisation gives me confidence in anything/everything I do.

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

I definitely respect my body more; I listen to my body, I try to eat whole, healthy foods, to meditate and try to expose myself to a variety of activities varying from trail running, to horse riding, sailing, swimming, rock climbing, and attending my classes at university every now and again.

 

Find Magan on instagram @magan_and_the_mountains

 

Belinda Kitney, 37

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Belinda KitneyIt isn’t a fixed size or value on a scale; it’s when we as women feel comfortable or confident in our own skin. I think this quote sums it up:  Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you are better than everyone; it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone at all.

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

Every single person you meet has something about them they don’t like. Whether it’s a body part, feature or an insecurity. Nobody is perfect and nobody feels perfect all of the time. So don’t be so hard on yourself and smile.  Even when you don’t feel confident.

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Belinda Kitney

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

When I remind myself of the bigger picture, and of how short and precious life is.  Life is too short to let any fears or insecurities stand in my way. I remind myself of challenges I’ve conquered already when I thought I couldn’t.

 

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

We are our own limits! We all only have one body and we need to take care of it and give it the tools it needs to heal, perform and function well. We often limit ourselves though and think we can’t do x, y or z or give up because we are at a specific age. If we treat our bodies well it will reward us with better health.

 

Find Belinda on instagram @listeningtomygut

 

Fathima Shaikh, 41

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Fathima Shaikh

A fit body, a strong body, a healthy body – irrespective of your body type!

 

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

Love your body enough to take care of it and if you take care of it, you’ll love it!

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Fathima Shaikh

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

I run! Okay, seriously now. For me a lot of it comes from the mind. I talk myself confident! If I believe it, I achieve it!

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

Acceptance! I’ve learned to accept and love that which I cannot change about my body (flaws included!) and rather work on bettering and strengthening that which I can.  And the minute that I dropped this picture from my mind of what my body should look like, I allowed the best me to blossom! And now at 41 my body is stronger and more beautiful than it’s ever been!

 

Find Fathima on instagram @fathima_shaikh_motala

 

Tamrin Feldman, 28

 

What does a bikini body mean to you?

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Tamrin FeldmanI used to think that a ‘bikini body’ meant having the ‘perfect’ body but as I am getting older, I have come to realise that perfection and the idea of what the perfect body is, is something that no one can truly narrow down as we are all so different and so unique with bodies that look, move and feel differently. To me then, a Bikini Body is the body that you feel imperfectly perfect in and not because it is particularly toned or because you have flat abs (although it is great if you do have those physical attributes as well) but rather because you embrace the very-body you have and are proud of the twists and turns it takes when you confidently flaunt it in a bikini.

 

What is your best body confidence tip?

 

It all comes down to balance! Balance doesn’t always seem/feel like the ‘sexiest’ thing to get right but being balanced and aligned within my mind, body and soul always makes me feel uber confident! Do the things which make you AND your body feel great! Do your favourite workouts often, wear the clothes which make you feel confident and empowered, eat your favourite healthy foods, always show gratitude towards your body and know that it is OK to indulge in your favourite foods and/or activities now and again. Embrace being balanced! 🙂

 

8 Women on Bikini Bodies and Body Confidence - Tamrin Feldman

 

What makes you feel confident no matter what?

 

To choose one thing is rather difficult but there are a few things that leave me feeling confident and empowered – doing a stretchy, bendy, flexy and sweaty Yoga class ALWAYS gives me a mega glow of confidence and perhaps because I am involved in the fitness industry (which often requires that you rock a lot of fitness gear and barely-there makeup) there is nothing quite like rocking new make-up and knowing that my eye-brow game is on point (haha)! Seems silly but for me, I feel like I can conquer the world with my ‘war-paint’ on.

 

How have your views towards your body changed as you’ve gotten older?

 

My body and I have been on quite a journey together! I suffered from Anorexia and bulimia as a late teen and early adult, so I have wasted many years on worrying and obsessing over what I think my body should look like instead of embracing the way my body is – it’s gorgeous flaws and all! So, as I have gotten older (and as I start to near 30) I have learned to love and appreciate rather what my body can do for me and I no longer fixate on just the way my body ‘looks’. It has become more important for me to acknowledge how my body is feeling and to set goals for myself that are not aesthetic based but rather performance based. It is way cooler (in my opinion) that I can do pull-ups, push-ups and a kick-ass Yoga poses than having rock-hard abs or being ‘skinny’. I have learned to appreciate my ‘squishy’ bits and know that they tell a story of someone who enjoys a balanced and fulfilled life. Basically, I am done with just seeing my body as something nice to look. 🙂

 

Follow Tamrin on Instagram @tamrinfeldman

 

share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

 

Main image by Zissy Lewin, Graphics by Feige Lewin

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Zissy Lewin

Zissy Lewin

Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.
Zissy Lewin

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