Perish thought that women in Caribbean walk around scantily clad on their tropical island. There is a dress code for everything. Believe it or not we are quite conservative, unless, it’s Carnival or there’s a fete. As a pre-teen, I was bigger than my peers and looked more mature due to my height and serious disposition.  I was careful how I dressed, to avoid unsolicited looks and comments from the opposite sex. Men back home have no qualms about addressing a female on sexual terms as she went about her business. Their comments could vary from sweet like, ‘reds have ah nice day eh’ to ‘oh gosh if yuh was mine I’d …’ fill in with any inappropriate sexual comment that comes to mind. Experience as the aforementioned really makes one aware of their bodies and fear it almost. At the age of 44 I’m still working on my body confidence.

Being invisible isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve often said that I enjoy the invisibility that expat life gives me.  When I say invisible, I mean, no one knows me so I can go about my business. When I am seen it’s for a good reason.  I very rarely have to ‘wear ah beast face’ to ward off inappropriate unwanted verbal advances. From my observation in the England, men rarely say anything to women on the streets. Clubbing was a different affair, after some Dutch courage mans dem feel brave, but I don’t club anymore.

Taking it back a bit, when I arrived in England I was roughly 130 lbs and UK8 dress size. As I slowly began to relax and own the space I was in began to put on weight. I also began to experiment with my style and had a few misses along the way.

After, I became a mum, I gave up the bikinis and most fun clothing (and accessories) for practical reasons. Somewhere along the line,  I lost my personal style. This was not such a good time for me. I lacked confidence in all aspects of my life, natural my body confidence was affected too. Suddenly, a few month ago, something switched in my brain and I began feeling more like my ole self. All my ole jewellery and accessories came out and more colour was injected into my wardrobe.

Then attended a SOW-FULL networking event. There were many independent traders. I spotted an army green bikini by KD. Ocean. I was drawn to it and so I bought it. Then, I revamped my gym regime, even shared a personal trainer with my gym buddy for a few weeks. What a result. My mission was not to return to my stick figure frame but simply to shed a few extra pounds and reduce my waistline.

Finally, I donned my bikini and went to Tooting Lido last month. When I changed I felt so vulnerable, as if I was naked. True, I don’t have a model figure but my body gave me two happy healthy children. The moment I hit the water that was it. If anyone was looking at me it was most likely because of my joy at being in the water, carefree as a three year old.

Would I have had the courage be so carefree back home, I’m not sure. Would it be the done thing for a 40 plus perimenopausal women, to wear a bikini? I don’t know. Old habits die hard which is why my body confidence is a work-in-progress but I’m enjoying the now.

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