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That Bikini


4 Minute Read

It was no surprise to me to see a picture of Alexandra Shulman wearing a bikini. I’ve been on holiday with her, (we’re friends, neighbours and I worked for her at Vogue magazine for four years) so I know she’s a two-piecer on the beach. Her philosophy is that bikinis look fabulous on a tiny fraction of the female populace – namely teens and models — but that shouldn’t stop anyone else from wearing one if they want to. Alex thinks they feel lovely, the very essence of summer, and as she told the Sunday Times, she planned to wear them until she died.

Why did that make page 3 of a huge-selling newspaper and the opinion columns of all the rest? Alex had Instagram-ed a selfie of her bikini clad body, in advance of a boat trip on her Greek island holiday. The world of social media, then the more traditional type, went crazy. It wasn’t just that she was the former editor of Vogue, letting her hair down in public —- but she was 59 and as “imperfect” as any woman is by that stage.

As it happened, while all this was going on, I was on holiday with my husband in Croatia. For the first time in 20 years we were vacationing together, no children, no friends, just us. It was great! Island hopping down the Dalmatian coast took us to a variety of beaches, short and rocky, long and sandy, all fringed with crystal clear blue water.

But this is not a travel post. What was I wearing? Mostly my cerulean blue Heidi Klein one-piece, an expensive, elegant piece of swimwear engineering I invested in a couple of years ago and that I still believe is a great swimsuit. It holds my belly in (a bit), pushes my boobs up (a lot) and makes me feel beach-ready or whatever that pernicious advertising campaign promised.

I had also packed a rather ancient bikini – or rather a top of one and bottom of another – in a what the hell sort of way. I wore that too, but mostly on the more remote stretches, where “it didn’t matter”. On the final day we were biding our time on the city beach strip at Split, before an evening flight back to London. Beside a cafe, stretched out on pricey hired loungers were the gamut of sunning sisters. Young, old, fat, thin, sexy, not so much —- and not one of them in a one-piece.

It was a couple of 70-somethings showering off the salt water next to me that really swung my opinion. Brown and wrinkly, with soft bellies and sagging breasts, they were clearly having a wonderful, cooling time at the seaside. A constricting one-piece wasn’t going to fool anyone about the effects of time on their bodies; why would they even want that? They stood straight, laughed and chattered, moved with ease and grace, not as if they had something to hide. They were simply themselves.

I run welldoing.org, a website that matches people with the therapists most suited to them. Women are the major users, and the majority are young. We often post pieces about body confidence —- or rather the lack of body confidence. Therapists and psychologists are noticing the increasingly impossible standards by which so many women are judging themselves.

We recently ran a post by Renee Engeln, professor of psychology at Northwestern University on exactly that subject: “The body shame so many women wrestle with isn’t about vanity. It’s important that we not brush it off or dismiss it. Body shame is linked with all sorts of nasty psychological outcomes, including eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. And while many seem to think that shaming women’s bodies is a way to encourage weight loss, the truth is that body shame makes it more difficult to take good care of your body.

“Body shame can trigger binge eating. It also makes you less likely to exercise and more reluctant to seek medical care when you need it. When you’re ashamed of your body, you’re less motivated to listen carefully to what your body needs and respond accordingly. Body shame can also weaken valuable social connections if it prompts you to avoid engaging with others.

How did we get to a place where so many women are feeling so much body shame?”

That is a longer, much more complex question. But the great thing about being 61 —- an advantage of my own age — is that I may finally be breaking free of it. Being older your body adjusts to the reduction of oestrogen. We all know it means our skin is drier, our sleep may be interrupted, and so on, but it also changes your emotional response. You care less about what other people think of you. Friends and family will usually still make the cut, but a crowd of people on a beach in a strange place? Why would that matter. You feel good in what you’re wearing, and that’s all that really matters to you. Now is your time to revel it!

You’re never too old to join technology’s bright young things | Business | The Times & The Sunday Times


0 Minute Read

Suzanne Noble admits that some people think she looks more like a technology entrepreneur’s mother than a tech entrepreneur herself. Her 24-year-old son even suggested that he take the helm of her money-saving app to tackle the ageism she has faced.

Ms Noble demurred. “I’ve consciously made a decision to be the person that’s at the front of this because I recognise that without a marketing budget that was going to be the easiest way for me to [attract attention].” But it is a double-edged sword. “I’ve had prospective investors say to me: ‘We wouldn’t normally invest in somebody like you.’ Meaning somebody of your age.”

Read the full story here: You’re never too old to join technology’s bright young things | Business | The Times & The Sunday Times

AofA People: Louise Chunn – Founder Welldoing.org


1 Minute Read

Louise Chunn is the founder of welldoing.org, a therapy matchmaking programme that enables people to find a local therapist just right for their needs. Prior to entering the world of technology, Louise was an Editor of Psychologies, Good Housekeeping and In Style, and was also Editor of the Guardian’s Women’s pages. She lives in NW London with her husband and teenage daughter.

WHO ARE YOU?

Louise Chunn

HOW OLD ARE YOU?

59

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

London

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am the founder of welldoing.org, which matches you with the best therapist for your needs. I also do some freelance journalist – I’m a former editor of five magazines, from Psychologies to Just Seventeen

TELL US WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE YOUR AGE?

I feel pretty good right this minute, but I do feel the shadow of turning 60 in the summer growing longer and more ominous

WHAT DO YOU HAVE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE AT 25?

Three children, my second husband, a life in London — I grew up in New Zealand and at 25 I was just about to leave

WHAT ABOUT SEX?

Women fear the menopause will mean the end of sex, but I’ve found the opposite. Not being able to get pregnant is a big weight off your shoulders

AND RELATIONSHIPS?

I feel much more open to making new friends these days

HOW FREE DO YOU FEEL?

Medium-level — don’t care so much what people think of me; can get anxious about financial futurers!

WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?

Picking myself up when I’ve been down (with help from others, of course)

WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?

Seeing other women my age continuing to do new and exciting things. I really value role models these days, but I also have to remember to ignore unrealistic goals

WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?

Reading a good book on a sunny evening in my little garden

AND WHERE DOES YOUR CREATIVITY GO?

I’m looking for an outlet actually

WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING?

It’s not a dress rehearsal.

AND DYING?

I think about this quite a lot, having had several friends die and been with them very near the end. It’s the Big Question and we just can’t bear to think about it.

ARE YOU STILL DREAMING?

Oh yes, I love to dream. I hate that my husband won’t talk to me about my dreams

WHAT WAS A RECENT OUTRAGEOUS ACTION OF YOURS?

I went to Silicon Valley on a residential accelerator course where I was the age of most of the other participants’ mothers – and spent the last night in a San Francisco dive dancing with the lads. Great fun!

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