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Friday, April 5, 2013

One Brain, Two Sides: Why I Hate/Love Bikini Season

*I've had some wine. Just letting you know.*

It's here. Winter has ended and Spring is just beginning and all the big retail stores have broken out the dreaded bikini advertisements. You can't walk into one of these stores without seeing the bikinis front and center, the girls in the pictures above the clothes posing in them.

Don't mistaken me for some Bible thumping zealot, I'm not ... but this time of year is the worst for me at least. The Winter is a nice break from all that ... it's hard to make big fluffy jackets look sexy. Sorry, Winter wear is designed to keep you warm not make you look hot.

But the Spring stuff is designed to make you look hot while also being cool. Confused? So am I. I don't get it but I hate this time of year.

I also love this time of year.

Let me explain (if it isn't already apparent where this is going).

My hatred of bikini season stems back to when I was a younger lad ... like 12. I was just on the cusp of teenage life and beginning to notice that A) girls were becoming more interesting to look at and B) I was in no way shape or form within their league.

It's a sobering piece of news for a 12 year old but I figured it pretty early on. After all, I was on large adult t-shirts and big jeans (32s I think). I was not in good shape and I even passed out one day in P.E. due to the heat. Alabama weather is not kind to the large when they try to run laps in 90+ degree weather.

My hatred stems, in part, from the fact I never was able to take advantage of my teenage years in pursuing the pretty girls in bikinis.

My hatred also stems, in part, from comparing myself to the girls in bikinis.

"Wait a minute, you're a guy ... why the hell do you compare yourself to them?" You ask.

Let me tell you, thinness is thinness. Whether it's a guy or gal, the comparisons are always there. Always. I don't expect anyone else to agree with me but I hate bikini season simply because of all the girls in the ads that have these unbelievably thin bodies and ... well, I didn't then. I still don't (though I'm much closer).

I've only recently begun comparing myself to the other fellas because before there was no point. Fat kid. Always a fat kid. Will never be anything other than the fat kid. Why bother?

But there's no way to escape comparing myself to the girls in bikini season. Not only is it hard to look away from them in bikinis (at least the ones that can actually pull it off) but it's also really hard to reconcile what I see with what I feel.

What do I feel? This is where the love of bikini season comes in. I mean, come on, pretty girls in bikinis for the Spring and Summer ... pools, beaches, and waterparks full of many of these pretty ladies?

Fellas, fellas, fellas ... what we have here is a kid in a candy store. The imagery is strong, to say the least. As a guy, as all guys are, I'm wired for visual cues. Why do you think sports on TV have all these fancy graphics? Men like visual flair. We like visual fun.

And bikinis are the definition of fun, visually speaking. What exactly are we missing? We have 80-90 percent of the female body on display and it's VOLUNTARY. We didn't have to beg. We didn't have to pay. We don't even have to know them, most of the time we just look and admire ... it's the best no string's attached thing.

No one gets hurt. Nothing gets messy. It's just a pretty girl in a bikini, our minds, and our eyes.

... and it sucks. This brings me back to why I hate bikini season. It's horrible. Sure, it's visually appealing (to say the least) but the images are haunting.

It's hard to get rid of them. Eventually, over-saturation just desensitizes you to the point where you don't notice looking anymore. It's just a checklist mentality ... see a pretty girl in a bikini, look, catalog, and move on.

That's not right.

You know what else isn't right? The fact that so many girls feel pressured to wear the bloody things. And that pressure makes them want to look like the girls in the ads and makes them think less of themselves than is true.

"How do you know? You're a guy. You don't get it," you say.

Oh, I get it. I see it. I've had the fortune of knowing many pretty girls in my life. Each of them had their physical flaws, each of them had their own quirks, but all of them have one thing in common. When I tell them "You look great" in response to some self-depreciating dig at their looks (I know those types of digs, I made my living on them for years) I get the same look. That dismissive smile and some excuse that justifies why their dig is exactly right and my opinion is complete BS.

I hate it. Ladies, please, listen: I can't speak for other guys but I can speak for me and when I tell you you look great, believe me. Because I will tell you when you don't. I don't do subtlety. I do blunt.

And bluntly I tell you, I'm tired of you girls throwing yourselves under the bus. I get it, the world around you says you need to be thin and pretty looking and have plenty of make-up on to cover the blemishes just to GET BY in this messed up place. I get it.

"Really? How?" You ask.

How? Because I'm dealing with the male equivalent of it now. When you're the fat guy, you don't have to compare yourself to the thin guys. You're never going to be there and history is full of great fat guys who made it work. We fat guys look up to the great fat guys and aspire to be them. In a man's world, being fat is much easier and far more forgiving than in a woman's world.

But I'm not fat anymore. I am thin, technically and literally speaking. This still bothers me but I'll get used to it eventually.

What I'm having more difficulty getting used to is trying to fit into one of two thin guy camps: the six-pack ripped guys or the stick-thin guys. Now that I'm thin, I have to aim for one of those two things according to the man's world. You don't want to be the thin-fat guy ... you don't want to have any fat on you as a thin guy because that makes you look like a lazy SOB for not putting forth the effort to get truly thin.

I can never be the stick-thin guy. Sure, I can get into skater clothes but that says less about me and more about the mainstreaming of skaters. No, I don't have the body type to be that ... I can feel my hip bones as it is.

So that leaves me with the ripped/six pack guys and I have a problem there too: I got a ton of loose skin on my midsection that won't go away and just sits there, sadly.

Meanwhile, in virtually every movie I watch the guys take off their shirts and are ripped. The underwear models are ripped. The suit guy models are ripped. What the hell, Batman?

I get it, ladies. It's not exactly the same but I feel the similarities are strong.

I'm sorry, ladies. Men have played a part in spreading this lie that all women must look good in a bikini and must strive for that body. I'm no feminist, don't confuse me for that, but part of the blame falls on men. We find it visually appealing, those bikini bodies but you can't take that to the bank.

The visual eventually means nothing. You remember when VHS used to be best thing ever? You remember when DVDs came along and things looked so much better than VHS? Then Blu-rays?

That's what it is for men and bikini season. It's all that and eventually it doesn't matter anymore ... we don't buy the Blu-rays for the upgrade in visual quality, we're looking for better features ... we want to know the deleted scenes. We want the director's cut. We want to know the inside and out of that movie and how it was made.

It's the same way with you ladies. The visual stuff in bikini season is what appeals to us at first but we eventual grow dead to it and we want to know the deeper stuff. You must forgive us for being so drawn in by your beauty and you must forgive us for telling you have to look THAT way to even be considered beautiful.

You don't. As I've discovered, the body will only go so far before it says "No more!" Listen to your body and don't force yourself to be thin for the sake of looking good in a blasted bikini. If you want to do that, then do but make sure YOU want it ... don't do it because of pressure from the outside.

I hate bikini season. I hate it for all the ads and the sights. I hate it for what it makes me feel ... a strange mix of guilt, admiration, and lust all rolled into one. I hate what it does to my female friends who feel badly about their bodies because they feel they don't look good in a bikini.

Hear me, ladies: You look great. It's the truth, so take it and run with it.

Thanks for reading. Have a good night folks.

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