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 I'm sharing featured photoshoot, travel city guides and my favourite photoshoot locations. I'll also share Stories about my journey as a photographer and visual artist.

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Boudoir

What the women in Italy on the beach in Rimini have taught me about body image

When I recently saw a tweet by a French politician about women being pressured to get the perfect body to show up on the beach in a bikini, I couldn’t have agreed more. This tweet couldn’t have come at a better time than after the day I’d spent on the beach in Rimini, Italy. And guess what? What I noticed was that all the women—whatever their size or age—were on the beach in bikinis, feeling confident in their skin and enjoying their time at the seaside with their loved ones. They were far more interested in having a good time than worrying too much about how they looked in swimsuits.

When we talk about body image, we’re usually referring to appearing healthy and fit to be attractive. However, what we’re taught to ignore is that body image goes deeper than just appearance. It’s about how comfortable we are with our body, how confident we feel within ourself, and how we view ourself. This was highlighted for me when I was on the beach in Rimini, Italy.

These women taught me a few lessons in self-confidence and body image and it felt so great to see them enjoying themselves.

  1. These women aren’t perfect

    The women I saw on the beach didn’t look like models. Ok, let’s admit some of the teenagers and twenty-somethings could have been spotted as models, but the beach was not only crowded with twenty-somethings. I was there on a weekend, so you had lots of people with children as well as a lot of older women. They weren’t all thin, tall, or young. I’m a true believer in self-love and self-confidence. Having great self-love and self-confidence will get you anywhere and make you a magnet to others even if you don’t look like Claudia Schiffer. It’s all about attitude—choosing to hide in clothing that will do just that—make you invisible or choosing to embrace what makes you a woman and celebrate it by enjoying life, standing up for yourself, and owning your power.

2. These women where bold and wearing confidence on their sleeves

I guess you need confidence to wear a bikini after 50, and strangely enough I’ve never been confident enough to wear one in places where I might see people I know. That’s why I’m inspired by these women…they made me think, “Why shouldn’t I wear a bikini?” It’s time to take out my bikinis and wear them around proudly! My body isn’t perfect…I have a lot of trouble fighting weight gain, I do my best to keep my weight at a certain level, but I don’t look like a personal trainer! Is it important for others to see me as a gym guru? No! I decided that rather than being something that makes other people look great, being creative should be my priority. And because of these women, I feel more relaxed about wearing a bathing suit.

3. Instead what I see is owning the right to age the way they want to

Last year I wrote a blog post about 50-year-old French journalist Yann Moix. He boasts about how hot women are only if they’re 25 years old, and never touches any woman over 50 because that’s “too gross.” I mean, come on—he’s over 50 himself. So if we listen to the Yann Moix type of guys, we just have to hide and become invisible after 40. Great—I’m glad a lot of women and men don’t think this way and have decided to own the right to get older. I currently follow several women over 60 on Instagram, and they all give us a fair lesson about making the most of your life and stopping worrying about how you look.

When you think about it, who decides for you? Why would you punish yourself, hide in frumpy clothes, and stop showing up in a bikini simply because of your weight or because you’re over 45? Guess what? No one can decide for you. You have to take the first step and make that decision for yourself. It’s like wanting to book a boudoir photoshoot because you love being a woman and deserve to celebrate your body but constantly postponing it because you still have 5 pounds to lose or think I would look so much better when I’m slimmer. Sorry to disappoint you, but talking from experience, it might never happen ( I have been there). So don’t wait for perfection and book that boudoir photoshoot now!

4.Things are changing for the good

We should all celebrate body positivity, diversity, and inclusivity! I’ve noticed that many lingerie brands have stopped retouching their models. In France, it’s now illegal to retouch a model’s body in a photograph; you must add a note letting customers know the photograph has been altered. After years of dieting and looking young, people can finally embrace who they are, throw their individual voices into the limelight, and become influential figures in the world—they don’t need to hide anymore just because they don’t fit into society’s standards of beauty. It doesn’t matter how large or small you are, what you do for a job, whether you have kids or not, your level of fitness, or anything else about yourself. What matters is finding that awareness and appreciation for who you are. I think that women on the beach in Rimini manage to do just this—not to try and be who they’re not, but to embrace who they really are. If we can all manage to do that, there’s really no need to worry about body image or what anyone might be saying behind our backs.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Portraits of Rachel by Corina Tough, Molly matcham