Aging disgracefully

2013-09-04 10:00

People like Jessica Rey, who frown on bikinis, can kiss my big bhamuza.

There’s a woman in America advocating that women dress more modestly.

She can count me out of that movement because last year I pledged to grow into one of those women who age inappropriately.

You know them: those mamas who use social gatherings as a platform to show off their wrinkly, deflating boobs; who see summer as an opportunity to break fashion’s cardinal rule that you shall not show breast and leg at the same time; the kind in whose faces Coco Chanel would blow smoke.

I’m going to be one of them. I have as an actual item to cross out on my mental bucket list: “Show more cleavage before you die.”

This American woman (her name is Jessica Rey) wants to get as many women as possible out of bikinis and into full-piece swimsuits.

In 2008 she launched a line of vintage-inspired swimwear called Rey Swimwear, which, when I saw it, further encouraged me against her cause.

Just too much pastel and too many polka dots.

From that sepia-toned website, I also learnt that she now has an international presence in 19 countries, so she seems to be inching ever closer to her version of world domination.

In April this year – in her knee-length dress, sensible heels and Ted Talk voice – she gave a speech titled The Evolution of the Bikini to a Christian gathering, who reciprocated with polite, appreciative applause.

She’s already got close to 900?000 views on YouTube.

Still, even without these platforms, I know I’m making progress in my own cause because last summer my 11-year-old niece scanned me up and down before we were about to go out into the sun and said: “But Auntie Joonji, you like to wear short things, né?” It was not immediately clear if her tone was disapproving, so I just nodded and we went out and had a good time.

Recently, after I whatsapped my mother a picture of a dress I planned to wear for a special event, she asked my sister to please remind me that this was not an occasion for me to show off my curves.

My sister and I chuckled about it because we’re, like, over 30 already.

Plus, I’m the one who calls her with a message from mum to ask her to please stop buying dresses that show off her “big bhamuza”.

So, as you can gather, I’m eliciting some reaction too.

But this is not just a fight about bodies; it’s about minds too.

It’s common sense actually, because it’s shocking that we can still tell grown women in this day and age how they should dress.

If I had not seen the video of this American woman myself, I would have sworn this message had come from the taxi drivers at the Noord Street rank.

To prove her point, Rey draws on the most sexist of scientific studies.

“Brain scans revealed that when men were shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tools, such as screwdrivers and hammers, lit up.

“Some men showed zero brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that lights up when one ponders another person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions.”

She continues: “Researchers found this shocking because they almost never see this part of the brain shut down in this way. And a Princeton professor said: ‘It’s as if they are reacting to these women as if they are not fully human. It’s consistent with the idea that they are responding to these photographs as if they are responding to objects, not people’.”

From this we are to conclude that men can’t think at the sight of naked flesh.

And this is somehow my responsibility, as a woman, to set right or I cannot hold them responsible for their actions. What nonsense.

Plus I hate that word ‘modesty’. It’s never done me any favours – not in the home or the workplace.

“Modesty,” Rey says, “is not about hiding ourselves; it’s about revealing our dignity.”

I don’t know what that means. But I do know this: I’m wearing my red bikini this summer.

And Jessica Rey can kiss my big bhamuza if she doesn’t like it.

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