It’s been a good few years since the company-that-shall-not-be-named-because-they-don’t-deserve-the-attention did their campaign. You know the one. Massive yellow billboards that featured a girl in a tiny yellow bikini? Slogan designed to make you feel rubbish because you don’t look like said girl? When I used to pick up the Jubilee Line from Green Park everyday, I’d hang a left on the platform and stand opposite lady Beach Body.
I never thought about her too much, if I’m honest. She was just another poster whose aim was to make me part with my money by making me feel bad about myself. But I think about her all the time now. Because when those people made that ad, I don’t think they realised what ‘Beach Body’ truly meant. Neither did I, because I lived in London, and the beach was very far away both geographically and metaphorically.
But now I’m here to set them straight. Because oh boy, do I know. This is what a beach body looks like:
Super-tanned hands and feet
When it’s early in the year and the water’s still cold, you’ll tend to wear a wetsuit. Even though there is no discernible sun ninety per cent of the time, you’ll still end up with impossibly tanned hands and feet. ‘Never mind,’ you’ll think, ‘when I stop wearing the wetsuit they’ll even up’. Except that what nobody tells you is that THEY NEVER WILL AND YOU WILL LOOK LIKE YOU’RE WEARING GLOVES AND SOCKS MADE OF YOUR OWN SKIN FOREVER.
Seemingly-permanent pallor everywhere else
You know how the Victorians used to go to the seaside to recuperate from their health problems? You just basically look like that all the time even though you’ve been outside wearing vests and shorts for weeks. Always keeping the spirit of the consumptive weaklings (just about) alive.
It’s a quirk of living near the beach I live near, but everything you own and every single part of you will just be a little bit permanently dusty. It gets everywhere, in much the same way as sand gets everywhere, except worse because it is smaller and, well, more dusty.
Whether they’ve recently been grated on the grippy surface of a paddleboard, scraped on stones as you fail to get out of the sea gracefully when there’s lots of swell, or they’re just grazed and bruised because you fell over in front of every shopper on Truro high street (not me, obvs. Never me.), your legs will attract glances that you will tell yourself are looks of admiration, but which are definitely ones of concern.
You’ll never be sure if it’s the time they spend submerged in salt water, the time they spend gripping the handlebars of your bike, or some kind of weird medical thing, but the skin on the palms of your hands might well start to peel off every fortnight without fail. Just try to avoid introducing yourself to anybody ever lest you damage their nice smooth hands with your sandpaper ones.
I mean, it’s the sea, innit? There’s a whole situation and JVN would not approve.
There’s a new Instagram face filter in town and it’s called ‘I don’t remember having such massive bags under my eyes, oh wait – it’s just the marks from my goggles. But I went swimming twelve hours ago, why haven’t they gone away? Well, I guess this is just my what I look like now.”
So much flailing
As an almost-daily sea swimmer, you definitely feel like you have to prove yourself to the tourists. You can get in without letting them see you shiver. You know exactly when to jump so you don’t step in the seaweed-y bit. But you also know there are four kinds of stinging jellyfish that live so close they basically count as your next-door neighbours so maybe you’re a little bit jumpy on occasion. It doesn’t make you any less of a pro. Except that it probably does and you’re a little bit ashamed that, if anything, you might actually be getting wussier the more you learn.
OH MY GOD I CAN’T WAIT TO BE ON A BILLBOARD.