5 Tips to Make Aging Less Painful on Beach Vacations

5 Tips to Make Aging Less Painful on Beach Vacations

My mother and auntie claim to have a suicide pact. Both former nurses who have cared for and watched patients and parents fall into a sad decline of incontinence and senility, they say that they’ve agreed to kill each other when their old lives are no longer worth living because they cannot care for themselves.

It’s not a depressing topic, just something they used to discuss in a matter of fact way.

So here are my thoughts on aging and how to make it a less painful experience, especially when you’re at the beach surrounded by scantily clad young beauties which is when the pain of aging hits me hardest.

1. Think about death to appreciate life

They were children during World War II who grew up in England with rationing, always hungry in their boarding schools, grateful even for bad food. Now they are both well fed, overfed and as, they say themselves, fat old ladies in their mid-seventies. It’s hard to imagine how, if ever, they would action this suicide pact. Would my mother hold a pillow over Auntie’s face as she slept? Would my Auntie carefully save my mother’s pain killers until she had enough to one day administer a fatal dose?

Now I am getting old too and starting to think about the same things. Some friends have already died of cancer or aggressive forms of leukaemia which spirited them away from their young families practically overnight. I wonder if it is better to know you’re dying and have a year or two to prepare for death or to have it suddenly sneak up on you and take you out before you really know what’s hit you?

2. Don’t age gracefully

When I was young I always asked my dad what age he liked me best at. My brother was younger and at some stage it seemed to me that I had fallen from grace and stopped being Dad’s favourite. I wanted to trace when that had happened and why.

Now I am 44. My father is dead but my body is deteriorating daily, almost before my eyes, probably accelerating in its decline in the final half of my life. Arches are falling, moles and skin tags appearing where none were before and wrinkles breeding and deepening.

The SKII cream I bought back from Japan helps fight the wrinkles. The face of SKII is Cate Blanchett, a Hollywood actress who was born with blemish-free iridescent skin and who probably gets weekly facials and skin peels.

It’s my aging brain that worries me most. I already forget things, keeping lists everywhere of groceries that need to be bought, things that need to be done and birthdays I shouldn’t miss. My children tell me I repeat myself.

“What did you say, dear?” I ask them. “I can’t hear you.”

3. Dress inappropriately for your age

It’s the height of summer here in Australia and the beaches are packed.

I have a great bikini my mum bought me on sale at the end of last season. It has a bright floral print which makes me look slimmer, heavily padded cups with a delicate frill round the top which makes me look as if I have breasts and modest bottoms because my bum could not be contained by a string bikini.

But thanks to the fancy bikini I walk up and down the beach thinking I look pretty good. Or at least pretty good for a 40+ year old woman who’s had three kids.

I know it’s ridiculous though, to feel body confident because my tummy is kind of a pouch. All that stretched skin can never shrink all the way back so there’s a tell-tale swollen donut of flesh that sits above my hip bones and below my ribs. I see it on other mums too. Also, everyone must realise there’s nothing much inside my bikini top. But let’s not even talk about tits here because they deserve a dedicated blog post.

4. Realise in 10 years time you’ll look back and think about how great you look now

I stopped wearing a bikini after having my first child because of my donut and switched to a tankini which covered my tummy. But then, after my second baby boy, I changed back to bikinis again because a pouchy brown tummy looks better than a pouchy white tummy. Also I have a small pregnancy-induced hernia by my tummy button and it’s amazing how many people mistake it for a six pack.

When my two boys were four and one year old a friend and I went on holiday to Fiji. We stayed on a backpacker island where most of the other guests were 20 years younger than us. So of course I was terrified about baring my body on the beach but, when I did, I found the bodies were almost evenly divided between the great and the not so great and that, despite my age, mine fit somewhere in between those two.

My daughter looks fantastic in a bikini. She is eight so doesn’t need to wear a bikini top at all and I wish Australia was like France where all the little girls just wear bikini bottoms. But then I’m glad it’s not France because if the young women on the beach were all topless it would kill me and I’d want to kill my husband too. Or at least gouge his eyes out.

5. Laugh at yourself

When I was in my teens my dad bought me a black and pink  neon striped string bikini. I loved that bikini and I loved my body, even though I was badly teased for being skinny at school. I even wrote a letter to Cathy and Claire, the agony aunts at Jackie magazine telling them of my misery and asking for help. They didn’t publish my letter but they sent me back a body builders diet which no little girl would be able to eat.

Then when I went to high school someone scratched into one of the wooden desks:

“Annabel Candy I’d tell you a joke that will blow your tits off but I think you’ve already heard it.”

So I was always made to feel that my body was all wrong. But now I am having the last laugh because even though I’ve packed on weight in the last decade I’m still reasonably slim and increasingly good at dressing to look slimmer.

Today I wear a bikini because I want to be a person who doesn’t care what her body looks like, to feel that inner glow I got from my dad, who never criticised my body and walked down the beach aged seventy in a small pair of Speedos with a barrel-shaped grey-haired chest.

Most of all I want to feel liberated knowing that now, even though I’m looking at other people, they probably aren’t looking at me.

How do you cope with aging? Does it hit you hardest at the beach? Is there a deadline for my bikini-wearing days?

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  1. Seana Smith February 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel, you look fab in a bikini and I’ve seen the photos to prove it! Next time I pop up to Noosa we must sunbathe together. I will wear my tankini as I have NEVER worn a bikini. Not much call in Scotland and in Europe it was bottoms only and then… anyway!

    The sexiest thing on a beach is a wide smile and a come hither look. Lets practise the latter on our husbands as that would keep life much simpler. Much as I don’t mind the wrinkles of aging and am at peace with my rounded super-body I still do want to be a sexy chick, well to feel sexy at least.

    Here’s to a sense of humour above all and to enjoying the feel of sun and water on the skin – glorious at any age.

    • Annabel Candy February 19, 2013 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      Lol, you are too kind.

      My goodness I would find it hard to do the topless thing again. That padded bikini top and the larger bottoms are my secrets to beach confidence. I think we can all have that if we choose the right swimmers and get the right attitude… although being sexy might be harder!

      The beach is really the best feeling in the world – you’ve got that right about the feeling of the sun and water on our skin. I hope this will help more people enjoy it and not worry what they look like – it’s how we feel that matters :)

  2. Barbara February 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    You are killing me!! LOL! I’m here to tell you aging is not for sissies! But, considering the alternative….

    I’ve seen pics of you in a bikini and you have nothing to worry about. As for the tits…I tell my daughters-in-law that even an A cup can sag…I now have 34 longs.

    I truly wish I had appreciated the body I had when I had it, but I didn’t have the knowledge then I have now. I try to take solace in how much smarter I am now. I’m grateful I don’t look my age but I do notice every single solitary line with more scrutiny than ever before.

    I’ve been considering approaching a cosmetic company or surgeon about trade. BUT I had a botched liposuction incident back in the ’90’s and would truly hate to have that happen with my face!

    So I keep telling myself to just suck it up and age gracefully. As for bikini’s I haven’t had one since my youngest (who’s 41) was 3. I don’t even put a bathing suit of any kind on, but then I don’t swim so it’s not big deal.

    With all the activities you do and how thin you are you have nothing to worry about! Just don’t get too thin, because that heightens the lines and wrinkles!

    Oh to be a man with a beer gut and not give a damn, huh?

    • Annabel Candy February 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Barbara,

      Well I guess if you don’t swim and don’t go to the beach you don’t have anything to worry about. Lol re the 34 longs… I think that’s me too so thank heavens for the push up bras.

      I’m learning to love the physical changes even though they’re not for the better. I wonder about those men with the beer guts who wear tiny trunks. Do they really not give a damn or do they take it even further and not even notice that they should? Now that’s something to aim for.

  3. Jim ODonnell February 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Quite the entertaining read – especially for man!! The comments are even better. Thanks for the giggles!

  4. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family February 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    #4 is key! I recently found pictures of myself as a teen at the beach – wearing a one piece and boardshorts because I thought I was fat. I would KILL to be that size now that I’m 30 and have one child under my belt. Perspective is everything. :)

    • Annabel Candy February 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Bethaney,

      Oh yes, I spent a lot of time hiding away in ugly baggy clothes as a youngster. Perspective – will make that my mantra :)

  5. Leslie Horning February 20, 2013 at 4:44 am - Reply

    Love all these tips – especially the one about thinking about death to appreciate life. Great advice. I’m going to keep that in mind next time I’m at the beach!

    • Annabel Candy February 20, 2013 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Hi Leslie,

      Excellent :) It makes me feel much perkier!

  6. Connie February 20, 2013 at 6:05 am - Reply

    This is one of my favorite posts ever! I’m having a hard time with this shit too…especially when my same age friends are getting injections for the wrinkles, etc. The attention of much younger men helps, but doesn’t cure the disease of aging LOL.

    • Annabel Candy February 20, 2013 at 8:57 am - Reply

      Hi Connie,

      So glad you enjoyed it. I choose wrinkles over injections! And as for you getting the attention of younger men – woo hoo – you are obviously doing something right. I think people prefer confidence over high maintenance and unnatural looks and if you’re confident then you look better anyway. Maybe that’s what people find appealing in you :)

  7. Sandra Pawula February 20, 2013 at 10:10 am - Reply

    I’m all for the inner glow and forgetting the externals!

    • Annabel Candy February 20, 2013 at 10:11 am - Reply

      Hi Sandra,

      Sounds great. Now how do you do that? Tell me please :)

  8. Alyson February 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Anabel, I’m 46 and looking menopause squarely in the eye. I’m ageing disgracefully and I actually feel more body confident now than I did when I was younger. I don’t think anybody really cares what I look like any more and I stroll around the beach with a fair amount of pride, in my beautiful children and in myself. I stopped wearing a bikini at about your age, but I might just start again! The sad thing is, when I was younger and looked pretty darn good, I never realised, I was always trying to hide. Oh well, here’s to being a menopausal, lumpy, bumpy backpacker.

    • Annabel Candy February 23, 2013 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Hi Alyson,

      So glad you’re aging disgracefully! It feels so wrong to feel more body confident as our bodies are aging but it’s happening to me too.

      Good on you and let me know if you get back into a bikini ;)

  9. Cate February 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,
    it’s a long time since I wore a bikini, but it’s a long time since I’ve lived near a beach (3 hours as opposed to the 2 minute walk of my teenage years) – also, age and wisdom has taught me that my fair English skin will never tan, it just gets red and peels! But I do want to add that as a 50 year old I feel more confident and happy in myself than I have since those innocent pre-teen years. And aging does have its added benefits – my not-so-twenty-twenty vision means I don’t notice the wrinkles so much. Anyway, I reckon I’ve earned them – and my lovely grey hair, too.
    C :)

    • Annabel Candy February 23, 2013 at 9:18 am - Reply

      Hi Cate,

      You too feeling more confident as you age – it’s such a surprising but wonderful experience :)

      Lol re the failing eyesight making you not notice the wrinkles. I’m sure you look wonderful and am starting to appreciate the character old people show in their faces. It’s a gift to live a long life so why should we feel ashamed if we look our ages?!

  10. eduardo buenagua February 23, 2013 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    A great read! But not much to say of course. I will forward this stuff to a friend, a girl, who must be more in a position to comment about those bikini, tankini, whatever!, and also about aging women.

    But this is the only thing I could say about aging, I read this somewhere, sometime I couldn’t remember even the one who said it but it goes: “Age is just a mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

    There, that’s it.



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