When a friend moved back to Sydney after 20 or so years living in New York, she started asking me to accompany her to boot camp on Bondi Beach each morning at 6am.
“It’s amazing,” she enthused, which expats tend to do when they return to Australia and remember what swimming in the ocean feels like.
For those of us who stayed, it’s more like “6am, dear God. Hell no! And, anyway, arrgh the sun is so bad for your skin, and we’ll never get a park in Bondi”.
She finally wore me down, although I skipped the boot camp, and I have been enjoying some glorious swims.
Worth getting out of bed
But mostly I am just gobsmacked at how busy it is at 6am, and how spectacular looking everyone is, men and women, young and old.
My friends and I all agree that, while we looked pretty good when were young, we didn’t look like the young women do now, with their yoga taut bodies and gleaming tanned skin.
We might have been naturally slim(ish), given we were young, but we were generally also sunburnt, self-conscious and stuffing our faces with bags of lollies, Paddle Pops, and chicken Twisties … not oat milk and kale smoothies.
Australia’s national costume is now apparently an activewear set which consists of a cropped bra/tank top (and matching bike shorts) to show off a tiny, muscled waist and perfect bums.
This can also be worn to gym, running, the café, the pub, a party, or a black-tie event. Honestly, if I looked as good as most of them do, I’d just buy a set in half a dozen colours and be done with it.
What about the sun?
Sun care is a big issue though, especially for those of us with pale, Celtic skins.
I noticed one woman walking along the beachfront who looked fabulous, with huge sunglasses, a big pull-down straw hat that shaded her entire face, and a muslin wrap protecting her shoulders and decolletage.
When I got closer, it turns out she was a friend, an ex-model now in her 60s who had learned about sun damage the hard way (ie sunbaking in the ’70s).
We both grew up in the Shire, when competitive tanning was a hobby, and I am constantly getting sunspots frozen off my nose to remind me.
The only safe tan is a fake tan.
But in the interests of getting Bondi Beach-ready, I have a few style tips the rock-hard abs can’t help you with.
I could do boot camp, or I could splash about in the ocean like a porpoise, and I’ve made my choice.
But the new must-haves are:
- Power Sunblock. I love the Mecca Cosmetica brand, as it is matte and sinks into skin almost immediately. I also like Outside SPF50, which is in a handy spray form, a new range created by Australian actress Maddison Brown (@outsideskin).
- A muslin wrap. Clever friend.
- A one-piece swimsuit rashie. Very chic and will prevent sunburn and any more dreaded white spots. The style with the stripes down the side of the torso is super slimming.
- A daily application of Dove gradual self-tan body lotion. Covers a lot of sins. Especially those from the ’70s.
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