Having put off swimming for most of my teenage and early 20s, I finally decided to dip a diffident toe in a pool last year. Not that I was scared of water or plagued by the horrors of a chlorinated and a urinated (I try not think about that!) public pool, but it was the sticky issue of the
swimming costume that plagued my aquatic horror story. Growing up on a healthy diet of Baywatch and FTV Midnight Hot segments, the idea of wearing anything other than a two-piece/high-cut scarlet red swimsuit seemed sacrilegious.
So, I waited it out to achieve the ‘bikini-ready’ body. Did it pan out as planned? Umm, No! And I was soon in the frumpiest swimsuit on the planet, with a little froufrou attached to the bottom. But I wasn’t alone, as even the svelte water babes dressed as embarrassingly at the poolside. Clearly Indians didn’t do bikinis.
Or that’s what you’d think, if you manage to dodge the countless ‘Beachy Fun’ Facebook albums where every second woman wears a bikini, even if peeping slightly from under a frayed, loose T-shirt.
However, the quickly climbing two-piece sales by resort wear designers Shivan & Narresh and Zivame.com, a lingerie online store, would point to the contrary. “Indian girls wear bikinis when they vacation abroad or in Goa. The maximum sales for our bikinis happen in the winter which is honeymoon season and the favoured time to holiday at global resorts minus the family,” says Zivame.com CEO Richa Kar. “In summer though, we end up selling a lot of tankinis, shorts and single-piece swimsuits. It’s the time when women take up swimming, often in a public space,” she adds.
Dropping inhibitions abroad seems easier than in India, where a little skin show is still discomforting. “I wear a single-piece swimsuit in Delhi, even though I own a bikini, only because men still can’t handle the dangerous poolside combination of booze, water and sexy women. I wish I could wear it without being seen as looking for unnecessary attention,” says Samhita Tanti, a communications professional.
The New Summer Song
You can’t be ‘summer ready’ armed with just with a bottle of sunscreen lotion any longer. It now involves carefully calibrated preparations that start right after the party-excess December.
Six months before her honeymoon, for instance, Manvi Khandelwal, 29, a Mumbai-based software professional, took to the treadmill. “I hit the gym six days a week for an hour a day and regulated my diet. Not just that, I also got regular massages, took full-body scrubs and made sure my skin was absolutely smooth for the big reveal.”
Not only do girls throng gyms with a vengeance, the friendly neighbourhood cosmetic surgeon is also getting popular. Dr Anup Dhir, a surgeon with Delhi’s Apollo Hospital, says women come for breast augmentation and tummy tucks in March and April to get in shape for a bikini. “Sometimes, I also get requests for chemical peels for the butt to make it fairer and smoother.”
Are bikinis bad?
Kareena won’t do it again, Katrina might, Rani will go half-way, Bipasha and Lara won’t eat for days and Anushka will field accusations of anorexia once she does it. But it’s not just the Bollywood brigade and ‘Page 3 types’ in metropolitan cities who fancy flaunting a bikini. Every tenth collection piece that designer duo Shivan & Narresh sell is a bikini and many of these are in towns such as Nagpur and Raipur.
With a little obvious help from Bollywood’s growing obsession with beach scenes and TV shows like the Kingfisher Calendar Girl Hunt, the two-piece is grabbing more eyeballs than ever, thus shifting the bikini to borderline normalcy.
Atul Kasbekar, photographer for the Kingfisher Calendar, agrees that it isn’t taboo to wear a bikini anymore. “Earlier, it was only the villain’s moll who used to slip into a pair smiling lasciviously at the poolside. Now A-list actresses donning bikinis have conditioned people.”
But can a bikini dare overstep the boundary of an absolutely ripped body? Certainly, says designer Anupama Dayal, who regularly sends out models in bikinis and believes wearing one has less to do with having a perfect body and more with one’s attitude. “One of the girls in my production team, who isn’t the regular model size by any stretch of imagination, recently ended up lending a few of her bikinis to slender models who didn’t own a single pair!”
Still not convinced? We suggest you Google real Brazilian women. And don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Fit to show Skin
While attitude and comfort can take you places, a little sartorial advice is never wasted when trying a bikini. Vogue India’s fashion director Anaita Shroff Adajania says bikinis suit the Indian body type but you can still tweak them to look perfect . “Since we’re already used to showing our midriff and back with saris, Indian women are an almost natural fit for a bikini. Wear a high-cut to elongate your legs and the right bikini top to support your bosom.”
Ultimately, if you’re still looking for the answer to our question: It’s a big, resounding, curvaceous YES! But we are still waiting to be inspired for the ‘Indian Man Ready for the Bikini’ edition!
How Hot Are They? You Say!
Orange bombshell: Halle Berry in Die Another Day. If you survive till then, that is! Brunch Rating: 8/10
Bond blonde: Enough has been written about Ursula Andress’ breathtaking entry from the ocean in Dr. No. It’s still not enough! Brunch Rating: 9.866/10
Bobby baby: Sparking a million adolescent dreams way back in the ’70s Dimple Kapadia at 16 made it look so easy, and cute! Brunch Rating: 7/10
Abs Grater: Thinking of grating salad on Lara Dutta’s hard abs in Blue? We did too! It almost looks possible! Brunch Rating: 20/10
What Kingfisher Calendar Girl Saiyami Kher did to get into a bikini:
* Ran for more than 10 km every single day!
* Gymmed for one and a half hours daily with light weight-lifting exercises: three times more than she did on a regular basis
* Having represented Maharashtra in the sport earlier, played badminton whenever possible to keep herself toned and pursue an activity outdoors
* Gave up chocolates and sweets entirely, something she says she can’t live without. Even avoided rice and rotis and survived just on veggies.
* Knocked off more than 5 kilos and several inches in just one month!
* Felt amazing about herself, no matter what!
From HT Brunch, March 25
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch