South Hampstead author Kathy Lette: ‘Even grans are back in bikinis on Hampstead Heath’

Author Kathy Lette

Author Kathy Lette - Credit: Archant

Bestselling author Kathy Lette has been sampling swimwear ahead of her annual beach break next month. During a recent trip to Hampstead Heath ponds, the South Hampstead resident discovered that from teenagers to grandmothers, bikinis are back. Writing exclusively in the Ham&High, she gives her tips to ladies worrying about their sun lounger look this year. Incidentally, the mother-of-two insists that her latest novel Courting Trouble is the perfect beach book.

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, centre, proudly shows off her bikini. Picture: ITV

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, centre, proudly shows off her bikini. Picture: ITV - Credit: Archant

Like vampires, most women avoid mirrors. With the approach of summer holidays however, there’s no choice but to brave the department store changing rooms in search of swimwear.

A ‘costume drama’ does not describe a BBC series with bustles and bonnets. No, it’s this year’s agonizing decision about whether you’re too old for a bikini.

Why? Because 55-year-old Lorraine Kelly, gyrating on telly in her teeny weeny bikini, plus 69-year-old Helen Mirren looking poised and perfect in her red two piece, means that the bikini benchmarks have changed.

A swim this morning at Hampstead ponds and then a dip later on in the Lido revealed that women are following suit – swimsuit. From girls to grans, the bikini is back.

So, do I dare to bare? Due to the pleasure of breast-feeding two children my boobs are like day-old party balloons. Which is why the shop assistant shoved me into a ‘Wonder-bra bikini top.’

Venturing a glance into the mirror, I saw with alarm that my breasts were now strapped up on my neck someplace, like a couple of spare double chins.

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But be warned. It’s called a ‘wonder bra’ because as soon as you take it off, you wonder where the hell your breasts went.

Steeling myself, I let my eyes creep cringingly downwards towards the miniscule bikini briefs. Well, it looks as though that weed-whacker I got for Mother’s Day was finally going to come in handy. It certainly gave ‘bad hair day’ a whole new meaning.

It was then time to confront my bottom. For most exhausted mums, the idea of ‘working out’ is a good, energetic lie down.

There is growing medical evidence, you know, that jogging can make you hot and sweaty.

But don’t contemplate liposuction. ‘Fridge-o-suction’ is more useful - just sucking the food right out at source.

With no inclination to diet, I convinced myself that being brown would make me look at least a stone slimmer, so slathered on some fake tan.

It said “rich Mediterranean” on the bottle, but I now look more tandoori than tanning salon.

My so-called ‘tan’ pulsates. It radiates. It looks as if I’m wearing a tangerine wet suit, with darker elbow patches and kneepads.

I resemble a distress flare. People could employ me at the scene of a boating accident.

Preparing for the August beach side break has made me so stressed, I’ve sprouted a pimple. (Now there’s a good look – wrinkles and pimples.)

But surely the important thing to remember is that there are six billion women in the world who don’t look like supermodels. And only six who do.

If you’re feeling fat at the beach, just make sure you always stand next to a heavily pregnant woman. As for waxing, it’s the only context in which you’ll ever hear me say this, but Bring Back Bush.

So forget bikinis. For a middle-aged woman, there’s nothing more confidence-boosting than a sturdy, orthopaedic bathing suit. This year I’ll be sporting the Channel-crossing-neck-to-knee-circa-1922 look.

And don’t be fooled into spending a fortune on cellulite gels and other “miracle” creams. The miracle is that anyone would be stupid enough to fork out one hundred and fifty quid for them.

My other top tip is to choose the type of holiday destination that will be kind to your figure. Go to Greece, where body hair is considered sensuous. Or Brazil, where the bigger the backside, the better.

The bottom line, girls, is that looking good on the beach is a case of mind over matter – don’t mind and it doesn’t matter a bit.