Oi, stop that, there shall be no guilt-free lying in the sun

According to the magazines I was flicking through, it was high time to focus one’s energy on developing a beach body. And there was me thinking I had to go home and crack open a Cornetto

Certain magazines are obsessed with ‘the perfect beach body’. Above: a hot day at Dollymount. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Certain magazines are obsessed with ‘the perfect beach body’. Above: a hot day at Dollymount. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


I observed a photoshoot the other day. I sat on a rock and watched an intense young man with kiss curls and several cameras cascading around his manly neck making a pleasantly diverting song and dance of photographing a wispy blonde model.

The girl in front of the lens was wearing a straw hat, the contents of a bottle of fake tan and a remarkably dull swimming costume; she looked, under the awning of her big brim, simultaneously flattered and deeply self-conscious.

They weren’t alone, the photographer and the model. Two assistants were also present, both young, female and fully-clothed (it was early, and there was a sharpish breeze rustling the seagrass). One of them was busy holding the model’s dressing gown; the other spoke tersely into a mobile phone, did a lot of sunglass-adjusting and petulant sand-kicking and generally emitted radio waves of tension that were blown out to sea by the niggling wind, causing the good people of Wales to snap at their cats.

From my vantage point on the rock above this small, inconsequential piece of theatre (I suspect the shoot was for the kind of catalogue that also offers stairlifts and sensible pants), I would have said that the angry girl on the telephone was a far more alluring subject than the goosepimpled golden girl in front of the camera, with her clinically white teeth and all those years of professional disappointment ahead of her.

But then again, as has often been noted, when was the last time you heard somebody say, “Cor, look at the personality on that”?

Anyway, later that day, marooned in the waiting room of my GP’s surgery with a dozen glossy magazines for company, I read in several publications that it was high time to focus one’s energy on developing a beach body, presumably similar to the one I had witnessed earlier in the day. And there was me thinking that as soon as I got out of there I had go home and crack open a Cornetto.

I’m generally too mean to buy the glossies, too parsimonious to put my hand in my pocket for the pleasure of viewing Courteney Cox’s hair extensions or pictures of shoes that I could neither balance in nor afford. But what else is there to do while you’re waiting for your cholesterol to be counted, and what’s a little ringworm between patients compared to the endless fun of thumbing through dog-eared horoscopes and looking at all the must-have spring essentials that failed to materialise in your wardrobe, despite the sunny outlook for Gemini?


Blue skies and all the rest

Given the week that was in it, blue skies and all the rest, and given that there shall be no “guilt-free” lying in the sun unless you have spent the last six months living on pickled ginger with your thighs wrapped in cling film, I thought I would put my extensive reading to use and offer you pass notes for a “sensational” beach body, one that you can use to wrestle your flip-flops from someone else’s Labrador or that you can asphyxiate while blowing up the lilo.

In a nutshell, don’t eat or drink anything that hasn’t been extruded from the pores of a woodland nymph, especially a vat of warm Chardonnay, which directly leads to three pieces of toast and butter and hitting the sack with your make-up on.


Turn off the radio

If you can’t bear self-denial, however, and want to “improve your silhouette” and “achieve your dream body”, the magazines helpfully offer various imaginative options that you can barter your firstborn for.

These tricks of the trade include rolling bipolar radio frequencies – who knew radio frequencies suffered so? – and infrared heat over your lumpy bits, which lifts both your buttocks and your spirits.

Then, if you’re struggling to rid yourself of a muffin top (which used to be called a spare tyre before we all went decimal and mid-Atlantic), you can have hot and cold paddles applied to your body fat until it liquefies, then have the whole sumpy pile of gloop shoved into your new and improved backside. Fab.

If you’re really lucky, they’ll even put a little turnkey on your back that twists to make your hair grow out of the hole in your cranium, or maybe fit you with detachable plastic legs that you can twirl around like a windmill. And don’t worry if you lose one: there’s always a couple of spares hanging around the bottom of the toy box.

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