"A norm is a guideline or an expectation for behavior. Each society makes up its own rules for behavior and decides when those rules have been violated and what to do about it. Norms change constantly."
This is the definition I got when I Googled "social norms". I was curious because I'm spending a lot of time at the pool here in Kauai. I'm pondering the incongruity of all the time spent shopping for attractive outfits, looking this way and that in front of mirrors, making sure all the bulges are tamed and everything fits to maximum flattering effect, versus, well, baring it all in public just because there is a swimming pool in the vicinity.
In olden days, these were the beach fashions:
These days this is more the ideal:
Of course, not everyone wears a bikini, thankfully! Some look great in one. But some, well, do not. It's a rarity to find anyone who is without bulge, flaw, flab or sag and a bikini accentuates the less than positive.
Still, I'm all for embracing a positive body image and I love the freedom some folks have to let it all hang out (literally). I just wonder exactly when we collectively decided that revealing so much skin, more than my doctor has asked to see for my last two physical exams, is socially acceptable.
A modicum of modesty and good taste seems to prevail in our "normal" day-to-day interactions, but at the pool, anything goes!!! Cellulite, varicose veins, scars, tattoos, butt cracks, woolly back hair, enormous beer bellies, scrotums nestled in their Speedo nests, breasts threatening to break free of the strip of cloth holding them hostage -- it's all OK! It's all on display!
I'm not a prude and I don't really care so much about how much people decide to reveal. I really do think, since this is an agreed-upon social norm, that everyone should show up at the pool and feel comfortable regardless of body size or shape or condition. I guess I'm just curious. Is everyone really as comfortable as they appear? I wear a pretty modest black one-piece suit and I still look in the mirror and think, "Hmmm, where are my leggings?"
At least, that's the (sometimes startling) view from here...©