Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The beach body? A mirage in the sand

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Spring has sprung this week. Oh, spring is finally here, the April breezes helping melt away the detritus of winter.

Where spring takes root, the summer follows. So too do all the hazy pleasures of these lazy prairie months, all the ball games and festivals and nights spent laughing on sticky benches outside the BDI. There are the free concerts at Old Market Square and languid walks along the muddy rivers. There are escapes to the cabin, if you're blessed enough to have one, and days spent splashing in the surf that washes up along Grand Beach.

So it's time to ask: How are you going to get your beach body?

This is an important topic. You might have seen it featured on the covers of many glossy magazines. Inside their slippery pages, there are tips to help you locate and acquire your beach body, including eager suggestions from celebrities who have obtained the finest bodies for the beach. These celebrity methods pack a punch on the wallet, we admit. But never fear: You can find a beach body to fit every budget.

For instance, why not support local, and start shopping for your fresh new beach body at the farmers market?

While you're there, don't forget to pick up some carrots. You don't need to feed your new beach body too much, just enough -- a few glasses of liquefied vegetables and a clump or two of kale. That's how you keep a beach body lean. Because a beach body must be a taut and tight and placid thing, free of folds or unbeachy ripples of the flesh. The furrows of its rib cage should mark the space between its breasts, an osteo-adornment revealed by the tumbling neckline of a voluminous white dress...

Excuse me, I'm sorry. We're not talking about how to get your wedding body. We are talking about how to get your beach body. Please come back another time if you would like to find out how to get your wedding body. Wedding bodies are not the topic we are discussing today.

No, today we are discussing beach bodies, plucked and toned and small enough to be contained by Lycra scraps. Bronze and bare and hairless bodies, torn up by the roots. Bodies baked inside a body-shaped coffin until they are all one colour, smooth, pretending that they've already known the sun. Feet scraped and polished and painted so they look cute in that Instagram photo as they sink into the sand.

We concede it is an expensive and time-consuming proposal to acquire your beach body.

Still, it cannot be delayed. There are only eight, perhaps 10 weeks left until you must have your beach body acquired and ready for public consumption and display. So again, this is for your own good. Please ask yourself this important question:

How are you,

where,

when are you

going to get your

beach body?

(The washing machine is churning in the hallway. The kids are all asleep. In the pallid lamplight of the bedroom, she sets the magazine down. She tugs her rumpled flannel pyjama pants up above her knees and admires there the bruise from where she slipped on ice at the bus stop last week. She's never noticed how her knees jut out like this before, knobby as old mountains ground down into heaved plateaus, and thatched with a scrubby brush of deep-brown hair.

She feels now how her thighs sink down into the mattress, dimpled by the flesh that swaddled there in her sophomore year. The year she made the basketball team. The year Mr. Friesen made her realize that science was what she wanted to do. How long ago was that? She takes her hands and rubs the laugh lines etched around her mouth. She prods the folds that hang from her throat. Oh, it was a very long time ago.

She opens the magazine again, and sighs. She stands up, pulls her shoulders up, frowns into the mirror that hangs from the closet door. Tucks her old Bon Jovi T-shirt into her sports bra and runs her fingers over her belly. Runs callused fingertips over the lilac brush strokes that slash across her tummy, painted there by the daughter she carried into the world. Left there by the daughter who now knows at least a dozen words. She pulls her T-shirt back down, and sighs.)

Um, excuse me, I'm sorry, but that sounds like a regular, indoor body. We're only talking about beach bodies here today.

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 D2

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