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Highest body confidence among baby boomers as sales of string bikinis soar

By Jackie Mallon



Image: Walmart

New data shows that women who have made more trips around the sun are the ones likely to bare more skin in the sun. Baby boomers are busting out their bodies on the beaches like no other group according to Clearpay. The online Buy Now, Pay Later payment service found that women born between 1944 and 1964 are purchasing string bikinis at a higher rate than any other generation, surpassing Gen Z with a 245 percent increase in sales year-on-year. For comparison, Gen X and Millennials have been responsible for increases in purchasing of the barely-there bikini of 140 and 110 percent respectively.

A bold but encouraging swimwear trend that suggests older women no longer feel the need to cover up on the beach in one-pieces and modesty-protecting sarongs but are in fact embracing a level of body confidence more often seen in the media among Kendall Jenner’s cohort. Incidentally the Gen Z demographic only contributed to a 21 percent growth in stringkini sales year-on-year.

In May, 81-year-old Martha Stewart broke the internet when she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue in a plunging white swimsuit, making her the magazine’s oldest ever cover girl.  Dubbed “the Martha Effect” a 17 percent increase in sales year-on-year of one-piece swimming costumes was recorded by Clearpay, and baby boomers again represented the biggest slice of the market.

Is there an official age when women stop caring what people think?

Stewart wrote on Instagram: “I hope this cover inspires you to challenge yourself to try new things, no matter what stage of life you are in. Changing, evolving, and being fearless – those are all very good things, indeed.”

Boomers took those words to heart. According to Clearpay’s in-house Fashion Psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell, “Qualitative studies have found that baby boomers reported experiencing radical acceptance regarding their body image as they aged, with some research indicating that 46 is the age we officially stop caring about what others think."

In a real flipping of the narrative, baby boomers are now boomer babes as Clearpay’s data suggests that older women are feeling beautiful enough in their skin to dial up the beachwear glam. Among the other swimwear styles that are being snapped up is the cut out style of swimsuit which has seen a 65 percent increase among baby boomers compared to a 6 percent increase among Gen Z women, 34 percent increase among Millennials, and a 50 percent increase among Gen X customers. Even the controversial return of the Y2K low waist has made its way into swimwear and while an increase among Gen Z shoppers of 244 percent is somewhat expected for this trend, the 188 percent increase among baby boomers is more surprising, that number beating out both Millennials and Gen X.

Stewart’s historic cover is not the only beacon of light for women of upper middle age who are no longer here for the body shaming and ageism associated with the not-too-distant past. The mainstream media might still be somewhat conflicted by this turn of events as the objectification of youthful bodies remains the default position, along with an archaic put-it-away-grandma attitude towards women who have the audacity to look sexy after menopause. But social media has become the playground for boomers living their best Baywatch lives, led by the likes of 69-year-old Christie Brinkley, 65-year-old Sharon Stone, 58-year-old Paulina Porizkova, and 56-year-old Salma Hayek. It's been a long time coming but boomers in stringkinis will be surfing the waves of body positivity for as long as the sun shines.

Body Positivity
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