Twin sisters Plum and Lucy Sykes are similar in many ways–they are both writers, fashion tastemakers, and each held the label of "It Girl,"–but, when bikini season comes around, their differences start to show. Here, they write about envying each other's body and how they learned to feel empowered in their own skin.
My darling twin sister Lucy – a.k.a. the blonde bombshell – was the Marilyn Monroe of our school, even at age 11. From the word go, Lucy was the curviest teenager you can possibly imagine. She had the most amazing bust, a tiny little waist like a 50’s pin-up movie star, the most beautiful long legs and eyes the color of the ocean. As a result, she had boyfriends coming out of her ears. Seriously. They were hiding under her bed, stuffed in her closet, or sneaked off into the bathroom when mom was around. They were everywhere – as was Lucy. Lucy and her boobs were invited to every party, every disco, every roller rink – and the tradition has continued through her life. Lucy is never without an invitation to a fabulous event.
Swimsuit wise, this all had an impact on me. There I was, almost completely flat chested, with lanky arms and legs, wearing bathing suits that looked fairly sporty and plain. The most glamorous one I had was bright neon pink with a blue bow at the bust. I would usually go for modestly cut swimsuits – after all, I had nothing to show off. Looking back, I can imagine that if I was to see the teenage me on the beach now, I’d think what a wonderful figure that young girl had. But, when you’re that skinny teen, that kind of figure doesn’t feel quite as wonderful.
Nowadays, I still stick to the modest swimsuits. If you are flat chested, you need lots of coverage up top to hide the fact that you don’t have much bust. So I like a neckline that is pretty high, and I can take bows or frills or ruffles on that neckline as there is so little going on bust-wise! My favorite places for swimwear are ERES, for the really chic French minimalist look, Princesse Tam Tam for a slightly less expensive take on Riviera chic, and Lisa Marie Fernandez for a really sharp, well-cut line that flatters every single part of the body.
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Plum has one of those teenage French girl bodies.
The one when she walks down the beach every head turns – and, of course, because she is English, not French, she doesn't notice, ever.
It started when we were 14 on holiday in Italy with our family. I remember going swimsuit shopping, and after everything she put on, the owners along with my mother, oohed and ahhed. She had the model look down pat.
Was I jealous? Err, yes. Being a voluptuous 13-year-old with white blonde bleached hair, how did I cope? I played to my own strengths: After all, the Italians love a blonde with blues eyes. So, I wore a very Marilyn strapless tomato red swimsuit and that seemed to do the trick.
No one ever mentioned the difference between us physically during that holiday, not my parents, not the gangs of boys on the beach. As much as I loved and adored my sister's straight-up-and-down model bod and admired how she could wear anything – truly, she was runway goddess – I felt empowered in my skin.
Now years after, I really do envy the same French teenage model body, but I am proud to hang with her on the beach now. I am fit and stronger than I ever have been. Yes, I have a mini muffin top and my boobs are a 34DD, but that's me and I will never be her. But, god, it's fun to have her secretly inspiring me to stay on top of myself physically – and that, my friend, is a really good thing.