It’s lovely. The print is wicked cool. The quality is solid. But, I won’t be wearing it. In saying this, I run the risk of being tarred and feathered by the (plus-size) community I’ve been intimately connected to for years. As if my personal choice is fuel for fat-shamers everywhere. But I’ll say it anyway. This summer, in the year of our lord 2015, I, Sarah Sapora, will not be wearing a bikini.
It’s not as if I don’t support my plus-size sisters in their choices to be bikini-proud. Not in the least. Go on, girl, do your thing! But for me? I’m cool. Here’s why…
Ten years ago, if a woman of size wanted to wear a two-piece bathing suit, she’d be sporting a tankini. Lots of coverage, and readily accessible with major retailers. Anything more “daring” and she’d be relegated to the few websites online that catered to the “BBW-proud” crowd. But last year, Gabi Greg smashed through the one-piece bathing suit ceiling when she debuted a collection for Swimsuits for All that featured boldly-printed bikinis. Or, as Greg dubbed them, Fatkini’s. The collection sold out in hours; the plus-size bikini-floodgates were opened. This summer, size 14+ bikinis are everywhere. It’s almost hard to find a cool one-piece anywhere! And it’s not just high-waisted suits, but ones with bottoms that dip low to reveal the soft stomach curves so many women were anxious to hide in the past.
The internet is overflowing with plus-size women showing off their bikinis. Plus media outlets like Skorch and Plus Model Magazine led the way. Then mainstream sites like Buzzfeed, Bustle, Refinery 29 and even Huffington Post joined the body-positive celebration by sharing features showcasing bikini-proud women of all shapes and sizes. Search Instagram with a number of hashtags and the pics will pour through your feed. Smiling women of size (finally) standing in the sun with the rest of the world!
After decades marked by shopping stuffed into store basements next to the luggage, plus size women are finally starting to demand more from retailers. We are stepping out from the swim dress and aqua-skirt shadows and casting off the blouson tops and ruffles and owning our bodies as never before.
Which is how it should be. With fat-shamers and traditionalists telling plus-size women to cover up for so many years, it’s understandable that donning a bikini has become somewhat of a battle cry for body positive feminists. You no longer need to trick the world with Suites Made of Miracles and shirred stomach with colossal Spandex tummy panels.
Ladies, cover up and tunic no more! We demand to be seen and acknowledged, and here we are in our bikinis to show the world how proud we are and how much we love ourselves!
I 100% agree. Plus-size women have been previously ignored, shamed and pushed aside by the fashion industry. (For crying out loud, when I was a kid there was a store called The Forgotten Women. Can’t make this sh*t up, folks.) We should be able to wear whatever we want and be able to buy the exact same styles that our more slender friends can.
But just because it’s available, do I have to buy it? It’s not that I’m ashamed. It’s not that I’m conservative. I just don’t want to wear a damn bikini.
During a clandestine conversation I had with an unnamed blogger (a sharp gal with a killer personality and a day job) we confessed we both felt pressure to wear a bikini. “I don’t even like them,” she admitted “but when you blog, people expect you to wear one. If you don’t, then they don’t take you seriously.”
So. In order to be taken seriously as a blogger, I have to… wear a bikini?
Here’s the thing. I’m over 35. At this point in my life, I don’t have to make ANY statements about who I am and what I stand for. I simply let my actions speak for themselves. I don’t need prove anything to anyone. Bikini or not, I am still one badass chick.
And so I’ll confess something pretty incendiary. I don’t love showing tons of skin.
“But, Sarah, you’re (gasp) body positive! How come?”
When did being body positive require me to show my skin to the world? I LOVE me. And I DO show it proudly in the ways that work for me. (*cough* like this or this!) And yes, my body isn’t as fit as I’d like it to be for my own personal journey. But I accept every Work-In-Progress piece of me that is far from perfect but worthy of love just the same. But loving me as a whole doesn’t have to equal loving to display all my bits and pieces. Loving myself means I have the power to do with my body as I want; to select what parts of me I want to reveal. Being body positive means that I’m at peace with my body, regardless if I want to make changes to it or not; it isn’t a prescription for how I must present it to the world.
And so I bought a bikini. Without intending to wear it, I purchased one anyway …. And then I put it a drawer.
You bet your ass I want my shopping dollars to be heard by major retailers. I want more and more and more companies to offer fashion freedom to women of every size, shape and color. I bought the bikini, I tried it on, and I put it away. Because I love myself. And, in my world, that means my right to wear it, or let it live tucked away peacefully in the back of my dresser drawer. Bikini or not, I’m cool with me.