I’m A Fan of the #Fatkini

Last summer, I went out and did something I never thought I’d do.

I went out and bought a bikini.

When I was little, summertime was one of my favorite times of the year. It meant playing outdoors, no school, and swimming in our awesome blow-up pool that Dad would set up for us. Swimming meant swimwear, obviously, and I never thought twice about what I wore. Then, I got to a certain age. And I started caring.

When I got to about fourth grade, I realized that not everyone was encouraged to wear a bikini. It was really only the girls that could “pull it off:” the girls with the bodies for it. So I covered up. I traded bikinis for tankinis and swim shorts, and said goodbye to the summer wardrobe staple I’d worn for years without a second thought.

It wasn’t until this last summer that I reconsidered my idea of a “bikini body,” after seeing my similarly-sized sister take the plunge and buy a bikini top.

To others, bikini tops might be considered immodest, a protest against the patriarchy (a la 1950’s), or the wear of models. To me, however, the bikini has always felt like freedom, and other swimwear a scarlet letter, letting everyone know I’m not in “good enough shape” to wear a bikini. I always felt like my physical attractiveness/fitness was in part measured by my ability to fit into two tiny pieces of fabric and look absolutely flawless doing it. Needless to say, I was falling short.

The “#Fatkini” movement affirms what I’d already decided last summer, after being fed up with hiding myself: There’s no such thing as a bikini body. If you aren’t acquainted, #Fatkini has accompanied thousands of pictures of curvy women wearing bikinis, women that wouldn’t typically wear one due to their size. The movement is about eliminating the idea of a “bikini body” and about empowering women of all sizes to embrace their bodies.

Beach anyone? #oceancity #me #fatkini #shebecuttingallthewayout

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Critics of the movement complain that #Fatkini is going to encourage women that are overweight and unhealthy to stop trying to be healthy, but I think their argument is vacuous.

Not all curvy bodies are unhealthy. There are plenty of women who eat well, exercise regularly, and still aren’t “thin” by general societal standards. Also, self-love is the first step to self-improvement. Allowing curvy women to believe they are gorgeous the way they are allows them to divorce beauty from fitness and pursue a healthy lifestyle while believing they are worth the final result.

The #Fatkini movement is a positive step toward shattering the illusion that “beautiful” is defined by waist size or weight. And I’m a fan.

I thought I’d feel self-conscious wearing a bikini top, but I actually feel the opposite. I find myself feeling better about embracing my body for what it is (awesome shark-attack-esque scar and all) than feeling like it has to be hidden. At the end of the day, my opinion is the only one that matters. And I think I look pretty great.

How do you feel about bikinis? The #Fatkini movement?

Xoxo, Taylor

The Thigh Gap

If this title doesn’t make any sense to you, congratulations. Seriously. You haven’t been exposed to what I think is one of the most upsetting trends in body image today: the thigh gap. The thigh gap, you guessed it, is the space between a girl’s thighs when she stands normally. Young girls are now holding this up as a standard of beauty, something to be achieved.

Here’s the problem: besides being another marker of a dangerous shift toward hyper-thinness, the thigh gap is something some women are not meant to achieve. Ever.

This post by Jen Rinker goes into more detail, but basically, women’s bodies are designed different ways. Some women are designed in such a way that they carry more weight in their hips, which means no matter how much weight they lose, they probably won’t ever achieve the “thigh gap.” Other women just have narrow hips, and so being thin won’t even create enough space for there to be a thigh gap. Which means that young girls who are trying to gain a thigh gap might be working toward an unattainable standard of beauty.

The issue of the thigh gap speaks to the bigger issue of beauty standards that are absolute, not relative to body type. Being 120 lbs, for example, is something that some women might naturally achieve. It might just be how they’re built. For others, it might be unhealthy to be that small or even impossible to achieve given the body type of the woman. Beauty standards that suggest that women are “one size, fits all” need to be ignored.

I am a curvy woman. I will never be 100 pounds. I will never be a size zero. I’ll never, ever have a thigh gap. But that says nothing about what kind of shape I’m in or how I look when I stand in the mirror. I don’t mean to beat the “positive self-image” horse to death, but bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Assigning a number or a measurement (like the thigh gap) to beauty is illogical, and if I were to try to paint myself by the numbers, I’d always fall short.

Do you remember junior high PE? I do because I hated it, but that’s another story. Assigning these numbers to beauty is like telling everyone in the junior high PE program that they have to run a mile in 6 minutes. Could athletes do it? Maybe. Is that the mark of a good athlete? It certainly would indicate that someone were a good athlete if they could do it. But if they couldn’t? Perhaps some are better long-distance runners. Perhaps some (like me!) have short legs and will never be able to run that fast. Perhaps some students’ fastest mile time will only ever be 10 minutes. But does that mean these students are out of shape? Absolutely not. In the same way, the thigh gap is nowhere near an accurate measurement of health or of beauty.

Furthermore, these young girls who are playing into trends like the thigh gap are often at the age where looking attractive to guys becomes important. But what guy (who wasn’t a complete chauvinist) ever comments on a woman’s “thigh gap?” Yeah, I’ve never heard of one.

photo

via Pinterest

So at the end of the day, the thigh gap, like many other beauty “ideals,” is something to be concerned about and wary of. Having a gap between your thighs when you stand says nothing about your health, your beauty, or your weight. Achieving a beauty standard is less important than looking like the best “you” possible. As for me, I’ll be getting back to the gym this semester. But the only measurement of my success will be the gap between my fitness level now and where I hope to be.

Life’s Too Short to be Miss Photogenic

When I was compiling photos of myself for Fashion Tips from Tiny Taylor, I saw hundreds of pictures of me smiling wide, a total ham for the camera. Sometimes, I was in my Sunday best, but most times, I was a mess. My hair was all over, I had something on my face, and I was probably wearing clothes that didn’t match. I didn’t care. I was happy and I thought I was awesome and I loved getting my picture taken.

Today, I’m not that way at all. My sister always makes fun of me for the rigorous battery of rhetorical questions directed at my potential Facebook profile pictures. “Does this make me look weird? Is my makeup okay? I’m making a weird face here, right? Oh my gosh, this so gives me a muffin top. Does the lighting make me look washed out?” Sound familiar to anyone else?

It seems like we get to an age where photos stop being about capturing candid moments of life and start becoming all about capturing our best selves. We become self-conscious, and especially for women, photos become some sort of horrible freeze-frame mirror where we can spend hours picking out our flaws.

When I think back to some of my favorite and most photo-worthy adventures in life, I realize they are also the times I was probably far from “photogenic.” My best friend and I went to Costa Rica in high school, and the humidity about killed us. We were sticky, gross, and had the craziest hair. We took photos anyway, and when I got back, I remember looking over the photos and being upset about it. Ugh. Why couldn’t I have looked cuter? I thought. I WAS IN COSTA RICA. I got to zipline and hike through crazy rainforests and do a million other things. And I’d rather not have the photos to remember it than remember it with a messy me in the middle of it all? Really?

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One of my pics from Costa Rica. I don’t know what was happening here. But it’s a memory.

Let’s be honest, life happens. We might be making a weird face in our 21st birthday photo. We might not be having a good hair day during the New Years Party photos. But should that stop us from taking photos of the moments that make our life vibrant and memorable and sharing them? No. It should not.

Borrowing a line from Teresa Porter’s awesome article “So You’re Feeling Too Fat to be Photographed…“, NO ONE IS LOOKING AT HOW FAT YOU LOOK. Or how bad your skin is. Or if your hair is out of place. Your best friends are looking at that photo of New Years and remembering how much fun you were when you had too much champagne and started singing to the waiter. Your mom is looking at your family photos and questioning why she let your dad wear a Hawaiian shirt. You should be looking at your photos and remembering the moments they capture, not how you looked.

Hand-choosing only the photos that you look the best in or refusing to take photos at all isn’t improving your self-image. It’s simply allowing yourself to be absent from history. When your future spouse, your future kids, your friends look back on the time they’ve known you, you’ll be strangely absent from all of those photos of smiling faces and priceless memories.

Life is happening… it is happening right now and the only moment we are guaranteed is the one we are living. I shudder at the thought of leaving behind no pictures of my life with ME in it. – Teresa Porter

This is one of my now favorite photos of my senior prom:

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My boyfriend’s least favorite food in the whole world is lasagna. So to be silly and play a prank, I told him I’d personally made him dinner…frozen lasagna. And this is his reaction, and me cracking myself up.

It was a funny moment, but I’d say I look far from what I’d consider my best. If I’d chosen to delete this photo because my face was a little shiny or I had a weird expression, I’d have missed recording this candid moment.

And so the point stands: life is too short for you to be absent from all records of it! Whether you’re 5 or 50 pounds heavier than you’d like to be, or your face is a mess, there’s no time like the present, and no better way to be part of it than to spend your time living instead of primping.