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.
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?