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

A post shared by 🌟⭐🌟⭐ (@voluminosity) on

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

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Starbucks, Springtime, and Real Happiness

This has been an amazing week for the following reasons:

  1. I attended a roundtable lunch with the VP of Global Coffee Category Brand Management for Starbucks, Kim Spalding, and got to learn all about Starbucks’ marketing strategy. My favorite coffee brand + brand management + lunch = perfection. It was also amazing to get to speak with someone who is an accomplished career woman and has a family. It inspires me and shows that you can do both. (If you want to know how much I love Starbucks, see here.)
  2. I won $120 worth of Calvin Klein fragrance from a Macy’s info session on campus. I love free things. And now I’m in love with their new fragrance, Endless Euphoria (I talk about it here.)
  3. Being Freshly Pressed by WordPress drew an insane amount of traffic here. I’ve been inundated with views and comments from you lovely readers. And some of you stuck around and decided to follow me on WordPress. I appreciate each and every one of you, and I feel the love!
  4. Springtime is finally here in Philadelphia (sort of). It’s been on and off but at least today I’m seeing sunshine, and two days ago I could go out without a jacket, although yesterday it rained again. Boo. But at least some days are warm. Springtime always puts me in a better mood!

In addition to these, I realized something this week.

I’m really, really happy.

This academic year started out a little rocky for me. For those of you that recently started following me, fall semester was hard. I had to face some long-standing issues with anxiety, and that caused me to do a lot of self-reflection about who I was, who I wanted to be, and how I was seeing myself. I wouldn’t have said before the fall that I was an unhappy person. In fact, I’ve always been known to be pretty upbeat and optimistic.

But after six months of what I would call personal growth, I think I’m happier than I ever have been. I’ve already spoken about about how having learned to manage my anxiety has helped me find happiness. But I realized yesterday, as I walked down the street and saw myself in the reflection of a store window, that I’ve also learned to love myself more than I ever had before.

The issue of appearance and weight has always been a difficult one (it was the subject of my first ever post). I’ve always been happy with myself on the whole, but at the same time, I’ve always subconsciously felt like I was a work in progress. I always felt like “getting fit” and losing weight was a prerequisite with being completely happy with myself. I think I believed that it was wrong to be happy with the way I was because I was “unhealthy.”

Well, that is BS.

I am not obese or in any medical danger. Would I be healthier if I went to the gym every day? Yes. Do I plan to do that? Eventually. But that does not mean I can’t be happy with myself right now. My appearance has not changed substantially this past year, but what’s inside has. I just feel better about being me and about the way I look. People come in all shapes and sizes and my shape is not “bad” or “wrong” but different. Not everyone is made for low-rise jeans and bikinis, and that is okay. Not only am I okay with this, I feel great about the way I look now. I look good! Go me!

I am so excited for the future, and I’m not letting self-doubt stop me from going after what I want in life and being really, truly happy, because happiness isn’t measured in inches, pounds, or dress sizes.

What made you happy this week? I’d love it if you shared.

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.