I ordered a bikini for our vacation. An itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polka dot bikini. Okay, maybe not so much yellow…or teenie…or any of those other things, but it is a bikini.
Society tells women, especially those of us who are plus size, that bikinis weren’t made for us. Initially I fell victim to that belief. As I opened the package on my not-so-teenie bikini and pulled out the cute vintage-style suit, for which I had been waiting nearly a week, I looked at the bottoms and got depressed. They looked big. Not big as in they wouldn’t fit, but big because it takes a lot of material to cover this voluptuous behind. It depressed me they have to be that big now when, before Vivienne, I could wear the itsy bitsy bikinis found in any store. Ironically, I thought I was fat before when I could buy swimsuits in any store. (I am beginning to realize now how much enjoyment was wasted when I wasn’t fully appreciating or accepting my body.)
Anyway, I began to examine why this particular swimsuit depressed me. I settled on the notion it is because I am plus size and I shouldn’t wear such a thing. Heaven forbid a bigger woman wear something she wants because it might make the remainder of society uncomfortable! The thoughts flooded my head: people might whisper, point, or even tell me to cover up. I know what society says. Society says a size 16 woman shouldn’t wear a bikini. I don’t need society to tell me that because all the diet industry products claim it and regular stores don’t typically carry a bikini in my size. That does not mean that I don’t deserve to wear what I want just as much as the person whose size they do carry. However, before going vacation I determined I was going to wear a bikini. I ordered my bikini from a company aimed at helping women feel good in whatever style swimsuit they want to wear (swimsuitsforall.com). I realize society claims no one wants to see what a plus size woman looks like “without clothes.” Well, then, society, avert your eyes because I am going to wear this bikini. (The eating disordered part of my brain agrees with society but I am going to challenge that part of my brain right now.)
Honestly, why is being plus size bad? My vitals are in the normal, healthy range. I am active and enjoy being active, it isn’t that I sit around like a bump on a log. I follow a meal plan prescribed by a licensed dietician and while I sometimes stray from that plan, overall I am healthy. I believe the negativity toward being plus size is only a result from the media and diet industry telling us it is bad. The diet industry, with the help of clothing companies, have deemed anyone above a size 12 to be plus size. Who came up with that anyway? So are women who are a size 0 neutral size, or those able to wear children’s size clothing negative size? No, the only label placed on women is the negative one of “plus size.” Well, you know what, in this moment I am proudly plus size.
We hear on a daily basis right now we need to get our “bikini bodies” ready for the summer sun. What does that even mean? Is my body not ready for a bikini right now? The media and diet industry would tell me no because I haven’t used a special product or put myself through a bikini body boot camp. Well, I have a message for the media: no thanks. I refuse to buy into the idea that I can only wear a bikini if I exercise and starve myself to do it.
I’m sorry I like ice cream. I like being able to choose what I want to eat without feeling guilty (this is a work in progress). For the first time in my adult life I am learning to enjoy food. I have learned there are no “good” or “bad” foods and I can try everything because everything fits into my meal plan somewhere. I’ll be darned if I let commercials about needing to get my “bikini body” ready make me feel otherwise.
So, to quote a body acceptance advocate I adore,
“How do you get a bikini body? You put a bikini on your body.”
(Thanks, Taryn Brumfitt, I think I’ll do just that.)
With Body Love,