I posted this picture on my Facebook page today because I wanted to help people move past the myth that there is only one kind of body that looks good in a bikini. This weekend, I was on a date at a patio bar. In the middle of it, this man came and sat down with us while he smoked. He started talking about a nude beach he’d been to and about his belief that only certain people should be allowed to be naked in public. He complained that seeing people on the beach who’s bodies were aging, larger or “not beautiful”, was annoying to have to deal with.
The attitude that this man has is damaging, and unfortunately not uncommon. The belief that only thin, tanned, hairless, young, toned bodies (ie. a “bikini body”) are worthy of wearing bikinis, bathing suits, shorts, skirts, tank tops etc. makes the summer time very hard for people who don’t have that particular body type. People who have “bad” bodies (according to this definition) have to deal with staring, rude comments, unsolicited advice on how to lose weight, and even harassment and assault. People who are larger have just as much of a right to be comfortable during hot weather as thin people do.
Last year, during a lesson on genetic predisposition to things like addiction, my professor told us a story about a day she had at the beach to explain predisposition to obesity. She told us about a larger woman she saw on the beach and how she was wearing the a very small bikini. The words she used to describe this woman and her friend were not kind. She described them as having “badly shaped bodies” and being much heavier than they ‘should’ have been. Their presence on the beach while wearing beach ware promoted obesity, and in her opinion they were setting an unhealthy example for the rest of the beach goers, most of all my professor’s 4 year-old daughter that she brought to the beach that day. This ignorant rant and HORRIBLE explanation of predisposition to obesity left me shocked and feeling livid. I wasn’t hurt by her words because I understood that she didn’t know what it feels like to be a large person who isn’t able to be waif thin.* She didn’t realize the kind of judgement and hurt she was inflicting on her students. I went home and wrote her an e-mail (I’ll post that next week) expressing how upset I was by her carelessness.
My point here, is that as a fat girl** I have to deal with these kinds of comments all the time. People think that they can shame fat people in to losing weight, which isn’t mean at all in their eyes, they’re just helping those people become “healthy”. I’m very confident in my body, but I haven’t always been this way. If I’d had a teacher say something like that to me when I was younger, I would have been devastated. This pressure to be thin is present all year long, but even more so during the summer when it’s hot. Appropriate clothing tends to be more revealing, putting all people who don’t have the perfect “bikini body” on display. We all have days where we don’t like things about ourselves, even me. What’s important to remember is that ALL BODIES ARE GOOD BODIES!!! Your body is beautiful even if your body is fat. Even if you have cellulite. Even if you have freckles or scars. Even if your thighs rub when you walk. Even if your boobs are small. Even if your butt is big. Your body is worthy of a bikini because it’s yours.
OWN your body. My wish for this summer is that you all reclaim your bodies. Take some time to pick your body apart. Write a list of AT LEAST 10 things you really like about your body, then I want you to pull out that teeny tiny bikini, those super cute shorts, or that tank top you’ve got stuffed at the back of your dresser that you never wear because you’re not “thin or tanned or toned enough”. Wear it, feel confident and love you for who you are: You
* When people have a predisposition to obesity, it means that they are more likely to be obese and/or have a harder time losing weight. I’m not saying that if a person has a predisposition that they should just give up and blame their unhealthy eating habits etc. on genetics and simply believe that it’s impossible for them to reach their own health and fitness goals.
**When I use the word fat, I use it as an adjective, not an insult or a degrading word. Although plus size, curvy, larger etc. work as positive descriptive words, I like to use fat because it’s to the point and not inherently negative. A fat body is a fat body, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when context is added. The difference is simple: “I have wide hips, big legs, a big butt and big boobs. I’m fat”. VS. “UGH I’m SO fat! I’ll never look good in these jeans!” The first sentence is simply factual, it describes someone’s body while the second statement adds judgement and self-depreciation. The overall tone behind the second sentence connects the describer “fat” with negativity.