Why My Body Isn’t Bikini Season Ready & I Don’t Care

tubing_with text
It’s June! Hot, sunny, sweaty, glorious June.  Which means for at least two months now, you’ve been seeing magazine headlines like, 5 Tips To Get Fit This Bikini Season! and Groupon deals for Bikini Boot camps. Many women find these headlines motivational and inspiring; they’re able to leverage them to take on a mission to help them feel and look their best. And then many of us feel shamed: we can never compare and don’t deserve the chance to bask in the glorious sun, beach side or poolside.

In the past decade, there have been so many times when I’ve worn a swimsuit that I can’t remember them all. The birthday party in college. The two summers of swimming at the university pool, where I was more insecure about my weak swimming skills than how I looked. Last summer’s tubing adventure, where I wore a suit in front of the same friend who once told me, “You’re getting too fat. It’s getting embarrassing to be seen with you.” (That comment happened at a party, not tubing.) She can be embarrassed all she wants, but it isn’t going to stop me from having fun on the river.

Just like I have no problems stripping for a masseuse or spreading my legs for my yearly gynecological visit, I have no qualms about wearing a swimsuit in public.  All of these acts have the same intention at heart — providing care for our bodies. What’s shameful in that? Whether working the knots out in tense muscles, ensuring my ovaries and cervix are healthy and happy, or providing my body much needed movement and exercise, it’s about choosing to care for our bodies.

As a plus-size woman (or fat girl, if you want to be blunt), I know I’m supposed to feel shame wearing a swimsuit in public. The simple truth is … I don’t. 

The concept of bikini season – and ensuring your body is ready for it – is just marketing. It’s just emotional manipulation. It’s just a lie to encourage the sales of swimsuits, diet plans, and workout plans. The summer months are notoriously slow for businesses and sales begin to tank. It’s why everyone has clearance sales galore, including high-end stores like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. The desire to sell you tanning lotions, bikinis, and workout sessions are rooted in a desire to continue to make money through those slow months. It’s no more about your body than holiday diets, anti-aging creams, lotions, or serums, hair color sales … it’s all about making you feel insecure so you’ll buy into a product.

Regardless of your body type or size, you should feel safe going out in public in a swimsuit.  You should feel safe going in the water without fear of judgement, because that judgement is in your head.  Most people are so caught up in their own insecurities about their own bodies they won’t notice you and your body. You’re going to be far more harsh about the state of your body than anyone else will be.

In the words of Gabi Fresh:

As always, I truly encourage you guys to get to the beach (or a pool) this summer–don’t let body shame keep you from having a good time! I don’t expect everyone to feel comfortable in a two piece, but hopefully I can inspire some of you to take the plunge. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to just have fun without worrying about what other people think.

For inspiring swimsuit & bikini season reads:

My favorite resources for swimsuits (esp. of the plus-size variety!):

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for Dramatis Personae. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

Already Pretty contributor Ashley began blogging in 2007 at Dramatis Personae, which focuses on life & style. She recently launched Style in Cinema to combine her loves of shopping, fashion, and film/television.  Ashley’s love of fashion began at 10, when she bought her first issue of Seventeen magazine; this also marked the beginning of a life long battle with learning to love her body. As a plus-sized gal, she loves promoting fashion for all women and shops that want to make all ladies feel beautiful.  She currently calls New Orleans home.

Next Post
Previous Post

57 Responses to “Why My Body Isn’t Bikini Season Ready & I Don’t Care”

  1. GingerR

    I have to second the idea that most people are so caught up in themselves that they’ll hardly notice you.

    Depending on your lifestyle it may be advisable to purchase a suit ahead of time. Shops don’t always carry endless sizes and it can take a little trying on to find the one that you like. If you have one that fits you’re likely to seek out opportunities to wear it.

    Find a suit that fits so you can move around without malfunction, and put it on. If a cover-up gets you out the door to the pool or beach then put it on too. Beyond that – have fun!

    • Ashe

      Great additions, Ginger! I especially love the part about ” If a cover-up gets you out the door to the pool or beach then put it on too.” Lord knows I need them to avoid burn!

  2. Jessy

    Yay! How refreshing to read about such a self-accepting, comfortable attitude, good for you.

  3. Rachelle

    You make a very good point most people are to wrapped up on their own insecurities to notice anyone else. Anyway no one should be ashamed of their bodies. You go girl!

  4. Smalls

    Ok, I’m finally delurking after months of reading this website. Girl, that “friend” who said it was embarrassing to be seen with you? Is not your friend! I’m glad you were able to ignore that comment! Your bathing suit is adorable, and you look great in it!

    • Ashe

      Thanks, Smalls! It definitely put a strain on our relationship, that’s for sure…

      And thank you! I love the suit. Sucks me in just a bit, and is oh so easy to wear.

      • Kate K

        I can’t believe your “friend” said that. In what world does your body affect her? Wow. On a more positive note, I LOVE that suit on you. You look happy and healthy and absolutely fabulous. I loved this article and I agree–there is something so freeing about just putting on a suit and enjoying the opportunity. Life is too short to worry about my thighs.

        May I also suggest Lands End for suits? I bought this suit (http://www.landsend.com/pp/womens-tunic-one-piece-slender-suit~4235_593.html) about four years ago and it has been a godsend. It stays put, it’s flattering, and I’ve received tons of compliments. (Initially, it was mind-blowing that I, a size 16 woman, would receive compliments on my swim suit and how I looked in it.) It’s expensive but it’s worth not stressing and it’s held up incredibly well.

        • Ashe

          Kate, that suit is stunning! I love the color and especially the back.

          I’m a big fan of buying the best you can and buying with the intention of having it for as long as possible…so that suit would fit right into my shopping philosophy!

  5. Jasmine

    Some of the links are broken – the first and last ones in the list, and the middle two links go to the same place. :-/

    • Ashe

      Thanks, Jasmine! For one, it seems sometime between writing & posting, the author deleted their post. A shame. Thanks for catching the broken link tags, too!

  6. Sarah

    Love this so much! I haven’t worn a swimsuit in about 8 years, and I live in hot, sweaty, humid Baltimore. In theory I don’t care what people think about my body in a swimsuit but in practice, the whole process from buying a suit to actually stripping down to it at a pool is so emotionally fraught and exhausting just to think about, I would rather not bother. However, I do a ton of hiking (despite being fat!) and I pass so many rivers and streams I would love to just jump into, specially in the summertime! it might be time to make the leap.

    Also, totally none of my business but I would have bitch-slapped the ever-loving heck out of that friend who said you were getting too fat! or at the very least, never spent time with her again. What a rude person!

    • Ashe

      Thank you for sweet words, Sarah!

      To be honest, I did go a few years without wearing one, simply because the opportunity wasn’t there. But once I had one and got my toes wet once… I had to keep going.

      Grab yourself a cute suit, and make that jump during the hikes! I can’t think of anything that sounds more heavenly (and miss hiking so much… we don’t have many places to in New Orleans).

    • Andrea

      I hate swimsuit shopping, but I love being in the water (and I LOVE swimming during a hike). I have two suggestions. 1 – Online shopping. You might have to pay a little for return shipping, but it’s cheaper than gas and a whole lot more fun than driving around. 2 – For summer hiking, I wear a racerback tankini top (with good chest support built in) and a comfy pair of bikini bottoms under my shorts. The top is pretty much identical to my regular hiking tanks, only it dries faster. In truth, though, when I find a good stream, I jump in no matter what I’m wearing!

  7. Sarah

    P.S. Forgot to mention – you look stunning in that suit!!!!

  8. Monica

    First, this reminds me of something a friend posted on Facebook that might make you smile. “How to get a bikini body: put a bikini on your body.”

    This is something I’m really struggling with right now. I am thin by any definition, with heaps of “body privilege,” and I envy your attitude. I wish that I had achieved the state of not feeling shame, but lately I seem to be shaming myself for shaming myself if you know what I mean. “Look, she can do it! What’s YOUR problem?”

    I really appreciate this post and Sally’s generally loving way of addressing these issues. It does help me to turn down that shaming voice in my head and feel some love. So here’s some love back. Way to go Ashe!

    • Ashe

      Monica– though we’ve got different body types, I’m no stranger for shaming myself for shaming myself. We all interact with our bodies different, have different emotional and mental triggers.. and it’s damned hard.

      The only upside is, occasionally when we say, “Look, she can do it! What’s YOUR problem?” to ourselves, it can sometimes help us figure out what triggers those feelings and work to resolve them.

      Here’s some love back at you, and whether it’s a bikini or one piece, keep your chin up high this summer! No one will notice but you. <3

  9. Jen

    My biggest issue with swimwear is the crap boob support. If they have underwires they are often insanely expensive and have measely bra straps. One pieces with underwires are generally too short in the waist and lacking in enough back support to keep you supported.

    After trying on dozens of suits this year I finally found a one piece that mostly worked. It’s still a little saggy but probably only noticeable to me. I found the most beautiful bikini top that also fit well but it didn’t have any matching bottoms that covered enough for my liking.

    After this year’s shopping, I’ve concluded that if you are Canadian, poor and have giant, saggy boobs, you might as well just wear a tee shirt and shorts to swim in and save yourself the stress of all those fruitless shopping trips.

    • Ashe

      Jen, I hear that issue/complaint often from women with larger busts (affordability + support). I’ll keep my eye out for options. I’m pretty sure my City Chic suit has an underwire, but it’s defintiely in the average range of suits (I think it was around $80?).

      FWIW, I can empathize about the torsos– as a girl whose height is in her torso, most suits are too short for me… but I’m not (yet) brave enough for a bikini.

    • Shaye

      Do you sew, or have friends that sew? I am sewing an old bra into this top to get the support I need: http://www.swimsuitsforall.com/Swim-Sexy-Eclipse-Plus-Size-Twist-Front-BandeauHalter-Tankini-Top?p=3942

      Otherwise, I’d watch for end-of-season sales on places that sell tops by cup size. Freya, Panache and Curvy Kate all sell suits that way, for example.

      Lastly, check out the swimwear section at brastop.com! They have clearance swimwear right now up to a K cup. They’re UK based, but shipping to North America is reasonable ($11 CA) and they have some suits/tops right now on sale for as low as $20 CA. Most are bikini tops but if you prefer more coverage they have some tankini tops too.

  10. ClaraT

    You know what ended my bathing suit body image issues? Lap swimming.

    1. All shapes and sizes. Huge boobs, tiny boobs, floppy bits, saggy bits, tight athletes–you quickly see it all. When I first started, I swam in the slow lane with a blind lady and an old guy with just one leg. My point: any issues I had quickly became non-issues. No one cared about me/my swimsuit except in a friendly way. I simply didn’t stand out, and that made me feel comfortable.

    2. One of the reasons we don’t feel comfy in swimsuits (aside from exposure) is that we rarely wear them. The more you wear something, whether bright lipstick, a circle skirt, or Doc Martins, the more we feel fine (or even good!) about it. Lap swim = lots of bathing suit time = feels more comfortable.

    • Ashe

      Clara– you know, you may be on to something! It was lap swimming at the pool that I really got comfortable. As I mentioned I’m more self conscious about the fact I’m not a strong swimmer (or swim well: that summer I learned to go under water without holding my nose), but I LOVE it regardless. But yes– we were there about 3-4 nights a week, and you really do get comfortably quickly at that rate.

  11. Connie

    I applaud your confidence and wish the same for all of us of any size.

  12. Amy

    Yes, I love this! And you look adorable!

    I am usually so excited about being at the beach or getting in the pool that I don’t care who sees me or what they think. I only had one moment last summer where I got self-conscious: it was the 4th of July party at my apartment complex and a lot of people were there (usually, it’s just me and my boyfriend John and maybe some little kids), and I started to put shorts on over my bathing suit bottoms to cover my wobbly inner thighs. John saw me doing this and said, “Amy, your legs are fine. You don’t need to cover them up.”

    I sighed, knew he was right, took the shorts off, went to the pool, and forgot all about my legs as soon as I got into the water.

    Life’s too short to allow what other people think about how you look ruin your fun.

    • Ashe

      Thank you, Amy, and thank you for sharing that story! I feel like we all have moments like that… I’m glad you recognized that it was OK and went about doing what you love. So many women (and hell, even men!) would have just kept the pants on.

      JUST KEEP YOUR PANTS OFF. That should be summer’s motto!

      • Nadine

        That’s my motto 😉

        Ashe you are rocking the swimsuit, but your heart sunglasses? Are giving me life!

        • Ashe

          Hah! You’re so awesome Nadine.

          When I wore them tubing, all of my girlfriends were like, “We told you to pick glasses that you could lose! Why did you wear these?! They’re so cute!” Then I had to explain that they were, sadly, the cheapest shades I owned… and thus the ones to get worn.

          But I didn’t lose them! 😀

  13. Andrea

    Ashe, you are the sixth kick-ass blogger that I’ve seen so far this season blasting the bogus drama of “swimsuit bodies.” Amen, sister! Spread the word. The more women who leave the tabloids on the rack and jump in the water dressed in our perfectly imperfect swimsuit bodies, the happier everyone will be. (Except maybe the people selling this b.s.) See also: the more who stretch our perfectly imperfect yoga bodies, chase kids across the park in our perfectly imperfect running bodies, dance through the whole wedding in our perfectly imperfect celebration bodies, cry with our friends in our perfectly imperfect comforting bodies, and savor meals cooked to nourish our perfectly imperfect selves. It’ll be a good summer.
    Then we can flip off the same ad execs in the fall, when they tell us that we won’t be allowed to enjoy ourselves without new boots or coats or faces or whatever. Pshaw. They lie.

    • Ashe

      “See also: the more who stretch our perfectly imperfect yoga bodies, chase kids across the park in our perfectly imperfect running bodies, dance through the whole wedding in our perfectly imperfect celebration bodies, cry with our friends in our perfectly imperfect comforting bodies, and savor meals cooked to nourish our perfectly imperfect selves. It’ll be a good summer.”

      Andrea… god. That made me tear up. YES YES YES. I love it.

      • Andrea

        Well, considering how many times you’ve made me either tear up or crack up, I guess that’s fair.

  14. A.B.

    Love your choices and you look fab in that swimsuit.

    Thanks for recommending retails I hadn’t previously thought of for suits. Modcloth is a wonderful rabbit hole to fall down into.

    Just so you know, your post led me to realize that Old Navy photographs plus size stuff on mannequins but regular-sized stuff on models. And it does not make me happy.

    • Ashe

      You know A.B… I wonder if that’s why I don’t like shopping the plus section at Old Navy’s site. At an 18/20, I can shop both sections (but find the regular section fits better). But something always bothered me about the plus area, and maybe that’s it. The difference in how items are photographed!

      At least at Modcloth, all sections have a pretty even mix of models and mannequins.

      • A.B.

        ON took their plus sizes out of the stores, so anyone who is solidly in plus sizes have no choice but to shop the website. I’m the same size as you and generally the “regular” size stuff fits me better because “plus size” tends to have too high a rise for me.

  15. Noelle

    Slightly off-topic: Can anyone recommend a good swimsuit source for DD+ cups that isn’t exclusively plus size? As a size 10 who needs serious support, I am finding it really hard to get a swimsuit this summer. The regular-size catalogs don’t have anything that will properly support the girls, and the plus-size sites usually stop at size 14. Lands End seems to have run out of everything my size in mid-May.

    • LydiaG

      Try Bravissimo.com — I have ordered swimsuits online and they fit really well – my best fit is a tankini with underwires in polkadots– I am a 34GGor sometimes 36H — this suit has great support. It is pricey, but often there are sales.

    • Shaye

      I just bought a tankini top from Freya at HerRoom.com – serious support!

    • Rachel

      Although I hate all the images and advertising that goes along with Victoria’s Secret, they do have a great bathing suit sale and you can buy tops based on bra size. I was pretty sad that they do not offer a 3D, but if you wear a 2D or smaller you should be good.

  16. Ann

    That suit looks great on you! I’ll admit, after a lifetime of only wearing 1-piece suits, I just took a plunge earlier this week and ordered a couple of bikinis for my plus-size body. After 11 years of bellydancing, I’m pretty comfortable with my stomach showing– it’s the bare thighs that make me self-conscious, and that’s true whether it’s a bikini or a 1-piece suit! I’m pretty pear-shaped, and I often find that plus-size maillots are cut way too big in the bust for me, while often being too tight in the hips; I didn’t find this to be the case back in the days when I wore a “regular” size (12-16), so I think it’s something about how plus-size suits are proportioned. A 2-piece (whether bikini, tankini, etc.) lets me pick out a different size for the top and the bottom and assemble a suit that actually fits me more accurately, which is awesome.

  17. Kaisa

    You go girl! 🙂
    I think for me the whole bikini season thing is like SO weird. I basically grew up on a beach. For me summer used to mean beach and sunshine, not about how I or anyone else looked. So, I never say no to a possibility to go seaside and dip my toes (and my whole freakin’ body) into the sea. I don’t care how I look or what I wear. Which is in a way odd as in some other situations I can be a tad more body conscious. But not when it comes to sea/sun/swimming.

  18. Tragic Sandwich

    I always say that if me, in a swimsuit, is the worst thing you’ve ever seen–well, then, your life is just too sheltered.

    Last summer we were at the beach with our daughter, and I saw a woman who reminded me of my mother. Not because they were the same age–this woman was probably closer to my age than my mother’s. Not because she, like my mother, was overweight.

    No, she reminded me of my mother because she was so clearly having a wonderful time at the beach. Looking at her, I remembered how much my mother loved the water, and how happy it made her. And seeing that woman enjoy herself made me happy, too.

    Who cares what size she was?

  19. Shaye

    I’ve just found a good suit at swimsuitsforall.com. Many of their styles are dowdy, but they’ve got some cute vintage-inspired ones as well!

    • Ashe

      Yes! I just came across them recently myself, when Gabi did a collection with them… I should definitely update the post to include them. Thank you for the reminder!

  20. No fear of fashion

    Dear Ashe, I loved reading this post. So wonderful that you are confident. And I agree with every word you have written. I am not overweight, but that doesn’t matter. Nearly all women, no matter how gorgeous they are, have “issues” with their body. Yes, they are all much more concerned about themselves than yo notice you on the beach. I think it is not easy being a shop assistent. Hearing women who could be models saying: ” my belly is showing” (what belly?) etc.
    Everybody likes a person who is having fun and who brings joy, warmth and laughter. No matter how they look. Let us be loved for that instead of a perfect body.

  21. Courtney

    Even when you do have a “bikini ready” body that doesn’t mean you are necessarily confident in a bikini. I go to the gym three times a week, walk more than my legs would want, eat healthy and am an average weight and yet I still cringe when I have to put on a bikini. I’m not saying this to try to make anyone feel any better or any worse about themselves, but just to add that no matter what your body type, marketing and advertising still takes a toll.

  22. Sarah

    This is such a wonderfully well-written and heartfelt post. I’ve been struggling with how my body has been looking and feeling recently (more a product of an unhealthy lifestyle as opposed to actual physical changes), and I spent weeks looking for the perfect swimsuit that would hide as much as possible and magically change my body shape for a pool party this Friday.

    I finally realized that what I needed was an attitude adjustment, not a certain swimsuit. I just stopped into Old Navy yesterday (good recommendation!) and picked out a hot-pink number that feels like me. It was fun putting it on, not because I suddenly looked like a supermodel, but because I remembered how much fun I used to have being at the beach and thinking of nothing but plunging into the waves as soon as possible.

    I know I still might feel a little funny walking around with my bare belly, but I’m striving for your confidence and peace. It’s inspiring 🙂

    🙂 Sarah

    • Ashe

      Thank you, Sarah! This comment meant so much to read. I love that you found a swimsuit that reminded me of the better parts of the summer and surf and could help you forget (even if temporarily) he insecurity of being in a swimsuit.

      I hope your pool party was a blast & you felt great!