By Curvy Curvette
Bikinis are without a doubt the most daunting item of clothing you’ll ever try to wear. If you happen to be plus-sized, wearing one is more than just a style challenge, it’s terrifying. The last time I wore a bikini I was 16, it was a pink and white palm-tree print purchased in a brief moment of willful teenage delusion. I was not skinny. I have never been skinny, and as such, bikinis were always off-limits. I knew what the girls who wore bikinis looked like: tall, tanned, thin and nothing like me.
Nevertheless, I headed to my local bathing boutique and purchased the first one that fit. By the time I got home, the fleeting body confidence that had led me to spend an entire week’s spending money on two tiny strips of fabric had evaporated. I put it in a drawer where it stayed for a few years, until I packed it away for a clothing drive during my last move. Sure, I tried it on a few times. Once in a while I may have though it didn’t look half bad. Somehow, that never translated into actually putting it on and wearing it outside, never mind poolside.
The main reason I’ve never worn a bikini is that I’ve always been self-conscious of my stomach. It’s not the kind of stomach you’ll see in fitness magazines. It’s not even the kind of stomach you’ll see in “real women have curves” ads. Soft and pale, with echoes of stretch marks, it’s more likely to make you think of a fish belly than a washboard. Recently I’ve made my peace with it, in an effort to embrace body positivity. But there’s a long way to go from self-acceptance to exhibitionism.
So what inspired me to bare my belly the past weekend in a pool full of tanned, taut-bodied strangers in Las Vegas? Surprisingly it wasn’t the readily available oversized margaritas. And no, it wasn’t weight loss either, as I’m on the heavier side of my comfortable range. It was the fact that after a year of reading and following the body positive movement, something had finally sunk in.
It is one thing to say “all bodies are bikini bodies” and another thing to actually believe it, poolside, in front of a crowd of strangers. But while fat-bias is still a force to be reckoned with, chances are you won’t be shunned if you do dare to strip down. I’m proud to report that no one screamed, no one threw things and to my knowledge no one was injured in the process. I’ll tentatively call that a success.
It’s not easy to take the first step, but there are five things I did to prepare myself to take that one small step into the world of two-piece wearers.
5 things to prepare you to bravely face the prospect of appearing in a bikini in public.
1) Pick a style you really, really, really love. I’m a fan of classic black, so a cute two-piece with colourful detailing worked for me but you may want to try a print or bold colour. Whatever it is, make sure you love every inch of it.
2) Be finicky with your fit. A great-fitting bikini is more elusive than a perfect pair of jeans, but is well worth the time and effort. Wearing a bikini is stressful enough without worrying whether it will ride up, fall down or come undone. Take your time and try on as many styles as you can.
3) Get your glow on first. If you’re going to be baring more skin than you have in a long time, it might be worthwhile to prep before your big debut. I’m a big fan of sunless tanners—see above re: fish belly—but a good exfoliation and moisturizer can do wonders for anybody.
4) Bring back up. I didn’t bare all, all by myself. Instead I surrounded myself with a group of my closest girlfriends there for support (and a spare one-piece in case I chickened out). Just make sure you bring someone or something that will give you a boost, not bring you down.
5) If all else fails: jump in! The best thing about wearing a bikini wasn’t strutting my stuff in front of strangers, but the freedom of cold water against a stomach that had been hidden for more than ten years.
Author’s note: The girl in the photo is not me, but a professional Penningtons model named Anita. While I may be comfortable wearing a bikini in public, posing in one on the internet is a different matter alltogether!