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Bikinis, finally. | Manolo for the Big Girl

Bikinis, finally.

For most people in the northern hemisphere swimsuit season is officially over. Sure, people still go swimming, but September marks the beginning of a six month reprieve of magazines/television/Jennifer Hudson (seriously, I know she can sing but has she done anything other than be famous for not being fat since she won that Oscar?) attempting to shame us into the swimwear their advertisers are pushing this season.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about bikinis.

I’m not interested in wearing them. Even if the look suited my body, which it doesn’t, a bikini would never suit my personality.  Still, shouldn’t plus size women be allowed to wear a bikini?

Well, okay, they are allowed to, but why is it always such a big honkin’ deal?

More importantly, why, when I google for “fat girl bikini” is the first result a collection of candids of plus-size women in two piece suits with the caption “The beaches of California have the hottest chicks…This is New Jersey.” and the comments are mostly just lists of which girls the random internet commenter find worthy to be a temporary repository for their almighty wang?

ugh.

On a more positive note, I liked what Gabi Fresh had to say in her article on the “fatkini” for xoJane, which featured a gallery of women, some at least semi-professionally shot, some with the obligatory cell phone selfie in the filthy mirror (now with value-add random boxes of junk).

The woman in this photo, Chastity Garner, for example, is killing it:

but some of the others…I’m not sure the bikini was their best choice.

Not that anyone has a duty to make their best fashion choices. I am very well aware that there’s no law (yet) declaring it every other living person’s responsibility to dress for my approval and a size 28 has every bit as much right as a size 8 or 18 to swimwear separates.

Of course, maybe it’s just because I don’t really care for most plus-size bikinis since they’ve got those ridiculous high waists that hide your stomach with all the efficacy of a spider “hiding” on a bare wall.

Still, I’d rather be slightly put off by a woman wearing an outfit that does her no favors –especially if it’s an outfit that woman loves– than see everyone over a size 10 in an endless parade of flattering but soulless black swimdresses or tankinis (close friends know I have a long-held and totally irrational hate-on for tankinis. Do not try to fight me on this one. You will never win.)

Oh, funny bikini-related story:

Once upon a time I was the assistant director for a play starring mostly folks of a certain age. One particular dashing gentleman, who is the living embodiment of Pepe the King Prawn (but dashing!), was having one hell of a time getting his lines. No one knew if it was stage fright, a language barrier, lack of preparation or what. We just couldn’t get him to commit to the role. Finally as we chatted about the final scene this kindly old gentleman finally got it, said his lines with great panache, dropped trou revealing an extremely abbreviated pair of gray bikini underwear well past the first blush of youth, and waddled off stage triumphantly. We should all be as confident as that particular depanted prawn.

So, what about you? Would you/did you/should you wear a bikini as a big girl? What are your reactions to the fatkini gallery?

18 Responses to “Bikinis, finally.”

  1. Brigitte September 26, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    I think the girl in your picture is Chastity Garner from garnerstyle.blogspot.com

    I don’t think I’d wear a bikini. As an apple-shaped girl, having the flabbiest part of my body exposed would just make me look very out of proportions. When it comes to swimwear, the thing I find hardest is finding a suit in the right size. So often they are “just for show” and not meant to put up much support for the girls if I wanted to swim perhaps or *gasp!* play volleyball or badminton on the beach. As a tall girl, most cups in bathing suits are a good 3″ too low on my body, so I’m always fighting the urge to readjust. Ah…maybe a bikini would fix this issue, as I could just put the darn cups where I want them!

    Editor’s Note: I THOUGHT she looked familiar!

  2. TeleriB September 26, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I bought my first bikini this season, but only wore it once and that was under a cover-up. (We were going to an amusement park with water rides.)

    I’m also an apple and yep, there’s my belly. But I’m also the mother of two small boys who have discovered the swimming pool. I need bathroom breaks to be fast and efficient, because if I’m fiddling around with sticky wet bathing suit, they’re starting to crawl around on the bathroom floor so they can escape under the stall door.

    It wasn’t *just* expediency; I liked the polka-dotted, halter topped look and IIRC it wasn’t available in a one-piece. (Solid red was, and that wasn’t a bad alternate.) And it was partly an exercise in owning my shape and not being ashamed of it. *I* think it looks good on me, belly or no belly, but I have questionable taste at best.

    Naturally, as soon as it came in the mail, the kids lost interest in the pool. The couple of trips we finished out the season with, their father chaperoned while I ran some errands. Next year!

  3. Lisa in SoCal September 26, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Darling! The pictures are darling! I’ll go to the carpet with you over the tankini. I’m a swimmer and I’ve never found anything more comfortable to swim in. I have a super long waist so one pieces are out. Bikini tops shift on me when I am swimming, so I haven’t been crazy about the two piece. My tankini is a like pair of undies and a camisole and it fits soooooooo nicely I can swim without adjusting my suit every lap.

  4. txbunny September 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    Love the Gabi Fresh article and the pictures. :-)

    I am a large woman (16W – 18W) and yes I wear bikinis. The boob-age is a G so nothing repeat nothing will support as well (thank you Freya for making swimsuit tops based upon bra sizes)(also thank you Becca and Lucky Brand for making larger halter tops). That said I realize I am lucky – I am very hourglass, tall, flat-ish stomach, and slimmer thighs so bikinis really work for me.

    I have gone to swimwear shops and had sales people try to push me into one pieces that were not long enough with no boob support, tankinis that did not even go to my waist, swimdresses my grandmother would not wear, etc based upon my clothed size instead of my proportions. I get a bikini on that fits properly and all of a sudden sales girls are shocked at I look good in this style of swimsuit.

    Every time it expands their mind as to what women of every size can wear.

    We woman are all different shapes and sizes and we all deserve to be treated as the beautiful, unique, wonderful creatures we are. I believe we all need to own and cherish our bodies and just show the world we are here. Beauty is not the narrowly defined spectrum presented by popular media.

    For me, wearing a tasteful bikini (ie fits well, adequate boob coverage, flattering) is about as in your face body acceptance as I can get.

  5. Linda Mercury September 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I just got back from vacation on Maui, and I very wore bikinis the whole time. And so did a bunch of other big girls, too. I was proud of us for not giving a damn. :)

  6. Thea September 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Freya does bathing suits!?! Thanks TXbunny, I’m off to investigate

  7. Meg September 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I bought a bikini this year. Haven’t worn it outside of the house yet, but that’s more lack of opportunity to go swimming than any fear of how I look in it.

    I bought one in a sort of 40s style (halter top, high waist briefs) from torrid and I think my size 22ish self looks fine in it.

    Amusingly, that specific bikini does show up in the fatkini slide show. Regardless of the fashion choices that were made (not all of which I’d agree with), it’s nice to see big girls rocking a bikini and a smile.

  8. wildlfower September 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    Miss Plumcake, I’d like to ask you something, and I hope I phrase it well enough. Please mark where in the below paragraph I went wrong-O, if necessary.

    One of the premises of this blog is that it’s okay to be a big girl and that big girls are no less attractive than thin girls, etc, etc. And part of that is rejecting the societal standard that beauty = some generic Hollywood ideal (thin, blonde, etc). And yet… yet this blog sometimes mentions covering or camouflaging supposed flaws. If we embrace being big as not-a-flaw and embrace having different skin color as not-a-flaw and embrace having crazy hair as not-a-flaw, then what would one hide by not wearing a bikini that is, in fact, a bona-fide flaw? And why? Why is it a flaw to have no neck, for example? Why is it a flaw to have a big, squishy, poochy belly? But not a flaw to have big arms? Big legs?

    I just don’t understand where you draw the line between “I’m fat and fabulous, and don’t care to hide my body” and “I’m going to use some gentle camo here.”

  9. Wendy September 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    Does any two-piece bathing suit qualify as a bikini now? Because when I was younger, a bikini specifically revealed the wearer’s belly button; that’s what made it different from the two-pieces Annette Funicello wore in the Beach Blanket movies. And they got smaller from there.

    I haven’t worn what I think of as a bikini since shortly after puberty, but I have worn two-piece bathing suits. Because sometimes you just want your fish belly to get some sun, too. But flattering one-pieces have always been easier to find.

  10. Bethany September 27, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Everyone around here goes swimming in the river, and no one cares what you wear to a river, but I think it’s different at the pool.
    Anywho, I really wanted to wear a bikini this year, but I couldn’t find one I liked until the week before a rainy labor day weekend. I will be wearing it next year as much as I can. If anyone needs a fantastic plus size or straight size retro bikini, Modcloth has the most beautiful and well made bikinis I’ve ever seen. I got mine during the 75% off sale, but it’s definitely worth full price. And it’s emerald green, you guys! Emerald green!

  11. Lisa in SoCal September 27, 2012 at 1:49 am #

    @wildflower…I am not the fabulous Miss Plumcake and I am sure she has her own answer, but I am pretty sure that one thing any person of any size might want is good proportions if they want to look put together. And so while I agree “hiding flaws” is the fusty language of fat-phobia and body-shaming, it’s also not necessarily bad to dress in a way that evens you out and helps people see what you _personally_ like to project about yourself and, if you choose, to de-emphasize what you, personally, do not want taking center stage. This model who is killing it is a great example. The conventional hide-your-flaws wisdom would tell her that because she is large of leg, she should cover them up. But one reason she’s killing it is that you can still see her legs, but they aren’t the only thing you see…you see her magnificent smile, her nice accessories…and her legs, too. She would probably look just fine with her bottom half bare, but as it is, the look goes from “fine” to “woo-woo! she killing it!” the later of which is what style is about.

  12. Arabella Flynn September 27, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    I personally think the line is between “how do I want to look?” and “how do I think other people want me to look?” You can want to look like a long sweep of leg one day, and a busty bierfrau the next, and be able to achieve both of those with different outfits. You can wear things that look how you like and to hell with everyone else.

    The crit comes in when someone seems to have developed a slight (or acute) case of “that does not look how you think it does”. People generally feel best when they go out knowing that they’re presenting themselves how to mean to present themselves, and people are perceiving their presentation accurately — in other words, when we’re all on the same page. It’s rather uncomfortable to watch someone who would obviously like to be wearing anything other than what they are, or is totally missing the impression they obviously intended to make.

    It’s kinda like watching your friend get all slobbery drunk and make a fool of herself at the bar, doing something she evidently thinks is flirting coyly with a fella who is obviously (to your eyes) having none of it. You feel vaguely embarrassed, and want to help, but have no idea how to intervene without making someone (or everyone) feel worse.

  13. SarahDances September 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I think the biggest factor in the “success” of these looks is the women who have chosen suits that *actually fit* both top and bottom. I won’t comment on the ease of finding suits that actually fit, since I’m sure it’s a bear, but the ladies who look the best in that slideshow are the ones who have suits that cover and support without digging in or obviously trying to minimize, regardless of body type.

  14. CW September 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I’m a straight-sized woman; I follow this blog religiously because Miss Plumcake’s writing has a panache I can’t get enough of! And I would not be caught dead in a bikini. I think clothing, regardless of the occasion, is more for my enjoyment than anyone else’s, so even though I have no reason to believe a bikini would look bad on me, I choose to go with a more modest suit I will not have to be constantly adjusting to make sure it’s still doing it’s job. But it’s in that same spirit same spirit of ‘wear what you love” that I applaud any woman who wishes to wear a bikini because it works for her, not because society dictates she is “allowed” in public view while wearing one.

  15. wildflower September 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks, everyone! That is a nice bunch of explanations!

  16. Lisa in SoCal September 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    @CW….when you are long-waisted like I am….you look at two pieces for EXACTLY the modesty you are hoping for. One pieces either pull down up top (eek) or pull up down under (ack!) and there is no end to the pulling and pulling and picking and eyugh.

  17. qbertina October 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Same goes for a large and heavy chest. It pulls a one-piece out of whack, be it never so properly underwired by the good people at Fantasie or Freya — their one-pieces look adequate but they 1. give me wedgies and 2. drag my chest downward. Even with my short waist. If I don’t want to spend all my time adjusting my suit, and am interested in serious chestal support, then I need a two-piece.

    As an extreme hourglass with a major hip/butt situation I prefer a higher-waisted bottom style (which usually just means a bottom with more than a quarter inch of actual fabric at the hip — 2″ or 3″ is great, it doesn’t have to come up to my ribs) because it smooths out and covers said hip. I’m fine flashing midriff, but on me the exposed area needs to be high up under the ribs, not low down near the hoo-hah, at my widest and floppiest point, like what a lot of tankinis will do. So I favor a regular bikini top rather than a tankini top. I have longer tankini tops for closing the gap if I’m in a danger zone e.g. in front of my mom or potentially encountering co-workers, but they are not preferred.

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