Friday, April 8, 2011

bikini livin

Okeydoke. This article is, nominally, reportage, so you can't argue with its facts, even if they are thinly-veiled corporate shilling (Weight Watchers, Shedding for the Wedding--ungh, what a grimy name for a TV show), but still--the blithe nature of the headline, the Barbie pic (her hands look...posed), and the story itself, validates a really frustrating cultural conceit: You have to earn your right to wear certain pieces of clothing.

I'm in the mood to find this exasperating idea exasperating, even if it's so pervasive it's in the molecules in the air. (Growing up as a chubby teenager I thought a bikini would be allowable only by presidential dispensation or maybe by fantastical time travel or magic body-switching.) So I am going to hand some of this shit back:
  • A bikini is not the Maltese Falcon, an Olympic medal, the Heisman Trophy, or 1600 on your SATs. Another way of saying this: wearing a bikini is not news. A bikini is a piece (or two) of clothing. It's not a badge of honor, it's not a key you receive to enter an exclusive club, it's not something you earn the right to wear once you're thin enough to allowed to be naked enough to wear one.
  • If you want to wear one, whatever your body size, wear one! If you follow People magazine thinking, it is the most daring thing you will ever do, but honestly it's not very important, ultimately. That is galling, and rather humbling--our bodies are supposed to be earth-shattering, but they aren't. Go on and put one on and swim.
  • Depending on your body type, you actually may be more securely and completely clothed in a bikini than in a one-piece, which has its own sartorial demands. Two-piece suits keep things nicely in place with large bodies.
  • If the word "bikini" carries too much Gidget-Annette-Funicello-Sports-Illustrated-Hawaiian Tropic-Maxim-FHM connotation, just call it a two-piece! I think that sounds very neutral.
  • Sunlight is very good for you, and can help in small doses with mood disorders, bone density, and skin problems. The more of your skin exposed to the sun, the better! Just don't forget sunscreen.
  • Being in a bikini is not the same thing as having the cameras of the world upon you. Just because people make post weight-loss-debuts in the media in a bikini as proof of their new selves, this does not mean that in order to wear one you have to bear the scrutiny of a dermatologist's magnifying lens upon your self.
  • Go to Europe. Watch the 70-year-old women in two-piece bathing suits. See how that works.
  • On a larger level: Who wants to wait to be told when it's okay to do something? I understand why it happens--I understand why some women don't go swimming in public, period, given all the pressures about women's bodies--but it makes me bristle. "Letting" only a certain tiny range of body types wear bikinis, thereby excluding a lot of fat ones and a fair number of skinny ones, is fascist. Who wants to be a fascist! Not I. So uncool.
  • Articles like this one are demeaning. Rue is not a child, but the headline sounds rather like Sara Rue Walks/Ties Shoes/Chews Gum for the First Time Ever! (And should this be any of our business?) Or try it with another piece of clothing: Sara Rue Wears Pants for the First Time Ever! Stupid, no?
  • Stores with 1x-4x plus sizing such as Lane Bryant, Old Navy, Torrid, One Stop Plus, Wal-Mart, and K-Mart, sometimes sell bikinis in large sizes, and usually sell bottoms and tankini tops. Here are some places that consistently sell full bikinis on large sizes. I have bought from all of these places.
Clockwise, from upper left:

• Big on Batik
• Big Gals Lingerie
• Love Your Peaches
• By Ro! Designs

I would also throw in a plug
for Junonia's suits, which,
while not two-piece glam, are a great resource in general--I love their swim bottoms--especially when they're on sale (pretty spendy).

I also love this Monif C. bikini the company introduced this season, although it's already sold out (and I couldn't afford it anyhow), but still--how fabulous is that cut? Love the high-waisted bottom. I think that's a great look.

Happy summer! Go swimming!


  1. This post just reinforces, yet again, why you are so terribly bad ass and why I love you so very much.