Fatkini: The Plus-Sized Bathing Suit That Has Everyone Talking

I was invited to the NECN Morning Show to talk about the new fashion trend called the “fatkini”  the ill-named bikini for plus-sized women.  The trend was ignited by blogger, Gabi Gregg who partnered with the company Swimsuits For All to create comfortable, trendy looking bikinis specifically for plus-sized bodies.  They are flying off the shelves!  The trend has sparked some thought-provoking discussion about what it means that some plus-sized women want to wear bikinis proudly.

One perspective I heard is that if you don’t have a “bikini” body you shouldn’t wear a bikini.  The trouble I have with this notion is that it reinforces the “perfect body” ideal which has done women no favors over the years, especially as the “perfect body” size has gradually diminished as the average body has increased.  We are not only becoming heavier over time but more judgmental too.

Another perspective I heard is that plus-sized women who proudly wear bikinis shouldn’t “flaunt” their bodies, but rather take responsibility for them.  I have trouble with this notion too.  It suggests that until you physically appear “healthy” or “ideal” you should be ashamed of yourself and hide your body.  First of all, body weight is a terribly imperfect predictor of health, so the assumption that someone who is a size 14, for example, is unhealthy is ignorant and unfair.  Just by looking at most people we have no way of telling whether they are healthy or unhealthy, whether they exercise or not, or whether they make healthy dietary choices or not.  Even if someone was struggling with making healthy diet choices and not getting enough exercise, they are in good company.  Most Americans are.  We live in an environment where this can be a very difficult thing to do.  Certain biological factors can increase one’s susceptibility to environmental influences, making matters even more difficult.  Even if you were able to lose a great deal of weight does not mean that everyone else could be as successful or should have “no excuse.”   I published this piece a few years ago that shows why the “personal responsibility” philosophy of obesity is so incredibly misguided.

My perspective is this.  We have to remember that everyone is on a different road, with different challenges and belief systems.  At all sizes, we need to stop focusing on our body size so much that it interferes with our ability to enjoy life.  I applaud the women with less than “perfect” bodies who have let their anxieties go enough to strap on a fun, fashionable, comfortable bathing suit and have a great summer.  If you catch yourself judging, check your baggage at the door.  Life is too damn short.

Check out the clip of the NECN Spot here.

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One Comment

  1. Artemis S says:

    Thank you for this post, especially for the insight that “at all sizes, we need to stop focusing on our body size so much that it interferes with our ability to enjoy life”.

    This is a message that we don’t hear enough, in between the news segments about “the obesity epidemic” and the magazines featuring “the perfect bikini body”. In none of these does anyone talk about addressing what is within the body–the self that lives, and ought to live fully, her life.

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