I love the beach. I spend all summer there and spend the rest of the year pining for summer so I can park myself on the sand again. For most of my life, I’ve lived in the same house in a small coastal town with a beach literally down the road. When the Boyfriend and I move in together, we want to live in eastern Sydney so the Pacific isn’t too far away. I’m emotionally dependent on the ocean. I feel my whole body relax when I smell the sea air and I physically ache for a swim when I’ve gone a while without a dip. My love runs deep.
When I go for a swim, I wear a bikini. I’ve been wearing two piece cossies since I was about 10 years old. I find them more comfortable, it’s quick and easy to change out of my swimmer bottoms right there on the sand when I come out of the water (to avoid getting thrush) and – the Cancer Council will have me hanged for this – I like having an even tan.
I’ve been planning a bikini post for months. I was always going to show my half-naked self on Corpulent to tell everyone that I’m not ashamed of my body (and hopefully encourage you to not be ashamed of yours). I was going to wait until it was a little warmer and I had a bit more of a tan to take some photos and write this post. However, my schedule was pushed ahead by this gem of an article by Natasha Hughes.
Hughes’ article questions suitable beach attire; namely whether “overweight Australian women” should wear bikinis. The article itself is tiny – less than 250 words – but it made me furious. The most bilious section states, “I know there’s going to be two schools of thought on this but I’m with the Fat Should be Camouflaged College. Who wants to be exposed to someone’s rolls? Where is their sense of style, of decency?”
Decency? DECENCY?! How’s this for fucking decency:
The article was published on Tuesday and, 6 days later, Hughes’ spiteful words still make me angry. I hate the sense of entitlement that comes with a question like, “Who wants to be exposed to someone’s rolls?” Hughes’ tone is reflected in many of the comments. According to them, displaying our bodies becomes a vicious action – we are “subjecting”, “inflicting” and “confronting” – because our fat is “disgusting”, “nauseating”, “gross” and my personal favourite “pollution for the eyes”.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I despise the idea that all fatties (and indeed, anyone with bodies outside the beauty ideal) must shield the eyes of the poor, unsuspecting public from the offensiveness of their bodies. Listen and repeat after me: Life is not a beauty pageant. We do not exist to be aesthetically pleasing to the judgemental eyes of strangers.
You do not have to be beautiful. It’s not your responsibility to be beautiful, for yourself or for anyone else, not for your family or your partner or your friends or some stranger on the street who finds your face unpleasant.
You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.
There is a fabulous quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh that states, “One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much. Clothes, first. Of course one needs less in the sun. But one needs less anyway, one finds suddenly … One finds one is shedding not only clothes – but vanity.”
That beautifully encapsulates what I love about the beach and what I hate hate hate about Hughes’ article. The beach necessitates freedom but Hughes is trying to apply bullshit sartorial decorum to it. True style and true decency is borne from a comfort in one’s skin and a confidence in the image one is presenting to the world. Fat hate masquerading as bland fashion advice? How terribly passé.
Fancy “inflicting” your flesh on others?
- By Ro Designs has cute bikinis and monokinis from size 1X (which equates to a US size 18/20) to 6X
- noXceptions is an Australian online store that stocks a few two piece togs from an Australian size 16 to 40
- Stacked on etsy has adorable custom retro two pieces
- Midnight Black has adorable 40s and 50s style bikinis up to a 2X (more styles are available in their Newtown store)
- Pin Up Girl Clothing also has retro bikinis, but their plus size stock is a bit low. I saw a couple of US size 18s and 20s, as well as a few 14s and 16s in their main range.
- Big Girls Don’t Cry Anymore stocks bikinis up to an Australian size 20
- Big Gals Lingerie has bikinis in a number of different styles in sizes 1X (US size 16/18) and 2X (US size 20/22)
- Love Your Peaches has two pieces from 1X (US size 14/16) to 6X (US size 34/36). However, their website states that their clothing runs large and recommends ordering a size down.
- Monif C sells saucy high waisted bikinis
- If you’re on the smaller side of fat, Asos sells bikinis up to a UK size 18 and Outdoor Girl sells bikinis up to a 2X (US size 18)
- Smaller fats with smaller boobs: Don’t disregard straight size surf/swimwear shops. I found my bikini in a Rip Curl shop. That said, I found it after looking in many other stores, so if you’re going to hunt for a straight size bikini be prepared for some frustration.
Menfolk, I don’t mean to exclude you. I love seeing a man in a pair of swim briefs so please feel emboldened to “expose” your rolls too. I know that Speedo’s only go up to a 44”/110cm waist, so if anyone knows where to get plus size swimwear for men please leave it in the comments.