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PMM Wants To Know: Is Wearing a Bikini/Swimsuit Brave?

Ever since the fatkini hit the scene, thanks to blogger Gabi Gregg and the launch of her popular swimwear line for Swimsuitsforall (she just released her third collection), more plus size women are embracing their bodies and proudly wearing swimsuits.

In the past, many of us may have felt like this when hitting the beach in a swimsuit, because we think of what other people will do or say.

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Remember this show from 2010, starring Nikki Blonsky?

As a plus size person, you get so accustomed to being stared at, pointed at and receiving rude comments, that it becomes ingrained in your mind, that it will happen always.

But with women being more inspired by other women who have come forth and decided to confidently not pay attention to the opinions of others, it has turned into this wonderful domino effect on the plus size community on a whole. From two-pieces to sexy one-piece swimsuits, there are more larger bodies hitting the beach and pool, strutting their stuff confidently and as some think, bravely.

Recently, at our Celebrate My Size expo held during FFF Week, the question “Is wearing a swimsuit in public brave?” was asked by moderator Marie Southard Ospina to the panel, which included Editor-in-Chief Madeline Jones.

Read more: Women of All Sizes Were Celebrated at PMM’s ‘Celebrate My Size’ Expo & Town Hall Meeting During FFF Week

This conversation has been ongoing for a bit now with varying opinions — blogger Jessica Kane expressed her thoughts on this topic via Instagram this past April, stating that for her, it isn’t brave to wear a swimsuit. She expresses that she has every right to wear what she wants in public and bravery has nothing to do with it if you’re confident and don’t care what others think.

Jessica Kane Brave swim

We spoke to body positive blogger and plus size model Essie Golden, who is the creator of the hashtag #GoldenConfidence and held the first plus size rooftop pool party in NYC this month. The event not only sold out in record time, but the attendees were of all shapes and sizes, rocking revealing, sexy swimwear — exuding such confidence and style – that we were in awe.

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Essie Golden

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Essie had this to say in regarding to whether it’s brave or not to wear a swimsuit:

“Is wearing a swimsuit brave? No. Not in my opinion. But [pauses] it is for so many other women who aren’t quite there yet. I’m constantly reminding myself of that. There are still women who won’t wear a crop top, shorts, or even bright prints, and of course, swimsuits, because they don’t like their bodies. They’re scared people will talk bad about them or stare at them. At the Golden Confidence Pool Party, a few of the guests told me that this was the first time they actually felt comfortable and brave enough to wear a swimsuit. I was so shocked to hear that. Swimsuits are being thrown in our faces like never before. Again, it’s letting me know that some women are not ready like we feel they are.”

Essie has a point – it is a personal thing and each and every one of us has our own daily struggles. While Jessica Kane and Essie are already at a place where wearing a swimsuit is more the norm than being brave, there are women who are just not there yet.

However, she raises another interesting point: swimsuits are more accessible now with so many retailers and brands offering them in extended size ranges, including for plus size women. This, coupled with seeing more plus size women rocking swimsuits publicly, should make all women feel more confident in wearing a swimsuit, right? unfortunately, it’s not that simple, because it all starts within.

PMM Editor-in-Chief Madeline Jones sheds more light on this personal journey that every woman goes through, when it comes to loving yourself:

“Wearing a bikini or ANY bathing suit is brave for any woman. I would love to say that most women I know are so confident that they don’t think twice about sporting a bathing suit on the beach. The truth of the matter is that many of us have been bullied or mocked publicly as children or as adults. Making the decision to love yourself and love yourself enough to enjoy life and forget about the staring eyes, the whispers or the nasty remarks does take courage.”

However, the more plus size women out there who become more comfortable with wearing swimsuits publicly, the more retailers will take notice.

Chrystal Bougon, owner of Curvy Girl Lingerie, recently launched her Curvytini swim collection in sizes up to 5X/6X. Bougon also used customers to model the swim pieces for website imagery and campaigns to promote the new line. Her store is the first plus size lingerie brick-and-mortar store in the United States and continues to expand as Bougon continues to listen to her customer. Bougon said in a statement:

“I’m so excited we’re able to make swimwear that voluptuous, plus-size women can look and feel confident and sexy in. In addition to filling a great need for curvy girls, I’m thrilled our customers were able to model the suits for our website!”

Swimsuitsforall, who carries Gabi Gregg‘s line, recently launched a campaign featuring model Denise Bidot without the images being retouched. Seeing cellulite on Bidot’s legs while she confidently poses in sexy swim pieces has women everywhere rejoicing. But even then, S4A is an e-tailer. What about those legacy retailers that sometimes puts plus sizes in a corner on the 6th floor?

Gabi told Racked.com in a recent article about the plus size fashion industry that legacy retailers have yet to approach her, to discuss interest in selling her swimwear line in stores and she believes it is because her collection is “deemed too bold by conservative stores that still assume plus-size women want to cover up at the beach.” So she is forced to sell online versus also having her line available to women in-stores:

“People always ask what stores my bikinis are in, and when I say none, they think they must not be good enough to be stocked in stores. But as a business decision, it just makes more sense to go straight for e-commerce.”

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Image: Kirsten King for BuzzFeed

However, with media outlets such as Buzzfeed, who have written articles where they show “real-life” women in imagery versus the models wearing the clothing in advertisements, it feels as if there is a shift happening now more than ever. The latest from Buzzfeed showed some of their staff (in different shapes and sizes) modeling Victoria’s Secret swimwear alongside the models. It’s refreshing to see the comparison and be reminded that no one is perfect but that doesn’t mean they are any less beautiful and sexy.

This article speaks volumes to women in general, since Victoria’s Secret swimwear only goes up to a size XL (16/18).

Click here to see that Buzzfeed article titled “We Tried On Victoria’s Secret Bathing Suits And This Is What Happened“.

I believe that the more we work on ourselves and build our love and confidence for our bodies, the more vocal we will become by just wearing what we want to without fear. Showing ourselves to the world. By being vocal, retailers will become more educated on how plus size women are NOW versus their perception of us from 20/30/40 years ago. With blogging becoming even more popular and those women being front and center, social media has become a great way to let retailers and brands know what we want. But this starts with us. And this is something all women can relate to and not just plus size women.

So, we want to know what you think. Is it brave to wear a swimsuit? What are your thoughts on this topic? Let’s get this conversation going! Please leave us a comment below.

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