Bikini Ready

Every spring, the same thing happens.  Year after year, without fail, women's magazines start spouting diet and exercise advice to trans...

Every spring, the same thing happens.  Year after year, without fail, women's magazines start spouting diet and exercise advice to transform your winter/spring body into a body that is worthy of donning a 2-piece bathing suit.

Translation:  In order for you to feel good about being in a bikini, you most lose weight/inches BEFORE you even think about putting the bikini on.

I resent this because I firmly believe having a positive body image is a mental process, not a physical one.  People can be body-confident and bikini ready regardless of their size.  (Maybe I'm saying this because I posted a picture of myself in a bikini on the internets only when I was sure that nothing anyone said would bring me down.)  Besides, there are just as many larger people that feel sexy and confident in a two piece as there are thin people that hyper-critical (See Brazil).

So of course I tweeted a one-liner about being pissed off about this (my anger toward magazines should be nothing new to anyone who reads my blog):


 And of course that snowballed into a conversation and then the usual being misconstrued.


While I understand what @monikawoolsey was trying to say about drawing more attention to the obsession not helping people be less obsessed, I disagree firmly.  There is no counterbalance if no one (either professionals in the health/fitness community or consumers themselves) speaks up and says "Health and wellness (mental and physical) comes in all sizes and shapes.  No one body shape owns the bikini."

As for being misconstrued, if you read the link you'll see that she calls me "a woman who advocates for size acceptance."  Okay, that's far from slander, but it's terribly inaccurate.  NAAFA I am not


Where the size acceptance community and I diverge in opinion revolves around the issue of health.  I don't think someone who is obese or morbidly obese (overweight is a different story) is in their right mind if/when they claim to be healthy (i.e. without their weight impacting their health).   I'm not saying one needs to be able to run a marathon in order to be considered healthy, but I'd venture to say there are certain co-morbidity factors that would suggest being excessively overweight is in the "to be avoided" category.

So yeah... doot da do.... if you've done the work to feel good about yourself physically and mentally, why should anyone or anything tell you that it is not enough (whether you're at the finish line or in progress)?  Why should the world's opinion of your physical/mental wellness out-rank your own?  If you feel confident in a bikini, then wear a fucking bikini.  Own it! Strut down the beach in the bikini.  Gracefully float in that bikini.  So what if the world (or magazines, or other people) doesn't think you're worthy of donning the itty-bitty-teenie-weenie yellow polka-dots?   The world can shove it.

this is what freedom looks like
BTW, June's #GoTheDist has nothing to do with size acceptance.  I'm not asking anyone to look at themselves and think "I'm obese, the world should be okay with that."  I'm asking people to look at themselves and be able to think "I'm imperfect, it's okay.  I'm still loveable."  It's a tough challenge for people at every size and shape to be able to look at themselves naked and NOT critique themselves.  The challenge is to look in the mirror and find things to love.

I think Sheryl says it best (as she often does):
You may not be able to change certain aspects of your physical self, but you *can* change the way you think about them and accept them, at least eventually.  But just like everything else, you will only get there if you begin to work on making that change.  And just like everything else - you can do it, you can make that change.  If you believe you can.  So believe.  And do it!  Your body is amazing and you need to see that - even if you don't see it in the mirror.  Yet.

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15 comments

  1. "I'm imperfect, it's okay. I'm still loveable."

    THIS!

    I went out of the house for the first time in... ever... in a short sleeve t-shirt. A purple tank w/ sparkly rhinestones on the front.

    I've been so ashamed of my fat arms for so long that I'd wear long sleeves even in our hot as hell 111 degree summer weather.

    I am in the beginning stages of my personal development/self transformation journey of loving myself, accepting myself and being all that I can be and I felt so free not worrying about how fat my arms are!

    I felt comfortable in my skin which is happening more often on an almost daily basis.

    I love that feeling.

    Excellent blog post.

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  2. I think this applies to bathing suits and clothes in general, not just bikinis. The messages sent to woman and girls are awful, and inspire (in my opinion) a lot of self loathing and insecurities, not to mention pettiness and jealousy. :(

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  3. Love how you call yourself a mental/physical, health trumping aesthetics advocate. It's great!

    I'm not sure size acceptance is about claiming to be healthy. I would suggest that most of those co morbidities are actually lifestyle related which is nothing to do with size. I prefer a healthy lifestyle but somebody who chooses different still deserves medical empathy. Whether they are big or small.

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  4. I FREAKIN ADORE THAT PHOTO.
    and the caption.

    ADORE.

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  5. Tee: (1) become friends with BodyGlide -- it's great for preventing chafe (I chafe under my arms a lot when I exercise); (2) Kudos YOU! How does it feel to be liberated from long-sleeve shirts?

    KT80: You're 100% right--that it applies to pretty much all clothes that women wear. And you know what? I'm guilty of it too (for instance, I don't think anyone should wear baby-doll dresses except for babies or dolls). The long of the short of it is that people should be able to wear what makes them feel good (so long as it is appropriate-- i.e. paying attention to dress codes at school, work, and also common/public decency laws) without fear that they'll be judged because of it.

    Sassy: I think that one statement really boiled me down to a specific mission. I think I'm going to use that more often. You know, I went back and read more about NAAFA's About Us section as well as the rest of the site-- and I think there are that there are two messages they're trying to get across:
    1. Accept us
    2. don't discriminate against us

    And I think those are two different statements. It's really hard for me to wrap my head around the "accept us" statement because I've been obese and I don't think anyone should accept, or rather settle, for being obese. I am 100% behind not being discriminated against.

    However, would it be against NAAFA's mission statement to help and encourage an obese person to lose the weight? For me that's the ultimate in medical empathy--to say "I've been obese too, and I found a way out. Let me help you." But that isn't accepting someone. (And also, I'd say that pursuant the New Rules, the person making the change should be the one prompting that discussion, but often people need to know they have the safety net before making the leap.)

    Carla: I'm a fish. What can I say?

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  6. I adore this post more than words can say. I find it so hard sometimes to have conversations about "fat acceptance." I too believe that being obese unhealthy, just like being an anorexic is unhealthy. Neither one of those groups should be discriminated against, but that doesn't make them ideals I want to achieve.

    "I don't think anyone should accept, or rather settle, for being obese. I am 100% behind not being discriminated against. "

    You said it best right there. I refuse to settle. :)

    Fabulous post, as always. I'm definitely passing this along to friends!

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  7. I still have a little bit of a problem with size acceptance because i actually know people who have chosen to stay unhealthy because someone told them they looked fabulous that way. Whether you do or don't like the way you look, i think your health ought to be more important to you than how sexy you feel in your swimsuit.

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  8. "However, would it be against NAAFA's mission statement to help and encourage an obese person to lose the weight?"
    I'm not sure I can speak for NAAFA but I don't believe there is any faction who wants to choose to remain fat to support 'the cause'. It comes down to a couple of things for me. One being, that there is no permanent way to make a fat person thin. The next being that weight loss dieting is a never ending struggle. The kicker being that I also enjoy being healthy and active. So, for me, I need to take weight out of the equation and focus on my health. If I am still obese after all that then what am I meant to do?
    Hating myself is not an option. You can't hate yourself thin or healthy.
    So I am 'settling' for an active, healthy life that doesn't involve dieting, bingeing or self hate. And it rocks:)
    If somebody chooses to be unhealthy, that is not my business.

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  9. Grrr I had a lovely long response typed out...

    Emily: those conversations are tricky. I think it's along the lines of "don't hate the player, hate the game." Don't hate the person, hate the disease, right?

    Steph: I don't think beauty should ever be confused with health. It's the difference between form and function. You can have a beautiful car with a busted engine, but what good is it to you?

    Sassy: While it's not to support "the cause," there are people who want to go beyond a healthy "few extra pounds" to wanting to be morbidly obese. I can wrap my head around cultures that prefer people who have extra weight (as a sign of wealth/status), and I can even wrap my head around people who prefer to carry a few extra pounds versus trying to be uncomfortably thin. I can understand the thin person that eats like a horse and just doesn't gain weight. It takes all types.

    I'm not asking anyone to hate themselves. I just don't want to be labeled as a "size acceptance" advocate -- because I don't advocate people who have unhealthy habits to achieve their aesthetic (be it fat or thin) goals.

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  10. I love your perspective! As a mom who works mostly with other moms, I often tell myself and them that our bodies are beautiful - not because of how they fit into any size anything - but because we are mothers. Our bodies have adapted to suit that purpose. We are strong. We brought forth life. We nursed life. We need to be somewhat soft for our babies. However, at the same time I encourage health. Because it's not about size, it's about health. I know a lot of big, healthy women that are better off than skinny, unhealthy women. My favorite quote is "A friend is someone who knows where you've been, accepts where you are, and still encourages you to grow." Not change, not shrink, but grow! This is what I encourage on my site. Also, new research coming out points to how some bellies are actually injuries from abdominal trauma or pregnancy. It's called a diastasis, and it's the culprit behind the mama pooch and the beer gut. But people who don't know this will try to crunch or diet themselves to slim-dom. All because they don't take a hard look at themselves, accept themselves as they are, and then assess what they really need to get stronger and healthier.

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  11. Bethany--
    Bellies aren't the enemy; how we feel about them is. I mean, not everyone is meant to have 6-pack abs. But at the same time, if you have "mama pooch" or a bit of a "beer gut" -- it doesn't mean you're lazy and/or don't put forth the effort to be healthy, yanno?

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  12. I was actually shunned by a woman in a "Fat Fancy" store in Portland because I'm on a weight loss journey/lifestyle change.
    "Ohh we don't like that"
    Wow, I mean I am with you. My body is an amazing gift, it has given me two beautiful children and I need to be thankful for that. But I am also obese and unhealthy and that needs to be addressed.
    We can accept the things that have lead up to mass weight gain and learn to love ourselves and our potential to treat our bodies as the gift they were intended by eating right and exercising. I think that many people get the wrong idea about self love. I've heard people say, oh well you're only telling yourself its ok so you can keep overeating. As well as those "size acceptance" folks. I feel that its a big case of outer vs inner love.
    Its a hard balance that many of us haven't learned, myself included.

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  13. Wow Christa -- really??? I can't believe they shunned you for trying to lose weight.

    I think we can accept ourselves while still realizing we're unhealthy. True self love is wanting to be the best possible version of ourselves (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, etc.)

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  14. Yep! I was upset because they have adorable vintage pin up clothing and have lost a customer because I am trying to be the best me I can be.

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<3 Robby