There's a stigma in society that if you are fat, you shouldn't expose your body in any way. Whether this is wearing a mini dress, shorts or shock, horror - a bikini; society says, fat people should cover up. As a fat woman, I am very conscious of this ideology. I hear it in every day language from the most inconspicuous people. "Oh no i can't wear that, I feel too fat", "Eww did you see that fat woman in that dress", "I've put on sooo much weight on vacation, i look grossss!".
These three things, amongst many others are what I overheard within 15 minutes sat in a coffee shop. It's how women talk about each other and it's how men talk about women too. It's how society speaks about bodies and fat, like it's an abomination or a repulsive, contagious disease. It's made me question many times on my decision to wear a bikini when I'm plus size. But these days, I do exactly that without thinking about it. So can plus size women wear bikinis? Heck yeah. And here's why.
Fat is not an insult.
Alongside curse words and an array of other insulting and derogatory terms; the word "fat" is used by people to really cut you deep.
In fact, a 2015 survey by UK based company Slimming World (that focus on weight loss... hmm) found that around 40% of overweight people experience judgment, criticism or humiliation at least once a week. And let's not kid ourselves that these people are concerned about a fat person's health. Nope, they couldn't give a rat's ass. It lays way deeper than that, even more so than just on our cultural norm's standard of beauty...
"Fat is the ultimate insult because of the assumptions it carries," says Samantha Kwan, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at the University of Houston and co-author of Framing Fat: Competing Constructions in Contemporary Culture.
With just a glance at someone's silhouette, we tend to make assumptions about a woman's social status, level of wealth, motivation level, emotional balance, and general worth as a human. And you guessed it, if that woman is fat we automatic ally think: low social status (how medieval is that anyway), low level of wealth, lazy and no motivation, obviously can't keep emotions in check and eats feelings.
But guess what! There is actually some good news that we can share for plus size women.
A lot of these attitudes to fat people are changing, thanks to fat activism and prominent social media campaigns. Fat activists like yogi Jessamyn Stanley are changing the way we view active and beautiful bodies. Ashley Graham, Tallulah Moon, Candice Huffine, Iskra Lawrence, Tess Holliday, and Olivia Campbell are the tip of the iceberg of women shaking up the standards of the modelling industry and reminding us all that skinny shouldn't be the ultimate compliment.
And all this exposure is working!
A study from Florida State University found that women are more likely to pay attention to and remember average and plus-size models compared to thin models. And when larger ladies were on screen, women in the study made fewer comparisons and had higher levels of body satisfaction within themselves.
So should plus size women wear a bikini? YES. Because Fat is NOT an insult.
Because plus size women wearing bikinis look like this
Let's change attitudes towards plus size
As a fat woman, wearing a bikini can draw glances from many eyes on the beach. It's probably the reason you've googled this topic, to justify whether or not you should be seen in a bikini.
Here's the tea.
People fear the unknown and people fear that which they cannot explain. So, it is our perceptions and close-mindedness toward the different, the obscure or the quirky that need to change - not that there's anything wrong with being fat and wearing a bikini.
So the only way to normalize the "abnormal" is to embrace it — to wear the bikini if you want to and not be afraid of doing so.
People need to be confronted with their fears in order to change their views, but that can't happen if we — the ones who are different from cultural expectations, hide away and make ourselves invisible.
Plus size women CAN wear Bikinis
I don't know what else to say except:
OF COURSE YOU CAN WEAR A BIKINI IF YOU'RE PLUS SIZE.
OF COURSE YOU CAN WEAR A BIKINI IF YOU'RE FAT.
So that's where we'll leave it for today!
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Read our next post Can You Wear A Crop Top If You're Plus Size.