You are all probably familiar with Marina Wolf Ahmad, founder of Big Moves, who comments here as bigmovesbabe. Marina knows all about getting fatties to embrace, show off, and work with their bodies, and to that end, she sent us this delightful parody of women’s magazine “get a bikini body” articles. It’s a fitting antidote to the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, when pools open and predatory media start publishing about how to pummel and punish yourself into the swimsuit of your dreams.
Marina’s dancers, pictured at that link and below, are athletic women who are in touch with and confident about their bodies, but her article is written for beginners; you don’t have to be as comfy in your skin as a Big Moves dancer to benefit from the Bikini Mind mental workout. You don’t even have to want to wear a bikini. These exercises, taken as baby steps at first and then with increasing intensity, can help you love yourself more whether you’re in a two-piece, a one-piece, or hell, fully dressed.
Edit: Marina adds, “I also want to mention, because I see shades of this in a couple of comments, that this article is NOT meant to make people feel like they must want to wear a bikini, and if they don’t then they’re being bad fatties….This is for people who want it, but have been feeling like they need to wait.“
28 Days to a Bikini Mind
Sizzle in your swimsuit with these exercises for strengthening self-esteem and energizing your sense of empowerment!
By Marina Wolf Ahmad, choreographer and founder, Big Moves
If you’re a one-piece kind of woman hankering for a bikini-ready body, I’ve got news for you: EVERY body is bikini ready! Got tits of some sort? Got a crotch to cover? That’s what a bikini is for! When fashion magazines talk about “a bikini body”, they’re just selling you more insecurity. If you want to wear a bikini, all you need is a Bikini Mind.
Here’s a plan designed to shift those pesky mental blocks that all the dieting and the exercise in the world won’t. Don’t worry — if a string isn’t your thing, and you’re more of a tankini kind of gal, or you’re simply hoping to feel better in a suit with a daring back or a few strategically-placed keyholes, this mental workout’s for you!
With these four exercises, you’ll target your self-loathing, fear of being judged, internalized fat-phobia, and impossible standards of physical “perfection” enforced by the beauty industry. But this is no standard workout — I’ve developed a two-in-one toning routine that combines both mental effort and experiential, physical work so you get the most out of your efforts. It’s about training smarter, not longer.
By involving more of yourself at once, you tackle more baggage and bullshit in the same amount of time. Plus, moving through these exercises — not just mentalizing! — means that you get the immediate physical experience of a bikini mind, making it easier to actually feel confident as you discover your own fabulous you.
These exercises will strengthen and tone your bikini mind. To feel even better in your own skin, try to eat intuitively from an assortment of foods and drinks that you actually derive pleasure from, and move about in ways that are enjoyable and comfortable to you. If you stick to the plan, in as soon as four weeks you’ll be more at home in your body, and that’ll help you feel great in whatever bathing suit you choose!
HOW TO DO IT:
Choose a method for reflection that gives you enough space to explore, but feels safe and self-contained: journaling, drawing, talking with a friend, talking to a tape recorder. You want to challenge yourself, but in manageable amounts that you can work into your daily life. And give yourself physical room to move, too. The bathroom just ain’t big enough for what you’re going to do!
Start by doing one exercise for 3 minutes, and work up to doing it for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Depending on the exercise, you may need to take a little longer than that, but the same principle applies: start with smaller amounts of time, and work up to more. Do this workout two to three times a week with a rest day in between.
Modify this workout to match your readiness. Follow the recommended moves, or adapt them as needed by reducing the amount of time or doing only a portion.
Ready to get bikini-ready? Click “read more” to get the moves.
Mirror gaze with self-touch
Equipment: a mirror, preferably full-length or otherwise big
Start: Start by getting comfortable in front of a mirror. Standing, sitting, reclining… your position is not important as long as you can see most of yourself. Beginning at the top of your head, look at your body in the mirror. Just observe it: the shadows, the dimpling, the hair, the texture of your skin, the coloring, the shape.
Technique Tip: If you find yourself avoiding one part of your body, or feeling a strong negative reaction to it, just make a mental note of it, say “I’m not comfortable, but I can come back to that”, and move on.
Finish: As you view your body, trace the path of your own gaze with your hands. Observe what those shadows and dimples feel like, what the skin feels like where it’s rough or smooth, where the muscles lie under the skin, where the weight of flesh falls.
Safety Tip: If you cannot reach a spot that you are looking at, don’t strain too hard! And if you’re touching a spot that you’re looking at and you just can’t stop, put this down and pick up the Betty Dodson book, because that’s a different subject.
Variations: Try this clothed at first, then try it in different clothing: underwear, club clothes, your current swimsuit, naked. Also try it in different postures, whatever is accessible to you: standing, sitting, lying down, bending over. Bodies often change shape in different positions, so experiment with connecting the look to the feel in different positions.
The Self-Aware Sit
Equipment: the beach chair you use or a towel. If using a towel on a hardwood floor, you might want to lay down a yoga mat or sleeping bag first. EXTRA NICE: doing this out in a sunny, private backyard lawn.
Other than the time we spend swimming in it, a lot of what we do in a swimsuit IS sitting. And so we want to explore what it means to sit with comfort and confidence.
Start: Sit down. Find a comfortable spot. Listen to your body, and if it says, “ow, that hinge is pinching me”, or “hey, crossed ankles chafe a bit!”, then shift and fix the problem. Not enough sun? Move the towel or chair into the right spot. Too much wind? Go and get a little jacket or sweatshirt and then re-settle.
Technique Tip: set down a book or drink near you, to approximate this position in the real world.
Finish: When you are sitting, and as comfortable as you can be, what does that feel like? How does it make you feel? How do you breathe? Shift positions, get in and out of the seat differently. Start by changing positions three times in three minutes, work up to a full half-hour, holding positions for longer. Remember to read a few pages from your book, and hydrate as needed!
If you notice transitions that feel awkward or “not sexy”, take a moment to think about that. Why are they not sexy? Does their not-sexiness hinge on you feeling physically uncomfortable, or do they make you feel as though someone might catch a glimpse of you in a way that you can’t control? Furthermore, does every move need to be sexy?
Safety Tip: As you lower and raise yourself to and from a seated position, or shift from different positions of seatedness and proneness, make note of which transitions feel physically safe and which feel a little precarious.
Variations: Try eating in a seated position. If your eventual outing includes food with it, you want to determine what are the comfortable positions for nourishing yourself. Where to rest your little plate? How far can you reach without tipping over? The answers to these questions you do not want to find out when you’re out in your bikini for the first time.
Equipment: an article of clothing that (legally) reveals some part of your body that you are not used to revealing, or feel uncomfortable revealing. Also needed: A location where this article of clothing may frequently be seen on other women, and at least one supportive friend, if not a group.
Start: Put on that piece of clothing, accompanied by other pieces of clothing and accessories that match it, in your estimation, and feel good. Suggestions: shorts or a miniskirt (if you are uncomfortable with your thighs), form-fitting dress or top (if you are uncomfortable with your belly), etc… If you enjoy make-up and styling your hair, please do that if you wish. Go out and show your friend how you are dressed.
Technique Tip: Strut a little, ham it up. Why not? You look great!
Finish: Go out in public with this friend and this outfit on. Pick a place that is someplace you would like to go anyway (a club, a county fair, an art show, a bar), set a time limit before you leave OR change (10 minutes, 20 minutes, one hour), and just go. Notice how you feel if you are in your own neighborhood, versus out in a new location. How do you feel in public transportation or walking? What activities feel good in this outfit, and what things are harder to do than you thought (bending over, for example!). What are things you thought might happen if you wore this piece of clothing, and are they happening or not? Talk with your friend(s) about your feelings, during or after the excursion, but try to also enjoy what you’re out doing.
Safety Tip: Don’t drink any alcohol or use any drugs before doing this exercise. It can be tempting, as an aid in lowering your inhibitions and any nervousness you may have, but drug use gets in the way of awareness and safety, and you want to stay alert to your feelings.
Variations: Select different locations for your excursions. Try different body parts for exposure. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend out on the excursion.
Suit Up! (window-shopping as self-empowerment)
Equipment: several web sites that sell cute bikinis, NOT necessarily in your size.
Start: Go online and browse. Study the different ways that bikinis can be cut, look at the models for the swimsuits and see how their body type may or may not affect the way the swimsuit looks. Note the different fabrics and ties that can be used, as well, and write down or sketch what your bikini might look like.
Technique Tip: Use a pencil with eraser when sketching. The more you look, the more likely your ideas will change.
Finish: Take a look at your existing swimsuit or bikini. Are there ways to modify it to make it more closely approximate your sketch? Do you know how to sew well enough to make something that looks like it? Do you have money to buy a swimsuit? If so, did you find anything online that came close to your sketch? Can you afford something custom-made, through Love Your Peaches, for example? Take one of these steps to get your swimsuit in hand.
Safety Tip: Check out return policies on the swimsuits, before you buy online.
Variations: Go to a physical store, preferably with a supportive friend, and browse. If you are on the fatter side of average, you will likely not find anything in a physical store. Why do you think that is so? What can you learn from looking at swimsuits not in your size? ADVANCED: Select a bikini that you do like, take it up to the counter and ask if they carry it in your size. If the answer is no, say something like the following: “Oh, that’s too bad, I really wanted to get it. You should let your suppliers know that there is interest in larger sizes for this stuff.”
The Big Day
The first time you go out in a bikini, make sure you do the following to really support the new you:
- Test-drive your new suit doing all the things in the exercises above: sitting, bending over, lying down, eating, talking with your friends. Do you anticipate standing at all? Try that. What about playing volleyball? Check the bounce factor! If you are sitting in a wheelchair or scooter, see how the seat feels against your skin, and take steps to make that comfortable, like a folded towel. Remember to take time not only to move in your suit, but to feel how it feels to move in your suit.
- Select a location for your debut that caters to a diverse crowd of people, in terms of age, ethnicity, etc. Spring break in Florida: not a good choice.
- Bring friends who really get what you’ve been doing, and think you’re awesome. If they’ve been following the Bikini Mind workout, they’ll have their own stuff going on, but you can support each other.
- Bring the props for the things that you enjoy doing (reading, knitting, listening to music, playing badminton). Whatever you’re wearing, you want to be doing something that is fun and engaging.
- Take time afterwards to reflect on the experience, whether by yourself or with your friends.
And congratulations! You’re on your way to building up that Bikini Mind, which is a rare and wonderful thing. A lot of people who look like they have a so-called Bikini Body don’t have the mind to go with it, so way to go!