Guest post: 28 Days to a Bikini Mind

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.

Deidra of Big Moves Boston.  Photo by Stephen Everett.

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.

Public (in)decency

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!

67 thoughts on “Guest post: 28 Days to a Bikini Mind

  1. Furthermore, does every move need to be sexy?

    THANK YOU. EXACTLY.

    There are not enough caps locks in the world to express how important this one little sentence is.

  2. Awesome post!

    Do you know how to sew well enough to make something that looks like it?

    Y’know, it hadn’t really occurred to me to sew a suit that I would actually like, despite the fact that my living room usually looks like Joann Fabrics exploded in it. *facepalm*
    So thanks for the idea!

  3. YES! YES! YES!

    And yes, I’ve seen so many women who have the ‘bikini body’ but entirely fail to have the bikini mind to go with it, and it just ain’t pretty. Attitude is a much larger proportion of how we come off than we often realize.

    Thanks for this timely and entertaining article. I intend to revel in my body today in your honor…and mine.

  4. That is so awesome.

    I still need to find a bikini (or at least a two-piece) for my elopement/honeymoon in Antigua. (Yeah, we’re middle-class white people.) I decided that how the fiance looks when I’m wearing one (shock and awe!) is more important than how random people on the beach look. Now I’ve got the bikini mind exercises to go with it!

  5. Wonderful article and very well written!

    Also: I just needed to tell you guys. I TOTALLY used the, “Aren’t you Kate Harding?” line on BigMovesBabe a few weeks ago!!

  6. The idea that the whole point of the bikini is sexiness is really the whole problem with acquiring the Bikini Mind.

    But, it occurs to me, if you have a significant other of some kind, who else are you trying to be sexy for? Truly? Is it really going to matter if random persons don’t go home and masturbate to your image? Would you really feel better if you were certain that they did?

    I felt a lot more confident at the beach after that. Besides, if you get into the water, you aren’t hiding much anyway, so why try so hard?

  7. Is it really going to matter if random persons don’t go home and masturbate to your image?

    Ahahahaha!

    Damn, that is perfect.

  8. When I saw the photo, my first thought was just “Yay!” and was followed quickly by my second thought: “where the hell can I get a bikini like that??” Practically every time I’m in the water, I’m wearing a wetsuit anyway, but for the few times I’ll be wearing a swimsuit, I’d really like to have a pretty two-piece like that, with a cup size that’s actually large enough. Instead of the tankini and skirt combo I resorted to buying, which looks nice and all but I don’t like the “hide your FLAWS!” aspect.

  9. That’s Marina’s dancer Deidra (which I tried to put as a caption, but it ended up as alt text), so maybe Marina will be able to enlighten us as to where the bikini came from. My guess is that it’s from Love Your Peaches, because it’s one of the only plus swimwear sites I can think of that carry proper bikinis instead of tankinis with built-in slimming panels or whatever.

  10. I bought a bikini last weekend, I think I shall practice some of these moves (especially the Mirror Gaze and the Self-Aware sit) in it to get my courage up. I will report back on my progress :)

  11. As a fat girl who HAS rocked a bikini (in public! while fat! OMG!), I have to say this is fucking fantastic. :D

    bookwyrm: Funny story. I asked my husband to take a full-body photo of myself in the bikini, and I put it up on Flickr. It stayed up for a few months until I noticed it had almost 900 views. The rest of my photos had, like, 20 views each. It had a couple of “woo, sexay mama!” comments, from users whose photostreams were nothing but penises, that I promptly deleted. Eventually I took the photo down because it bothered me to know that total strangers were whackin’ it to my photo.

    Actually, wait. That’s not funny at all. :(

  12. On a related note, I just tried on my bikini and it still fits! since it’s been 25 lbs since I bought it (15 lbs from pregnancy), I call that quite economical as well. The top is strings, so it’s adjustable length, and the bottom is covering with a little frill that I thought was just as cute as could be. Not enough to cover anything, just enough to decorate. Most 5 mo. pregnant women wouldn’t be able to use last years swim wear simply because of the tummy protrusion, but bikinis don’t have that problem!

    maewyn: well, you can always find someone who will go for whatever you are. Come to think of it, that’s probably part of why FA bothers so many people; they might find themselves in the position of being sexually interested in other than the status quo.

  13. maewyn: By no means did I mean to imply that you are anything other than attractive, or that one is odd to be interested. Really, I meant that, on the internet, you can find anyone to be vocal about anything. And you probably didn’t want to know what nasty little thoughts were running about in their heads anyway. See Penny Arcade’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

  14. bookwyrm: No offense taken. :) I wasn’t trying to be sexy in the photo anyway. I meant to underscore your earlier point, which is, do you *really* want total strangers to masturbate to your photo? And, if not, who are you being sexy for?

    If you’re comfortable and feel good, I think that’s what matters most.

  15. Amazing! This post makes me want to buy and wear a bikini, for the first time ever. Maybe the junior high shame of having two girls follow me down the beach singing “Baby Beluga” can finally be healed? If I spend just minutes a day doing these exercises…

  16. Furthermore, does every move need to be sexy?

    I think that’s a good rule to remember for life in general…

  17. One of the single best thing about a bikini (or two piece bathing suit) is that it dries faster. The second wonderful thing is that you can often buy it in two sizes (which is great if your top and bottom aren’t in sync).

    I’m going to have to get a new one this summer. Ater having a 3rd kid, my top’s a bit bigger, though the bottoms I have should still fit, but we’ll see. And of course, wearing a two piece after having a baby means confronting and relearning all the body parts that’ve shifted and changed, and getting comfortable again with showing my stripes (which I’ve earned, thank you very much).

    I like suits with a little top and a skirted bottom (because I do not feel the need to shave my vulva, though I should note that I also don’t shave my legs.).

    Having gotten my first two-piece about 10 years ago, I don’t think I’m ever going back.

  18. Brilliant. Totally freakin’ brilliant.

    And, yeah, how cool would it be if people could wear whatever-the-hell-they-wanted (bathing suits or otherwise) without it being assumed they’re trying to market themselves as a sex object? REAL COOL.

  19. Such a great post! Although, personally, I totally rock swim dresses. So short and skintight they show as much as a suit, but I don’t have to

    a: find myself wondering whether my glorious, unshaven bits are causing an odd bulge or

    b: continuously pull up/down/across/along/insideout/upside down the various bits of a suit, bikini or tankini as my activities move the clothes about.

    My one is gorgeous. Black, very short, but the boob covering is a very VERY lowcut, bright tropical patterned halterneck that carefully scoops around and under my bust. It even manages to hold my giant jiggly tits in place without pulling on my neck!

  20. Bunny, yeah, I saw a couple of suits this weekend that completely changed my opinion on skirted suits. Usually I am anti because it screams “I’m hiding my fat, even though hello I am still wearing a swimsuit and you can tell I’m fat, because this is what the women’s magazines told me would be ‘flattering,’ i.e. camouflaging, on my body.” But there are some really cute ones out there now, where the skirt actually looks like a style element instead of a shame panel.

  21. I spend a lot of time in the pool, so I’ve seen a lot of different sizes and shapes of bodies in all different styles of swimsuits. (I’ve got to watch something – I’ve already calculated how many tiles are on the walls and how many of each color there are and what shapes they make…sometimes swimming laps is dull.) And the only conclusion I’ve come to about style is that it’s a lot less about the size of your body and a lot more about the shape of your individual body vs. the features of the suit.

    When I was growing up it was just accepted that if your hips were above a certain size of course you would wear a skirted suit to hide them. Except on many people those skirts make the hips look way larger than they are. There’s nothing like a horizontal line at exactly the wrong place to add visual width.

    It taught me a lot about finding social swimsuits for myself. (As opposed to my lap suit where function trumps everything. It doesn’t look bad on me, it’s just very….functional.) I don’t rule anything out until I’ve tried it on and seen what it looks like on my body with my shape. You really never do know until you try.

  22. How weird — Shapely Prose inspired me to do exactly this about a month ago, because being in a bikini was my biggest body hang-up, and my biggest (former) incentive to lose weight for camp. I did the mirror and the sitting and all of that. My stomach still bothers me, but I’m working on that, and everything else is great. I wore this bikini more than a stone ago and couldn’t rock it like I do now. It really, really is all about the bikini mind.

    But, it occurs to me, if you have a significant other of some kind, who else are you trying to be sexy for? Truly? Is it really going to matter if random persons don’t go home and masturbate to your image? Would you really feel better if you were certain that they did?

    This is a somewhat disturbing thought, but really really interesting. I think there is a solution to several of my body issues in there somewhere.

  23. What a fantastic post! Detailed, realistic, and gradual tips! I think no matter how long we’ve been around fat-acceptance circles, it’s always good to read posts like this and do these kinds of things.

    It’s so funny you mention Betty Dodson because I just had a post over at Boinkology on the intersection of body lib and sex lib where I mentioned her (and Shapely Prose)–and I linked back to this post in the comments before even getting to that part. I really do think Betty Dodson was the first person to introduce me to the radical concept that my body is okay :)

  24. I bought my first bikini last summer. Before then, every swimsuit I’d ever owned had been basically the same– one piece with a darkish conservative color scheme with suck in yer flab panels and/or strategically placed colorblocking to draw attention away from “problem areas”. Blah. Sometimes if I was feeling really daring, I might wear one with, like, a teeny cutout or a weird-tan-lines-be-damned back or something.

    Then I went to the pool with a new friend (who is fat and totally has the Bikini Mind). She wore a cute little bikini, and that was the first time I’d seen a fat chick in a bikini up close. She looked great, but what really blew me away was that ZOMG SHE DIDN’T SEEM TO CARE THAT HER FAT BODY WAS NEARLY NAKED IN A PUBLIC PLACE! And… (gasp!) Neither did anyone else there. Nobody gave her any shit about it, civilization didn’t come screeching to a halt… There was just a fat chick in a bikini at the pool. Big deal.

    I went out and bought a bright striped bikini the next day. Guess what? Nothing bad happened to me when I wore it, either alone or with the aforementioned bikini-wearing fat friend. I can’t believe it took me so long.

  25. I totally love this — thanks, Marina! I haven’t had a new swimsuit in about 10 years, and my body is so different from how it used to be. I never really realize that this is something I’ve avoided doing until all the bikini-shopping articles come out each year at this time.

    On that note, if any Shapelings have recommendations for bikinis/tankinis/swimsuits of any kind that can support a Rack of Doom, I’d appreciate recommendations. ;-)

  26. This whole thing is absolutely amazing. I found this blog a couple days ago and it’s already totally changed my attitude about food and my body (I wore cute clothes today instead of hiding under a baggy t-shirt! Yay!). But I never, ever in a million years would have realized there is no law on who can wear a bikini and who can’t until it was spelled out for me. And seriously, what a concept. After YEARS of being brainwashed into thinking there are all these “clothing laws” for fat girls (and skinny girls, and tall/short girls, and girls with big/small boobs, and whatever), it is wonderfully refreshing to be reminded that the only actual clothing laws involve not waving your naked crotch and boobs around in public.

    Not to mention the idea that my body is there primarily to provide me with like, life and stuff, rather than sexual attention that I probably don’t even want (I’m a lesbian and still have to remind myself not to care if MEN find me attractive or not). Like, who cares if some random person at the beach thinks I’m sexy? And even if I did care, if they didn’t think I was sexy in a bikini, were they really going to think I was sexy in that lovely ensemble with the anti-flab skirt and panels? I seriously doubt it.

  27. most excellent post.

    i also wanted to point out how awesome it was that you included an awareness for those of us who use scooters and wheelchairs — much appreciated!!

  28. Congratulations on a well written article. I’m a career fitness coach in Hollywood, and you hit the nail on the head. Body imagery—visualization, etc., is really the key behind the physical transformation.

    I’d love to reprint it on my blog at http://www.PeaceLoveLunges.com — please let me know if you would like to be a guest columnist. I would love to have you.

  29. If you’ve got a rack of doom and any tummy at all, and you’re looking for support more than style, I *totally* recommend maternity suits. Unlike maternity clothes, (most) don’t make you look pregnant, but they are built for SUPPORT. I like them because they support me running about afterwards with a pair of shorts on top.

  30. I like the sound of this hate-loss plan. I’m ready to lose 30 lbs of emotional baggage! :)

    I really wish I never watched those cartoons where there was a fat woman in a bikini at the pool or beach only for the purposes of comic relief. Those were really hurtful.

  31. I haven’t been swimming in a decade, which totally sucks, because I used to love it. I just can’t imagine getting in a bathing suit and being in public. Even reading this post, I feel some resistance and total freaked-outedness, but that just means it’s working.

    A friend of mine recently moved nearby. She loves water aerobics and she’s almost, almost convinced me to go. But it’s scary! Even if no one looks, I am afraid. Which is sad.

  32. This post was great. I’m totally not there yet . There are parts of me that have never seen sun, so I’m a little afraid that something awful really would happen – super pasty white is me (Plus, I can make myself feel really tan – I don’t actually, measurably tan – by laying my arm across my stomach and going, wow, how fabulous is that?). However, I do love me some tankinis because, frankly, one piece suits are not flattering on almost anyone anyway and tankinis and bikinis make the whole bathroom experience so much happier.

    It also made me think of the way I test out strapless dresses (in the move around and see how it fits phase). I lean over and shake ‘em like a polaroid picture – if they don’t fall out, we’re good.

    And, I’m also a little traumatized at the thought of all the masturbating that might be going on because of me that i’m not aware of – ick. ick. ick. There are some icky people out there, I don’t want them….ick.

  33. Random vent. My aunt is a nurse on the Jenny Craig diet. Every thing is about her damned diet, and every medical condition that comes up (thank you very much pharmaceutical advertisements) can be cured with “diet and exercise”. Not to mention that everything on my plate that makes it to my mouth is up for committee of 1 discussions. ARGH!!!!!!! Bite me!

    Sorry, I knew you guys would understand even tho I don’t post all that often.

  34. TOTAL ditto at Rejoyce: i want to buy my 1st bikini, too, now! those pics are awesome. only difference for me was the kids singing “beached whale” instead of “baby beluga”, but i get the drift.

    fillyjonk, that is EXACTLY why i’ve never gone with the skirted bits, though i’ve been a big girl for all my bathing suit shopping years. “shame panel” is the exact description for every little skirt i’ve ever seen. if it’s so cute and flattering, why on earth are they not on a percentage of suits in ALL sizes, hmm?

    and if this post wasn’t already awesome enough, i have now been introduced to the glory that is ‘love your peaches’. the whole swimwear section is full of pictures of women who are far too large to be wearing such things according to Teh Fashion Lawmakers absolutely ROCKING those bikinis. wow.

  35. sweetmachine: “On that note, if any Shapelings have recommendations for bikinis/tankinis/swimsuits of any kind that can support a Rack of Doom, I’d appreciate recommendations. ”

    Figleaves.com has a good selection in bra-sized bikini tops. I bought a Panache bandeau bikini top that totally supports my Rack-of-Doom and has cute little matching boyshort bottoms (unfortunately I bought it on Bravissimo.com and I don’t think Figleaves has it). Interestingly, I bought it after becoming a Shapeling. I did have a bikini for my honeymoon, which the husband loved, but I was too self-conscious to ever wear it again. He’s pretty stoked that I’ve worked up the nerve to buy a bikini for this summer. I credit the lovely and talented women here. Awesome post.

  36. I can’t recommend them per se since I haven’t been willing to drop the cash for a “nice” bathing suit, but I noticed Athleta has bra-sized swimsuits in the last catalog they sent me, specifically for larger cup sizes (I was looking for a B and they start the bra-sized ones at a C). I would think/hope that they would have some functional stuff, but who knows.

    Marina, this is an amazing post. I had never thought of doing the majority of the exercises, and I especially love the one where you develop an awareness of your comfort of discomfort while sitting and adjust accordingly. Such a great way to be aware of as well as care for your body. Thank you for this.

  37. Oh, and I forgot to add, like others on the thread, I am totally considering getting myself a bikini for this summer. I am not the size that I arbitrarily decided years ago that I would have to be in order to wear one (that is, a size that I have never been in my life since I stopped growing, so that was kind of a stupid bar to set), but who cares. I’m thinking maybe one of the Esther Williams ones. I do prefer something with a little more coverage and support up top, because I think falling out of a lesser top would be a real hazard in my case.

  38. And an annoying triple-post to explain myself… I didn’t make an actual link to the Esther Williams suits because although I love the suits in general, I discovered she doesn’t make a plus-size bikini–only tankinis–and I’m pissed about that, so bleah.

  39. I loved this post, but I have to say, I have never been able to successfully wear a bikini, even when I was thinner. Why? Every time I dove, or swam, or even just stood up too quickly, the girls would make a run for it. I got tired of flashing everyone near me, so I switched to the athletic suits, which (mostly) reign in my rack of doom. It’s too bad, though, because I look fabulous in my underwear, so I would look fabulous in a bikini, too.

  40. A very inspiring post, although I am so not there yet. In my head I’m saying “yeah, but, my boyfriend will see my stomach rolls [hello, he’s seen them before and never minded!] and my sisters are skinny and my dad hates fat so I can’t possibly do this.” I guess that is why I should do the exercises.

    I am on the lookout for a good swim suit that doesn’t have ties around the neck. My chest is huge and all a halter top does is pull on my neck. I usually have to modify my suits by sewing the neck ties onto the back.

    Now I want a bikini with a ruffle on the bum and a good supportive top.

  41. I am actually slightly annoyed that now that I have a great swimsuit I’m psyched to wear… the camp I’m going to this summer has a nudist beach, so if I wear a swimsuit I might get stared at.
    Which, OK, that’s why I bought the red polka-dot one, but still.

    I love this article. It almost made me cry. I have never been comfortable in swimsuits, not because of my fat but because I actually do feel that they display areas of the body that actually should be private. It’s been hard to find a suit that doesn’t trigger that weird feeling in me like I’m just too naked.

    But everyone with doomracks, go to Figleaves, look up Freya, and see what you can find there. I was wearing a 34G but I’m up to a 32J now, so I’ll be looking into a new bikini top myself. (I don’t mind them being big, I just wish they’d make up their minds about *how* big.)

  42. I knew this was the time of year to try to get this article out there in the fatosphere, because it’s the time of year when people start thinking about it, and going through their own processes.

    Someone asked up above where Deidra got her swimsuit, and I will check, but I know for a fact that she probably has at least 15-20 different bikini sets and maybe one is from Love Your Peaches. Deeds is the motherfuckin’ QUEEN of adapting what’s out there to fit her body, which may mean sewing some extra straps on the back, or getting her tailor to add a bit of fabric to the cups, or hell, just turning the bottoms around so there’s enough coverage of her belly (and less on her butt!).

    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. I specifically set up the first line to be, ” if you’re wearing a one-piece, but want to get into a two piece…” sort of thing. This is for people who want it, but have been feeling like they need to wait (FJ, could you link this to the Fantasy of Being Thin piece?).

    So if you don’t like being that exposed, or are sufficiently active in your suit that bikini malfunctions would be inevitable, or are really doing fine with your tankini, thanks, or don’t want to wear a Two-Piece Tool of the Man, that is totally okay by me! I do think the exercises are interesting to do, in and of themselves, but this is not a chlorine-soaked, flimsy stick to beat your fattie selves over the head with. Just another approach to summer fatshion.

    (Oh, and thank you for kind comments. This is my first published piece in at least five years, not counting Big Moves promo materials or grant applications, and it felt really good to do.)

  43. Congratulations on a well written article. I’m a career fitness coach in Hollywood, and you hit the nail on the head. Body imagery—visualization, etc., is really the key behind the physical transformation.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

    [wipes away tears]

    I just had to approve this one for the giggles. A new pinnacle of not-getting-it has been reached!

  44. Whoa! Did I just zoom by that one earlier, or did FJ just add that in? Because YES, that is fuckin’ hilarious.

    Mental transformation is what I’m talking about, and that only. That has worth in and of itself. If any physical transformation happens anywhere, I’m hoping that it’s in the way we move and rest and show off our bodies, of all sizes, because focusing on transforming the physical body is the sure way back to hating it, hiding it, and definitely not enjoying an outing to the beach.

  45. I just approved it — it was stuck in moderation. And normally I’d delete links to a fitness blog or whatever it is, but I thought the profound density was worth a giggle.

  46. Robotitron, just like any other thing you’ve never done before or haven’t done for a long time, going out in public in a swimsuit can be scary. Swimsuits are just so LOADED with cultural baggage. But going with a friend IS a lot easier and going to something like water aerobics might help as well because you’ll be active and everyone will be looking at the instructor.

    Ell, I am in love with the idea of a ruffle butt bikini bottom now.

  47. “…where the skirt actually looks like a style element instead of a shame panel…”

    word.
    There are some keyy-UTE swimsuits out there now in all different styles and sizes! Whoever invented the TANKINI should get a nobel prize, IMO *hahaha!* It’s like a….training bikini! Yes! A training bikini for those of us who aren’t used to baring so much flesh at swim-time. I’m currently shopping for swimwear and hadn’t even considered a full-on BIKINI until I read this. Mmmmmmaaaayyyyybbeee……
    * ; )

  48. But I never, ever in a million years would have realized there is no law on who can wear a bikini and who can’t until it was spelled out for me. And seriously, what a concept. After YEARS of being brainwashed into thinking there are all these “clothing laws” for fat girls (and skinny girls, and tall/short girls, and girls with big/small boobs, and whatever), it is wonderfully refreshing to be reminded that the only actual clothing laws involve not waving your naked crotch and boobs around in public.

    Absolutely. I blame magazines like Glamour that have all those “DOs and DON’Ts,” because it seems like all the “DON’Ts” boil down to “DON’T be fat.” Blerg.

    Thanks so much for this post, Marina. I just bought an adorable and colorful tankini from Land’s End (or however it’s punctuated). It’s a bright blue floral, with super-supportive underwire. I’m going to Aruba in August for a wedding, and I can’t WAIT to stroll around in my bathing suit, enjoying drinks with umbrellas in them.

  49. Alyson, excellent point on the bathroom issue! I always HATED wrestling a wet one-piece off my body in the bathroom stall (and the stall was always too tiny to start with), and this is the number one reason I’m never going back to a one-piece, with the possible exception of a lap-swimming suit (I’ve just discovered the pool at my gym).

    fillyjonk, that comment was hilarious. I kept watching and scrolling to see when somebody was going to point out the fail. :D

  50. Gah. “Two-Piece Tool of the Man” indeed. I’m glad bigmovesbabe added that postscript, because I was starting to think there was something wrong with me. In all honesty, I’d feel more comfortable naked than in a bikini– it’s just too femme for me. I’m kind of a butch straight girl, and I’ve never been paricularly inhibited about being naked no matter what size I’ve been. It’s just flesh – naked, bikini’d or othewise! I’ve never understood the hysteria about it. The more we look at it and get used to it in all its splendid variations, the better.

  51. I’ve been doing that for years. I hate when I hear a woman say that she can’t be seen in a swimsuit. If they make swimsuits in her size, then she can wear one. I hear women that are tiny complain about being unable to wear a swimsuit. I felt that way when I was younger. It’s true. When you get older, you get wiser. I’m going to flaunt what I have.

  52. This is so awesome. I just stumbled across a bikini I purchased several years ago but never worked up the nerve to wear. I tried it on and it surprisingly fits, but all I could focus on was what I dislike about my exposed torso. If I start the exercises now, I should be ready (I hope) for the July 4th pool party I’m invited to!

  53. I happen to love the little swim skirt (and I mean the little one) because it means the whole bikini-shaving/waxing/whatever issue is moot. I don’t wear it to cover my ass; it’s purely to avoid razor burn. I love the tankini, myself. and have been wearing them for years; I like the little peek-a-boo belly button, and I rock the rack every chance I get, but I have to say, I think it would be an excellent and positive way to mess with my own mind to find a bikini I could ease myself into ease with, as it were. My issue, and this happens with panties, is that I can’t find a brief that is substantial enough to stay on my hips and not be rolled down by my bottom bubble, but if I wear a bikini bottom under my belly, it feels like I’m going to lose my drawers!

  54. Like maewyn, I have gone out and strutted my very fat self in a bright red swimsuit and said nuts to anybody who doesn’t like it. I wear a two-piece rather than a bikini (for personal modesty reasons, not body issues), but the attitude is the same, believe me!

    If it makes anybody more apt to give the bikini a shot: I live in Southern California, the World Capital for Women’s Body Image Issues, and I’ve never once gotten any crap about my swimwear. Not a comment, not a hoot, not even many stares.

    Which is not to say it won’t and hasn’t happened to other fat babes in small swimsuits, but it may not be as bad as you expect. (Perhaps the fatphobes realize, if only dimly, that if I gave a rat’s whatever about what fatphobes think, I wouldn’t be wearing that swimsuit?)

  55. Wow, I had no idea so many people actually *liked* bikinis! Personally, even if I had ever been “thin enough to wear one” (whatever the hell that means…), I just…no. I have a dark avocado green faille Land’s End halter-top one-piece that’s cut very modestly in the leg openings, so between the cut and the color it’s a kind of 50s look, stays put, is comfy, and that’s IT for me and bathing suits. If I were a size 0, I would feel the exact same way.

    But hey, more power to you if a bikini’s what feels comfortable!

  56. I tend to get stuck thinking “none of these fit me right, so there must be something wrong with my body.” Thanks to everyone for the links and general swim wear discussion. Perhaps if I found something that actually fit right, I’d be (slightly) less prone to be embarrassed in a swimsuit. Even if I never wear a bikini, thought exercises like this one go a long way to diminishing the shame of GASP showing fat in public.

    And like several people have said, I hate that when you want to shop for swim suits, you have to wade through all of the “minimizing” crap. Swim suits are small relative to anyone’s body. It’s OK if your body’s showing. “Shame panels,” indeed!

    Kristie: I’m with you on the whole razor burn avoidance tactic. I much prefer the low leg swim bottoms to the high cut ones. I have a cute swim dress that I love, but it’s not very useful for swimming- too much fabric.

  57. This is an awesome post.
    The funny thing is that as a plus-sized lady on bottom but not on top, I’ve only ever been able to wear bikinis, so I’ve already had to do this! :)
    It’s pretty sweet to strut in your body on the beach in a bikini.

  58. LOVE THIS POST!
    That said, ladies, please wear cheeky accessories with said bikinis. Nothing like a woman whose got the vava-voom AND a hat that’s too cool for the school pool. Same for funky sandals, some glass bead jewelry, etc.

  59. Does every move have to be sexy?

    Depends on what you mean by sexy. Smart is sexy. Confident is sexy. Comfort in your body is sexy. If you have looked at the Kama Sutra or (gasp!) sex sites, you’ll find positions that wouldn’t appear at first to be sexy. They look more like pretzel-people feats of athleticism. There are also web sites (I’m told, hee hee) that show every sort of activity you can imagine, and some you can’t, from playing horsie to eating to excreting.

    This tells us one big, important thing: everyone has a different concept of sexy, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with striking a pose or having a sizzling pout or bedroom eyes, much less a six-pack gut and an undimpled behind. A frank, direct look is sexy. Looking at people and focusing on their lushness of body, the way they move, is sexy, as in “Hey, you’re looking at me like _that,_ again, heh heh.”

    It all boils down to this: you’re sexy all the time. Period. You’re a human being with a mind and a body. Now that’s sexy.

  60. I just found this post and I wanted to say, I am totally stealing this plan. I have recently stopped shaving (…anything) and am going to need a bit of a boost to get comfortable displaying my furry pits in public.

  61. I’m really more of a one-piece or tri-suit girl (bikinis and lap swimming don’t mix) but I’ll have to keep this in mind for the vacation I’m taking this summer. :)

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