Friday fluff: Fall fashion

Well, up here in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s about to officially become autumn. Fall is my favorite season, fashion-wise, because it allows you to wear almost any item of clothing (except maybe parkas) so long as you’re willing to layer. And as someone who loves jackets, scarves, socks, and tights, I appreciate weather cool enough to let me wear them, but not so cold that I have to wear every single item I own just to keep my toes from going numb.

Right now I’m having fall shoe lust after a summer of wearing mostly sandals and my beloved Merrells (which it turns out are worn through so I’m totally justified in replacing them, right? Right?) — I want boots and flats and mary janes and just about anything I can get my hands on. Fantasy shoe shopping is seriously occupying way too much of my brainspace right now.

What’s your favorite part of fall fashion? What are you looking forward to wearing once the weather turns? What shoe goes best with a cup of hot cider? Discuss!

Must-reads on fat visibility, fashion, and racist imagery

If you don’t read NYLON or aren’t an obsessive Gossip fan, you might (like me) have missed a recent photoshoot with fat icon Beth Ditto that used racist imagery. Threadbared has a spot-on analysis of what’s so troubling about the image, which you can see reproduced in the post:

The housekeeper is meant to be invisible, working unobtrusively around the perceptual periphery of the guest, and this scene is no exception. She is part of the set dressing, in which Ditto’s bright and hard-edged New Wave styling intrudes to asserts itself as distinct, as foreground. This blandness, this generic and ordinary landscape, the photograph suggests, is not Ditto’s natural habitat. By implication, it is the housekeeper’s.

Tara at Fatshionista follows up by asking what we do when one of the vanishingly few icons of fat acceptance fuck up so deeply:

Is it “ok” to give fat media icons a little more leeway because there are so few of them? Is the willingness to lower the bar proof that the FA movement isn’t taking race and the racism in our community seriously? How do we hold a media icon accountable for their actions when we can’t always engage or interact with them?

Both posts engage in excellent analysis and ask urgent questions about the intersection of antiracism and fat acceptance; please check them out.

ETA: Comments that claim that the racism of this photoshoot is “just one interpretation” will not be approved because they give me a stabby pain behind my eyes.

Igigi Bubble-Hem Dress: Love It or Hate It?

Shapelings, I need a ruling on this dress. Do we love it or hate it?

I’ve never been much of a fan of bubble hems, but I love the color and like the cut. (It’s one of those that could totally go either way on my body, but I think it would work.) And the bubble isn’t obnoxiously bubbly. And there are pockets, which is pretty awesome, except I fear they’d fall too low on me to be worth it.

Thoughts?

ETA: WTF is up with those shoes? They’re fine by themselves, but really not working for me with the dress.

Wedding attire without the commitment

It’s June, which means it’s wedding season, which means that every form of media apparently needs to start featuring All Weddings All The Time. I feel like it’s a little better this year, perhaps because there have been actually newsworthy marriage-related developments. Still, ’tis the season for meaningless wedding-based fluff pieces, and who am I to buck the trend? If you’re utterly bored by heteronormativity, you might want to look away now.

Actually, I’m going to buck the trend a little bit, because I want to talk about something that’s actually valuable: keeping your fat ass out of a bridal store. While I know intellectually that the bridal-gown-wearing world teems with sweet friendly boutique owners who would no sooner mock your weight than put registry information on an invitation, the truth is that wedding gown shopping is an odyssey of humiliation even for most thin brides. The culture of being a bride (at least in the Western white-gown context) centers around a few rather odious principles: magnifying your flaws, believing that you should fit clothes rather than vice versa, endorsing a single image of acceptable beauty, and marginalizing anyone who wears a plus size (particularly those who wear above a 20 or 22 — many bridal lines only go up to 24, and bridal sizes run smaller than street sizes). The likelihood is that you won’t even be able to try anything on, but will have to hold the dress up to yourself or stuff part of yourself in it while clerks click their tongues. The experience would be trying even to the staunchest fat activist.

You can go to David’s Bridal, which at least will probably have something you can try on, but from what I’ve heard you still have a 50% chance of being mistreated. There’s also Sydney’s Closet for the princessy stuff, but that’s online-only; you don’t get to try anything on, and you can’t return it if you make the wrong choice. Of course, there’s always the option of going to a seamstress, and you can even use the internet to find custom-made gear. I haven’t yet gotten up the scratch for one of her amazing skirts, but Vancouver designer Jane Bonbon offers a lovely, slightly bohemian wedding dress that can be custom-sized (and she’s generally happy to tweak her designs for you). UK-based Rivendell Bridal makes custom gowns that make me wish I were the kind of person who would wear that kind of gown (they’re priced accordingly, too). If you’re more punk/funky, Peach Berserk only goes up to XL in her regular sizes of custom-silkscreened frocks, but can do custom sizing above that. (A friend told me she was unimpressed with the actual merchandise, but she may just have been trying to make me feel better about not discovering Peach Berserk before making other arrangements for my dress.) But with all these options, there’s an element of uncertainty. What if you don’t like what you get? What if you change your mind? What if you just don’t feel like giving your measurements to a stranger on the internet, even one as personally lovely as Jane Bonbon?

Thankfully, there’s the sartorial standby for fat women who’ve been run out of brick-and-mortar stores: the returnable online purchase. Below the fold are some wedding outfits, from classic to courthouse, based around dresses (and one pants suit) that can be bought online and returned if they don’t work on you, thus obviating the need to set foot in a bridal store. With some of them you have to be pretty snappy on your return, but you can handle that. I’ve paired each with a shoe that accommodates a W or WW foot (mostly from Zappos — that’s the best place I know of to get a good selection of wide shoes), and a few accessories (mostly from Etsy) to give you ideas. I tried to keep everything reasonably priced, not just for wedding clothes but for clothes in general (though there are some exceptions). The purpose of the little magazine spreads is not to impose my stylistic choices on you, of course, but to express the fatshion potential of no-hassle, off-the-rack, returnable dresses.

Remember: you can always ditch the aspects of a wedding that make you stressed or in any way put you in a negative place about yourself and your body. This is true of any party (hell, any undertaking), but the wedding industry is designed to enhance your self-recrimination power to near-superhuman levels. Don’t buy in. There’s no rule book in the world that says you have to submit to the stink-eye from bridal shop owners; yeah, dress shopping is a bonding experience for some, but who says that your fun shopping-with-the-girls expedition can’t be for shoes or jewelry? Just because you’re going the heteronormative route doesn’t mean you have to let the Wedding Industrial Complex stomp all over your carefully cultivated self-esteem.

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Review: More Big Girl Knits

We haven’t talked a whole lot about crafting and fat in the past, but I know we have some crafty Shapelings out there! (Has anyone knit or crocheted an Adipose cell yet?) I’m an obsessive knitter myself (though the level of obsession ratchets up and down depending on my school schedule), and I’ve been delighted at the explosion of knitting resources in the last several years, especially as the knitting world as a whole gets more conscious about providing a large range of sizes for clothing patterns. Amy R. Singer and Jillian Moreno of my fave online knitting mag, Knitty, did an awesome service to fat knitters (and really, anyone interested in customizing patterns for curvy bodies) with their 2006 book Big Girl Knits; now the sequel, More Big Girl Knits, brings us cute patterns, practical shaping advice, and a healthy dose of body positivity.

More Big Girl KnitsLet’s focus on that last point first. Don’t be fooled by the euphemistic “big girl” and “curvy” on the cover: this is a fat-positive book. The introduction is called (in giant unapologetic letters) “We’re Still Fat & We’re Still Knitting.” All the models appear to wear honest to god plus sizes; there’s none of that “I’m a size 2 model but we’ll pretend I wear a 14 for this photo shoot” nonsense certain plus-size retailers trade in. I especially love that the little cartoons used to illustrate points about shaping (among other things) are variously shaped fat women, including women of color. More Big Girl Knits is unapologetically a book for fat women that does not lament fat, pay lip service to dieting, or instruct readers to hide their bodies. For that aspect alone, it wins the Shapely Prose Seal of Approval (which, uh, we totally have) as far as I’m concerned.

The really great thing about this book, though, is the application of fat acceptance principles to help you get the most out of your knitting. Even if you felt meh on every single pattern in the book (which I don’t imagine you will), the introductory chapters on fit, color, texture, and paneling will be useful enough to warrant a spot in your knitting library. Among the eminently practical features: a highly detailed chart for your measurements, a yarn yardage chart for sweaters from chest size 40″ to 58″, and a worksheet to help you design side panels to widen a too-narrow sweater (for detailed instructions on short rows and waist shaping, check out the original Big Girl Knits). There’s even a “plain vanilla” sweater pattern, complete with worksheets and blank spaces in the pattern for you to write your own measurements and stitch counts, which will let you end up with a scoopneck, stockinette, worsted weight sweater with waist shaping. The focus here (as Singer and Moreno write) is on getting to know your actual body, “not the pre-baby, pre-menopause, pre-metabolism-slowdown body you have in your mind. Not the body that used to be or is gonna be cute and sexy at some point in the future” — not, in other words, your fantasy body that will somehow magically make you a master knitter instantly. Instead, learning how to adapt your knitting to the body you actually have (instead of the other way around) is going to make you love your knitting even more.

As you can no doubt tell, I am pretty damn excited about the non-pattern parts of this book. I certainly could have used it a few years ago when I first started knitting sweaters, and I’m definitely going to incorporate some of the ideas and tips into my knitting from now on. So let’s talk patterns. The good news is, there’s a fair variety of styles and shapes to choose from. I’m going to admit this right up front: I don’t like all the patterns. Several of them are too fussy for my taste (including two that are repeats from Knitty), with flowers or bobbles or ruffles that I just don’t dig. However, I can totally see other knitters with different personal styles loving them, and there are sleeker patterns, too — like just about any knitting book, no one knitter is going to want to knit every single thing. The ones I really like are the Twisted Pullover (a v-neck pullover with vertical lines — this is the one on the cover above); the No-Gap Wrap Pullover (a faux wrap pullover); and the Orange Smoothie Tank (a wrap tank with a plunge neckline and vertical eyelets below the bustline — so cute!). Most of the patterns, as you might imagine, are sweaters, but there are also some accessory patterns, including two shawls, a chunky scarf, two bags, and two sock patterns designed with larger ankles/calves in mind. The patterns are all clearly laid out and seem like they’ll be relatively easy to follow (but I haven’t tried any of them yet, so I can’t vouch for that!).

A few caveats:

1. This is not a book for beginners; it assumes you already know how to knit, read patterns and charts, and work various intermediate-to-advanced stitch patterns. To me, this book reads like a great intermediate book: if you have been thinking about knitting a sweater but want a pattern that is going to look awesome on a figure that’s underrepresented by mainstream designs, or if you have experience adapting patterns but want some guidance on some of that painstaking math, this book will be perfect for you. If you’re still learning how to do stitches and the thought of making a whole sweater seems hopelessly far away, then you might grab this now and stick it on your knitting shelf for a few months from now when you’re feeling more adventurous.

2. The patterns here are grouped by a system that I find theoretically charming but practically a bit confusing. The book emphasizes the three Bs — boobs, belly, and butt — and asks you to identify your most “bodacious” part(s). Each pattern has a notation for the B(s) that it works best with; some are noted for just one, others for all three. What I haven’t totally figured out is what it means to “work best” with a certain B; it’s meant to be a body-positive way to indicate flattering fits, but the pattern descriptions don’t always let you know *why* a particular B is featured. For instance, there’s a gorgeous double-breasted cardigan that is marked for Belly and Butt but *not* for Boobs; I assume that that’s because the double-breastedness will add bulk to the chest, but, frustratingly, there is no full-length photo of the sweater from the front (only a profile and a back view), so I can’t even see the Boobs on this one. (Amy R. Singer has put this shot up on Flickr, but it’s not included in the book.) It’s possible that I’m either a) overthinking or b) dense, but I don’t quite understand the 3 Bs. (It doesn’t help that the same (beautiful, happy!) models are used for different Bs — reminding me of my YM reading days when the “hide your problem spots” features would use one impossibly thin model for all supposed “flaws,” even the ones that contradicted each other, like big chest and flat chest.)

3. The cover underneath the dust jacket is cheerfully striped like a circus awning, but it makes my head swim. Seriously, I’m getting visual disturbances just looking at it. I love stripy as much as the next knitter, but I recommend you save the dust jacket!

So, to sum this all up: despite some quibbles, I highly recommend More Big Girl Knits to all fat knitters and even to not-so-fat ones who have to do some math to get their curves into standard patterns. You’re sure to find at least a couple patterns that you’ll itch to start knitting, but the introductory chapters are the indispensable parts. Since this book came out a couple months ago, you can already see some FOs and WIPs from faster hands than mine over at Ravelry (NB: Ravelry links require login). I can’t wait to see more!

What are your favorite knitting patterns for fat or curvy bodies? Have you knit anything from the original Big Girl Knits? Let us know in comments!

Edit: Here’s a Ravelry link to some knits from the first Big Girl Knits book. And some Flickr links for those of you who are not on Ravelry.

Guest Blogger Heather Bailey: Short Haircuts for Fat People

Yes, folks, it’s even more on hair! Shapeling Heather Bailey recently sent us the story of her latest haircut, and it was too good not to post. –Kate

My hairstylist for the last three years has been a guy who’s a bit of a wunderkind stylist in this town, awesome with the shears. The problem started when I came to him last summer wanting to razor off my shoulder length hair to pixie, and he flat out refused. He said, “I don’t think that would be right for your face.” What he meant was: “You’re too fat for a pixie cut.” So I conceded and got a chin-length shortcut, feeling a little ashamed that I couldn’t pull off a pixie (a professional said so!). I believed him and told myself, yeah, I need this bit of bang covering half my face to frame it properly.

A few months ago, I got my dream job working in a library, where I am frequently found pushing around 100 lb carts of books, doing deep knee bends and reaching high to shelve things, lifting tubs of books to and fro. And guess what? That fucking hair, it just kept getting in my face and generally annoying the hell out of me. I started keeping it in a constant ponytail and then I was like, fuck this. I picked a different hairstylist. It turns out that she has also got skillz, double-mad. Also, when I showed her the pixie I wanted, she immediately said, “That will look so awesome on you. You have great features to show off.”

Fuck me, I’ve been going to a stylist making me crazy with pixie-cut fear for the last 12 months, and now I find out that it was him, not me, all along? And that with longer hair, I look the same size as with short hair (fat, fat)? And now that I got the cut, I have gotten several thousand compliments from stray library patrons who never spoke to me before? Apparently, I have really great glasses, amazing eyes, a lovely neck, a fantastic outfit, good posture, and one charming and elderly patron thinks that I am “just beautiful!” Plus, I am playing more with makeup and styles for my new hair, and I am generally in love with the confidence it gives me.

I’m a relative newbie to FA, but I consider myself pretty solid in the “diets don’t work, and Weight Watchers is a diet” mentality. I dress well, take care of myself with exercise, relaxation and enjoying the food I eat. I don’t think badly of my fat. I stand up for my body when others put it down. I found a doctor who asks me my habits rather than my weight to determine my health level. But this one area tripped me up: I believed that hair can magically make you look fatter/thinner and I was afraid of that. We are what we are, and if our culture wants us to “blend in” and feel that we have to hide the fat bits on our hips, thighs, faces – well, it’s up to us to tell them we’re not obligated to make them feel better by feeling bad about ourselves, and we aren’t going to disappear anything about ourselves.

The moral of the story is, all those dos & don’ts of the fat girl fashion & beauty diktat? Add up to one big don’t. Don’t listen.

UK Readers: Did You See this Crap?

So a couple of readers have sent me links to articles about a recent episode of this BBC show, Mary, Queen of Shops, in which host Mary Portas goes to visit struggling shop owners to tell them why their businesses are tanking.

The other night, the subject was a plus-size boutique — like LeeLee’s Valise or Vive la Femme or Maximum Woman or The Voluptuous Vixen. Except really, really, really not.

This week Mary Portas is in Ascot, Berkshire, one of the richest areas in the country with lots of wealthy ladies who lunch and shop.

They just don’t shop in Blinkz, and who the hell can blame them? The boutique caters for the curvier woman, but the size 10 owner Amanda is, says Mary, “size-ist”, referring to her customers as huge, sad, sweaty, misshapen bouncy castles.

Wow.

Says the BBC site:

Mary is shocked by Amanda’s attitude to her plus-size customers, with the shop full of dowdy, baggy, unflattering clothes that most people, whatever their size, wouldn’t be seen dead in. As a result, nothing is selling and the business is in crisis.

Gee, ya think?

I am just fucking dumbfounded by this (and I desperately want to see the episode). I mean, I guess I know there are still sizeist idiots behind a lot of plus-size clothing retailers, given how much frumpy, fugly shit remains available to us, but having experienced LeeLee’s and Vive la Femme (and their lovely owners) firsthand, I just can’t reconcile “fancy fatty boutique” with “crass, idiotic attempt to tap a market you don’t remotely understand or respect.” Those stores are such labors of love for Lisa and Stephanie, respectively, it would never have occurred to me that someone would try a similar business concept without actually giving a damn about her customers.

The only clip I could find online was this little bit where awesome plus-size designer Anna Scholz gives Mary and Amanda a fashion show. It’s not great quality, but check out Amanda’s face when she says, “They actually look… slimmer with the more fitted things.” And again I ask, GEE, YA THINK? I mean, I know a lot of women don’t realize that oversized clothing actually makes them look bigger*, but to own a boutique and not comprehend this basic fact (which, not for nuthin’, applies to women of all sizes)? The hell?

You know, very little in the way of sizeism makes my jaw drop anymore, but for some reason, this totally did. I’m just stunned to see such a blatant example of what other retailers carry off a little more subtly: a business model that purports to serve fat women without treating them as human beings who deserve the same attention, quality, or respect as any other customers. A business model that assumes we poor, pathetic bouncy castles will buy whatever shit they offer us, because we have no self-esteem and few other options.

And frankly, though I’d be happy to see more Anna Scholz dresses out in the world, I hope Amanda Collins learned nothing from this. I hope the publicity she got from being on the show backfires completely, and no fat woman in the UK ever gives her another dime. I hope her business goes under. And I hope she feels like shit about it for the rest of her life. I am just that appalled by her, and just that petty.

*Looking bigger is not, of course, an intrinsically bad thing, and it’s entirely possible to rock the shapeless, if that’s what you’re intending to do. If it’s not what you’re intending to do, however? A fucking plus-size boutique owner ought to be able to help you understand what flatters your shape, for cry-eye.

Fatshion, breaking the rules

Let’s talk about trying things on.

Yes, with plus size shopping, it’s kind of a bear. A lot of places only do mail order, or (like Old Navy) they only do mail order for you, you moocow. If every place were like Zappos, it’d be one thing, but they’re not. Shipping things around is expensive, and you never get that shipping money back. Besides, if you have a pretty good idea what looks good on you, why would you bother going outside your comfort zone?

Well, obviously if shipping costs are prohibitive for you, you shouldn’t risk it. But I’m finding that even at my advanced age, I can be completely surprised by what ends up working and what doesn’t. Case in point: I needed a fancy dress for a work function. I’ve always liked Kiyonna’s take on the LBD, but figured it would never work on me. See, I’ve got some rules — not Cosmo-style “never wear horizontal stripes” type rules (I totally do), but personal guidelines that I’ve developed over many years of wearing clothes. A few years ago I swore off V-necks in favor of scoops, on the theory that V-necks make me look like Agatha Trunchbull. The empire waist, I reasoned, is distracting in combination with my stick-out belly, in a way that’s likely to engender awkward questions. And I figured that a straight skirt would make it impossible for people to tear their eyes away from the lumpiness of my hips. I don’t need clothes to distract from my fat or the way my body is shaped; I don’t go in for that “camouflage,” “draw attention away,” “hide figure flaws” bullshit. But my cardinal rule is this: I want people to say either “what a vivacious girl” or “what a pretty outfit.” If what they’re saying is “what lumpy hips,” I’ve failed. I don’t need to hide my hips, but neither do I want them to be the star of the show. That’s my role.

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Friday Fluff: Fat skirts

I want to draw everyone’s attention to this post by our advice columnist ally, the spectacular Miss Conduct, at whose dinner parties I would dearly love to be a fly on the wall. (I had an advice-columnist crush on Miss Conduct even before I found out that her husband publishes my beloved Annals of Improbable Research.) Miss Conduct enjoins her readers to make sure that their “fat clothes” are as pretty as their “thin clothes”:

Ladies, get yourselves some pretty fat skirts, or fat pants. We all have weight fluctuations, due to our monthly cycles, or work or family busy-ness that makes it hard to exercise and easy to rely on takeout, or stress that drives us to the comforting arms of potato chips or chocolate, or travel adventures that make calorie-counting absurdly inappropriate. Don’t punish those times when you’re over your set point with hideous clothes that you think will “motivate” you to starve on broccoli and fake diet drinks until you’re back to where you want to be. It won’t work. Self-denigration is a stunningly inefficient route to motivation.

I disagree with Miss C.’s assertion in the post that “I need to lose 10 pounds” is an adequate shorthand for “I need to do the things that will, if I do them, make me happier and more energetic and oh, by the way, lead to me losing 10 pounds” — ideally, perhaps, but in a diet-happy culture that equates fat with health, I believe it’s dangerous to get sloppy about our terminology. When you say “I need to lose 10 pounds,” you may truly mean “I need to pick up my healthiest habits again,” but plenty of people say “I need to get healthy” meaning “I need to, at any cost, lose 10 pounds.” It behooves us to be precise if we’re going to break that dangerous association.

But I certainly agree with her that we should clothe ourselves as beautifully as possible at every weight.  I’m dealing with this issue from the flip side right now — I had some great clothes when I was above my set range that no longer fit now that I’m off Lexapro and back to my regular size. Now I’m left with old clothes that are ratty, and less-old clothes that are too big (and sometimes ratty). This finally reached crisis level when my skirt fell off while I was walking the other day — no joke! — and I’ve been buying clothes from Target.com like crazy, but it’s a rather lonely and only intermittently successful endeavor, nothing like going shopping with a bunch of fatties. So in the interest of pretty fat skirts, for Shapelings of all sizes, let’s have a virtual shopping trip! Show us your favorite piece of clothing (skirt or otherwise) in a plus size that’s available for sale online right now. If you can, introduce us to a new store. If you can’t, this is a good time to check out centralized shopping sites like Beauty Plus Power and This Lush Life, or look over the store reviews on Fatshionista.com. Then come back here and show us what you’re craving!

My personal obsession, just to get you started, is actually a skirt. I’ve been itching to buy this amazing skirt from Fashion Overdose for literally months — how great would that look with my knee-high platform boots? I’ve been convincing myself it costs too much, but I think I’m actually gonna do it, unless of course you guys fall just as deeply in love as I am, and buy it out before I get a chance.

Bonus item: I bought this swimsuit at Lee Lee’s last week, and I wish I hadn’t just looked it up because it turns out I paid more for it than I would have online, but it is a hell of a swimsuit.

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.

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