Let's face it: We live in a world that tells people it's only OK to bare your bod if your dress size is in the single digits and if your limbs don't show cellulite. This means, along with the perennial summer heat, an annual wave of body negativity and fat-shaming for many — especially for women and feminine-identified people.
Adhering to a healthy lifestyle is one thing, but the current definition of a "bikini body" has little to do with health and a lot to do with perpetuating one very specific, very difficult to attain standard of beauty. A bikini body should be a body wearing a bikini. Period.
In an encouraging sign, however, this mainstream attitude has inspired an inspirational backlash of its own as women around the country have begun taking to social media and throwing their fists in the air. They are displaying their curvaceous swimsuit-ready bodies as a proud challenge to western culture's negative perceptions of bodies in swimwear — all while celebrating the beauty they very much exude.
Stina Scott, who manages the Fatshion Peepshow blog, told Mic that the site's "101 Body Positive Bikini Babes" project began as a way for women join others in celebration of their bodies, and for women show themselves and others that they are not obligated to cover up.
"What you put on your body should make you feel confident, beautiful and sexy, and it isn't anyone elses' business. It took me a long time to learn that society shouldn't dictate what's acceptable for anyone," she said. "It's amazing feeling when you realize that, internalize it, and grow to accept it and wear whatever you want to wear rather than what society says you should."
Scott drew even more inspiration from seeing many body-positive women on social media hashtags such as #fatkini. As Colorlines reports, the movement features hundreds of women proudly donning swimsuits, combating fat- and body-shaming while loving the skin they're in.
"What I want women to realize is that if your body makes someone uncomfortable, it's because there's something wrong with them, not with you," Scott said. "Maybe if we can all get to a point where we can stop listening to the negativity, stop covering up to make others comfortable, and just wear what we love and what we find comfortable, the negative people will get tired and go home."
And by fearlessly showing their bikini bods for the whole world to see, these women are sending a strong message to anyone who would ever dare put them down.
Here are of few of these fierce "fatkini" model's stories:
I'm over 500 pounds and a size 34/36. This past weekend was the first time I rocked a bikini (in public)! Top is from Swimsuits4All and bottoms are Woman Within.
2. Southern Delight Barbie
When I wear a bikini I feel very confident, I have no body shame whatsoever when it comes to showing off my curves, and I even feel sexy and I learned at the end of the day, bikinis aren't meant for size 0's anymore!
Wearing a bikini makes me feel fearless and sexy. I never thought I'd be a beach bunny but look at me now.
Never in a million years did I think I'd ever see myself in a bikini. When I took this photo I didn't really have to many intentions on posting it publicly but after awhile I just said 'Why the hell not?' I was so blown away at the amount of love and support I got, not even just from other luscious ladies but people who practically came out of the woodwork just to say how awesome I was and how much they loved the fatkini. I was amazed, I felt amazing. It was such an empowering turn out that I never expected.
My bikini doesn't make me feel anything in particular or special ... just as I wouldn't suppose a 'normal' size person is overjoyed to throw one on. It's practical and comfortable for playing with the kids, and that's the message I want them to understand: being comfortable!
I made this out of a one piece suit that was too short for my long torso. I really love how it turned out. I've always been pretty confident about my body but this is definitely the sexiest I've ever felt in a bathing suit.
Be happy! Be curvy! Wear a bikini! Live like you're gorgeous (because you are) and carpe diem no matter what your size!
Wearing a fatkini makes me feel like there is hope. That as a fat woman I am allowed to be seen, to take up space, to dress however I please. That being fat is not a sentence to be ashamed and miserable and that we, as fat women, can celebrate our lives and the bodies we're in. Knowing that a bikini body and my body are one in the same..is so incredibly freeing, empowering, and life altering
9. Miss Dottie Squish
As a person who likes to be in front of the camera, I feel empowered to know that even though I am curvier and have a tummy I will help encourage other women to accept their bodies and wear what they would like.
Wearing my bikini gives me the opportunity to show off my curves just like everyone else who wears one. Why should I cover my body up just because I have more to show?
A bikini, to me, is many things. It's a form of self expression, it's a tool of self love, it's a show of confidence, and it's a big &%$# you to anyone who thinks only a certain body type deserves to be seen in a bikini. While I adore my ever growing bikini collection for how it shows off my body, and my confidence, I know that confidence and self love can be wrapped in a one piece as well. Wear whatever makes you happiest to the beach, pool, or anywhere else, but if you've been waiting for 'some day' to wear a bikini, today is that day! You're a super babe no matter what you have on; never stop believing that.
I love my bikini body so my girls learn that everyone is beautiful.
When I went to the beach with my friend, she asked me if I felt brave or liberated wearing my bikini. And I did a little bit. It's kind of this weird little thrill, like when I do something I'm not really supposed to do. But mainly, I feel really, really cute in it. That's the word that's foremost on my mind when I wear my bikini. I am cute with my big, round belly and sunglasses and everything. I am cute, and it's wonderful.
I don't own a full bikini but that does not mean I won't be rocking my beach body this summer! This is a photo by Katie Soze, which I did a few years ago, and it helped me love my body in all its fat lumpy bumpy glory. Learning to love my body has brought me so much peace in the war against my fat. We are now best of friends.
The minute I came out wearing this suit everyone told me how cute it was. It makes me feel funky and young, like I used to feel in high school. It helps me get my confidence back.
Being a bigger girl for years, I used to hide my body under unflattering board shorts. This year I got past it and wore a tankini to the beach. The world didn't end, there were no nasty comments and I even got attention from some cute strangers — way cuter and more comfortable than any board shorts I've owned!
17. Gypsy Danger
Image Credit (all): Fatshion Peepshow