The Swimsuit Body | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Swimsuit Body

Summer brings one of my least-favorite times of the year: skimpy clothes and swimsuit season. As a curvy woman, finding a suit that I like and that fits properly is a challenge. I am not sure why it is so hard to make an attractive, affordable swimsuit for a plus-size woman under 50, but apparently it requires a team of NASA scientists.

I used to hate this time of year because I was self conscious and uncomfortable in summer clothing. I felt like too much of my big, socially unacceptable body was showing. Those days passed long ago, thankfully. These days, my strong dislike for this time of year has to do with other people.

I rarely have anyone say to me that my summer dress is inappropriate for a larger woman. The uncomfortable things are much more oblique, such as all the "I can't believe that 'fat girl' wore it" memes, and social-media comments about seeing some "fat cow" dressed in shorts and a tank top with her rolls showing. My personal favorite is, "Who would want to see that ?"

For some reason, people think that commenting negatively on others' bodies is appropriate behavior. I guess plus-size women should hide in shame all summer long, right?

I challenge myself to question the judgments I make about people, including what makes people attractive, and why I think someone should or shouldn't wear something. When I push back against fat shaming and size judgments on social media and in other spaces, I get arguments. Most of them are caught up in writers' perceived need for women to dress to be attractive (to them)--or at least not offensive. They say fat people need to be healthy. Certain things are attractive and OK for some women to show but gross when others show them.

It is a challenge to insist that women and men of diverse body types are also people who have the right to exist without ridicule. Our popular media and culture tell us what the standard of beauty is. Many feel compelled to not only comply but also to punish those who don't.

For me, I have been working at something different for several years: radical self-love. It is a wonderful space to occupy, and I encourage everyone to try it. Everyone can have a swimsuit body. Just buy a swimsuit and wear it!

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