Now that the summer is here, women all over the country are finding themselves grappling with that tricky time of year known as bathing suit season. And while advertisers would have you believing that obtaining a “beach body” is an almost unobtainable goal that requires fad diets and weeks of depravation, we here at theGrio adamantly disagree.
For the record: any body can be a beach body.
But if you’re still on the fence and need a gentle nudge into believing that it may be time to let go of the cover up and sashay on the sand with the best of them, no worries. We gotchu! Below are our top five reasons why every women should consider rocking a swimsuit wherever they are in their fitness and/or body acceptance journey.
You won’t be alone
Even though your social media timeline may have us all clear on what an IG “baddie” is allegedly supposed to look like, on the bright side, the rise of the body positivity counter culture is becoming almost as visible.
Now entertainers, athletes and even models of all sizes are demanding their time in the spotlight and being seen as beautiful, desirable and worthy. For example, in June when plus sized powerhouse Lizzo took the stage in revealing bridal themed one-piece (in white no less! a color that hides nothing) not only was the audience awed by her sexiness and fearlessness, she even got a standing ovation from Rihanna herself.
If you ever find yourself wondering if you can pull off swimwear, or need a bit of “love me as I am” inspiration, we highly recommend you put on Lizzo’s music and remind yourself you are not alone.
— Chris Witherspoon (@WitherspoonC) June 24, 2019
It sends a strong message to other women around you
Speaking of Rihanna, when a few years ago when she found herself putting on a few pounds, rather than rushing to shed it like most pop stars, she embraced it so fearlessly that soon her audience found themselves having to accept her new physique. And boy did they ever, with even casual spectators applauding the new “Thick Riri.”
Now is she plus-sized even in her new fuller frame? Of course not. But women of all sizes have insecurities about their bodies, and her response to her body sent a strong message out there to women all over the world that you don’t necessarily have to be rail thin, or shaped like a coke bottle to see yourself as desirable.
Thick Rihanna’s Debut changed the course of history. https://t.co/VSdORh2HY4
— Ovie’s Baby Mother (@stateofgracevzm) July 23, 2019
This message was only further illustrated when she came out with her Savage X Fenty line which quite blatantly chose to celebrate ever single body size and shape under the sun in unapologetically sheer lingerie.
While you may not be Rihanna, we promise you that there are other women in your life who probably look up to you or will find themselves moved by the example you set on your own body acceptance journey. And if you have children, especially a daughter, consider slipping on a swimsuit to set an example for her.
Little girls raised watching the women around them love themselves, often grow up to be women who normalize doing the same.
There’s a perfect suit for every body
Gone are the days when you had to go to a catalog or speciality shop in the middle of nowhere to find a decent bathing suit for a body over a size 6. Now designers are becoming hip to the fact that non supermodels want to have fun in the sun too, and have found themselves having to create options to address that market.
Do we have a long way to go as far as fashion fully accepting the full array of bodies that exist on this planet? Absolutely. But there are several boutique designers – many of them women themselves – who have made a name for themselves supporting sisters looking to flaunt their thick thighs on somebody’s beach.
One that comes to mind is Black designer Monif C., who for years has been making bold, colorful designs for plus sized fashionistas. Another is New York based Haitian-American design brand Rue 107, whose courageous use of prints and innovative silhouettes have become a favorite of women of all sizes looking to set themselves apart from the pack. Even curvy urban model turned activist Amber Rose has been spotted in some of Rue’s designs.
We promise you….whatever you’re working with, there’s a suit out there meant to make the most of it.
The talent behind Rue 107 is Marie Jean-Baptiste. She immigrated to US at 13 after her mother won a green card lottery. Jean-Baptiste followed her calling to fashion and created the online store in 2011. Her clothes have been worn by #Nikkiminaj #amberrose and #beyonce pic.twitter.com/IwNT9Nc8sx
— haitiville (@haitivillecom) December 5, 2017
It’s a legitimate part of the healing process
Now that we’ve identified the army of remarkable women who’ve created a lane for all of us to express our body positivity in public without it being looked down upon as much as it used to be, let’s discuss where this fear of wearing a bathing suit even stems from.
Women, particularly Black women, are often sent damaging messages that their desirability and value is somehow contingent on obtaining some physical ideal of perfection. But the truth is, even women who do look like that ideal will tell you, once you get there the goal post just gets moved to something else.
Perfection is a myth. But the trauma that we cause ourselves by chasing it is real.
No one is saying you shouldn’t work towards looking like your dream beach body. But if you don’t deprogram yourself from the harmful internal dialogue that convinced you not to wear a bathing suit in the first place, it’ll follow you even into your new body. The internet is full of testimonials from women we lost the weight, got in shape, and were still grappled with feelings of insecurities they’d hope would magically disappear.
So if you find the courage to actually buy that swimsuit, before you go outside and wear it in front of the world, stand in front of the mirror, truly look at yourself, and have an honest discussion with your inner self. Tell her, its time to love exactly what she sees even if she wants to work towards something else. Remind her that she’s worthy, right now, and during ever step of her healing process.
It might sound silly to some, but something as seemingly shallow as putting on a swimsuit, really can be a huge leap in the direction of radical self acceptance.
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Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls. We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love's light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free. – TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL by the late, great Phenomenal woman Dr MAYA ANGELOU • 📸 @darnelltemenu
If not now, when?
And last but not least, we come down to my favorite question in matters like this, “If not now, when?”
If there’s one thing the shocking and unexpected death of entertainer and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle taught us in March, it’s that tomorrow really isn’t promised. None of us really know how long we have on this earth. And if you ask any elder what they regret most in life, it often isn’t their failures, but instead all those things they talked themselves out of doing and all those moments they robbed themselves of experiencing.
Whether you’re here for 33 years or 100, don’t you want to be able to say you lived fully and found a way to navigate this world being comfortable in your skin?
Your body, even with all its flaws, has gotten you this far. It’s carried you your entire life, even at moments when you condemned it and/or took it for granted. If for no other reason than that, it deserves to be loved and celebrated.
Go out there and get some sun, sis. The beach will have to deal with whatever body you give it.
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric