As the summer season gets into full swing, you may well have noticed articles online, perhaps shared on your social media news feeds, about women in bikinis. There have been some articles that have gone viral about women confidently wearing swimwear – some for the first time after beating their own confidence issues. However, what you often see accompanying such pieces are the comments where, for every person appreciating that someone looks good in what they are wearing, there are people doing things like fat shaming or just generally putting down how people look.
You may well think, while reading these comments, that if even these women you think look good are being judged so critically you’d rather avoid going anywhere in your own swimsuit regardless of how your body looks. If even women you think look healthy and beautiful are being judged so harshly on the internet, what are the people around you secretly thinking about your body or your choice of swimwear? Should you really avoid a bikini because you’ve had kids and the internet makes you feel like other people will judge your “mommy tummy”? Should you avoid swimwear altogether because you are plus size?
Thankfully, the attitudes you see in the comments on the internet are not those you’ll encounter on the beach. Here are a few reasons you should wear your favorite swimsuit, whether it’s a sleek one piece or a skimpy bikini, with pride and not fear strangers judging you this summer:
1. The beach should be about fun, not worrying about fat-shaming.
The internet may be a place for cynicism, aggression and judgment, but the beach actually isn’t. Most people are enjoying themselves, whether relaxing alone, working on their tan or having fun with their friends and family. This is true for most age groups – teens on the beach are having a good time and are in no way interested in whether or not the 40 year old woman 100 yards away on her sun lounger looks out of shape.
Do you look at everybody around you and judge what they look like in their swimwear? Unless you work in the fashion industry and are curious about what is being worn, you probably don’t. Maybe you compare yourself to other people, but most often when you do that you are thinking “she’s about the same age and size as me and she looks good, I probably look OK too” rather than thinking negatively about strangers. Assume that the people around you are like you and the pressure to look a certain way from the media and magazines seem to pale into insignificance.
2. Swimwear actually lets you (wait for it…) swim!
You might think, “why bother with swimwear at all, if it just leads to feeling bad about myself?”, but swimwear is great for the primary reason that it lets you swim! It’s as if among all the discussions and analysis on body image and what swimwear is right for different body shapes (according to how celebrities wear them, of course…) we have forgotten that there is a whole demographic of consumers literally looking for the item of clothing that is going to best serve their bodies in the water.
Finding the right bikini or one-piece isn’t just about how you are going to look in that Instagram post or Facebook vacation photo album, because that makes your swimwear-buying choices about other people. Swimwear is about what you want to put on your body and how you will enjoy your time at the beach or at the pool, and no trending article in Vogue or an uber popular fashion blog can tell you how to feel good. Which brings us to the last and more important point.
3. Finding the right swimwear is about YOUR enjoyment, not anybody else’s.
At the end of the day, owning how you look in a swimsuit means you can forget about negative ideas and enjoy the weather, the water, the feel of the sun on your skin, and everything else that comes with summer. Feeling bad about how you look or worrying that people are judging you can ruin your whole experience. Who cares about what anyone else thinks? Why does a fashion media platform get to decide what your enjoyment should look like based on your appearance or your body?
No matter who you are, it really is important to put your own enjoyment of the summer and your surroundings above any nagging ideas in your mind about how you look. Yes, the internet is harsh on people. Unfortunately, there is a large part of the world wide web where people go to just be mean and spiteful because they have nothing better to do than bully others.
The best way to beat that, aside from ignoring any online hatred, is by being confident, enjoying yourself, and live your life the way you determine. But if you do choose to read any online influencers who promote body positivity and who have become powerful voices in the blogosphere, we highly recommend people like Jes Baker, Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham. If you are looking for brands that support bodies of all shapes and sizes and who recognize the pressure and anxiety that comes from magazine articles that promote “hottest summer bikini trends”, check out up-and-coming brands like NY-based Smart Glamour and Swimsuits for All, as well as bigger brands like Target and JC Penney who are listening to the voices of women who are demanding more diversity in their clothing collections.
If you’re still looking for some inspiration this summer, Bustle has you covered with this tongue-in-cheek video instructional called ‘How To Get A Bikini Body – For Feminists’: