Admittedly, in San Francisco (where I live,) summer bears a striking resemblance to Alaska, but oh-no, I’m not the kind of girl to let a thick sheet of fog, a freezing cold body of water, and high winds stop me from showing some flesh.
So this year, I bought my very own fatkini in week one of beach season.
“Holy lemon bars, what is a fatkini, Virgie?” you may be asking.
It’s a trendy moniker for a two-piece bathing suit for fat girls – often involving high-waisted bottoms. If you haven’t heard of the fatkini phenomenon, ghurl, you’ve got to get on this trend.
Make no mistake: I was not always a bathing suit enthusiast!
Perhaps like you, my past holds untold numbers of bathing suit PTSD episodes.
I hated the idea of the exposure that a bathing suit guarantees. The thighs, the arms, the shiny tight cloth: it was all too much to handle.
My first bathing suit trauma happened when I was a little girl taking swimming lessons.
I showed up in my one-piece bathing suit – swimming cap on, goggles atop my head, nervous-excited – to the community pool.
One of the women who worked there tried to help me find a place in the minnows class for beginners. She walked me over to a swim instructor and said that no one else had room for me in their group.
He said, “Well, look at her.”
I was seven.
For years after that, I wore a big baggy shirt and shorts to the pool. If I could have jumped in completely clothed in a girdle, four turtle necks, sweat pants, and a ski mask, I would have.
If you’d told my former self that someday, she’d be the proud owner (and wearer!) of a two-piece bathing suit, she would have scoffed and blushed and probably would have cried a little.
But that has all changed, friend. Nowadays, I find excuse after excuse to get this fatkini on my plump physique.
I wanted to share the good word of the fatkini with you.
So, here it is – 10 reasons why I love my fatkini:
1. My fatkini is the swimwear equivalent of farting in the face of patriarchy.
2. My fatkini says my body is mine, and I don’t want to hide it ever again. It reminds me that I am entitled to the delicious heat of the sun on my skin and the delighted excitement I feel when cold water touches my skin.
3. My fatkini is a reminder that a manufacturer actually made this plus-size piece of swimwear, and there are about 15,000 more where this one came from – each encasing a fatty.
4. My fatkini is my claim to visibility and an open invitation to admire me, flirt with me, and worship me (do please make sure to ask first!).
5. In my fat girl fairy tales, I use my fatkini to incite other fatties to rise up in belly-shaking, thigh-jiggling, double-chin rollicking rebellion.
6. My fatkini top doubles as a crop top that I wear under lacy or transparent tops, for days when I’m not at the beach, but still want to fuck with society’s expectations of women’s bodies.
7. My fatkini inspires friendship and magical serendipitous run-ins. Recently at a pool party, I met two people visiting from Seattle, and after over-sharing for several hours, and parting ways thinking we’d never see each other again, we ran into each other in the Mission the next night and danced all night long (all night) to Missy Elliott.
8. My fatkini pairs beautifully with a parasol and a pink margarita.
9. My fatkini disproves one of the diet industry’s biggest lies: I don’t need to lose 20 or 30 or 50 pounds to look good in a bathing suit. I look good right now.
10. I wear this fatkini in the name of my former self and in the name of all the people who feel they must hide, who feel they aren’t entitled to wear what they want, who live in a shame that they were taught.
I wear this fatkini for you and I will wear it until this war on obesity is over. I will wear this fatkini until the shame of fatphobia falls on the bigots who practice it not its victims. I will wear this fatkini for as long as it incites raised eyebrows and beating hearts.
If you like the idea of a fatkini, but maybe aren’t quite ready for a two-piece for whatever reason, please know that’s totally okay! My goal isn’t to force you into a bathing suit situation that makes you feel weird or unsafe.
But if you are there, and you just needed that final push, I say do it!
I have a feeling you’ll love it as much as I do.
Virgie Tovar, MA is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism and the editor of the book, Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion. Virgie is one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers in the areas of fat discrimination and body image. She lives in San Francisco. Find her online at www.virgietovar.com.