Fatkinis in Paradise

Back in January, my family and I made plans to go on a giant summer vacation together to Cabo San Lucas. It’d be the whole gang — my parents, my siblings and siblings-in-law, my sister’s parents-in-law (they actually have a timeshare down in Cabo, and are prett much the whole reason this thing is happening), Sean, and me — and the timing, I figured, would be perfect! I’d have more than six months to get my body back to bikini-ready shape after typical holiday-season slacking. It was just the motivator that I needed to get back on the wagon and drop some libbies again, right?

Weeeeell, actually, wrong (as we already know.) I have indeed managed to shave off about 20 – 25 pounds from what I had regained, which is awesome, but in the months since I have clearly stopped making any attempts to hide the fact that I’m not actively dieting anymore. And yet, this tropical vaycay was still looming, looming, looming… and I realized that sooner or later, I’d have to face my body and whether it was bikini-ready or not.

Now, first up, my feelings about the term “bikini body” in general can now pretty much be summer up by the following (adorable) graphic:

But even so, hey, I’m not immune to the pressures that society puts on people to want to look a certain way. I mean, I’m a mass consumer of media in all its various forms, so of course I’m not, hahaha. So I would be lying if I said that the idea of baring skin by the poolside didn’t cause me at least a little bit of stress. But you know me, I’ve never really been able to subscribe to the idea that skinny feels better than food tastes or whatever, so ultimately it came down to whether I wanted to get myself all bent out of shape over how I looked at the beach, or if I wanted to, you know, continue enjoying my life the way it is. And I mean, I know I probably sound super douchey saying it out loud, but my life is pretty stellar right now.

S0 since I am, at least currently, totally uninterested in torturing myself both physically and mentally over a vacation (which, hello, is supposed to be relaxing anyway), I came to realize that the best way for me to get beach-ready probably wasn’t to agonize endlessly over my bodily imperfections. No, I’d take a different approach.

Rather than forcing myself to do a juice cleanse in the hopes that it’d shave another 1/4 of an inch off my general body circumference, I decided to do a mental cleanse instead. I rejected the notion that summer is limited to people who wear single digit sizes. I faced the fact that I am really not as important as I make myself out to be, and people out there enjoying their own vacations really don’t give two hoots what I, some random stranger with outrageously colored hair, am wearing at any given time.

I know, I’ve talked a bit about this kind of body acceptance before, of course, because it’s always been true. But my past posts were written with the looming idea that I still needed to lose weight. So, you know, I could love my body and all, sure. But in the back of my mind I was still telling myself, “Just don’t love it so much that you stop wanting to fix it.”

Weeeeell, obviously I have a little bit of a different perspective about things now. I don’t want to have to fix anything anymore. And you can say that’s just me being lazy, but it’s not going to change the fact that I fully embrace the fact that any body really can be a bikini body. After all, just like bodies, bikinis come in lots of different shapes and sizes. And whether you have thunder thighs or flat butt syndrome or belly flab or big boobs or small boobs or no boobs, you’d be pretty amazed at how great a relatively tiny amount of fabric can make you feel, if it’s the right cut.

This idea of there being different swimsuits for different bodies isn’t news, of course. I’ve been reading magazines for years, all offering advice on what swimsuits work best for different body types. Small bust, wide hips, broad shoulders, hourglass, there were options for all, and the features usually even came with photos of real-life women illustrating the effects of properly allocated swimwear.

In retrospect, though, I realize that while these articles might have been a great way to showcase poolside fashion, they still fell into the trap that a lot of  mainstream fashion does when it comes to dressing one particular type of body shape: they don’t really know what to do with it, so they just cover it up. Which, yes, granted, not everyone has a nice flat tummy to showcase between the top-part and bottom-part of your swimsuit, but does that mean we’re not allowed to show it at all?

I have distinct memories of flipping through magazine pages as the feature addressed pear-shaped and straight-shaped and hourglass-shaped figures and showcased adorable, fashionable bikini looks for each of them, only to finally get to the “Full Figure” or “Plus Sized” section at the end and have it be full of one-pieces and tankinis.

Yeah, kinda like that.

And hey, don’t get me wrong, there are some might fine one-pieces and tankinis out there. I’m a big fan, myself.

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Terrible iPad selfies aside, this is literally my favorite suit to ever exist in the history of swimwear. I pretty much just hung around the house wearing it all yesterday afternoon because I didn’t want to take it off, that’s how much I love it. I mean, aside from the whole wet swimsuit + full bladder predicament that surfaces every once in a while, I’m all about the one-piece. But I think you know that really isn’t where my issue lies.

I just don’t love the message that it sends when the media showcase all these different kinds of women looking fab in two-piece swimsuits… except for one kind. Because even larger, thicker, curvier, whatever-er women can still look totally bangable in ‘kinis, and not showcasing that fact, as unintentional as it may be, still perpetuates the idea that we should be hiding our bodies because there’s something wrong with them.

Luckily, I think the tide is finally beginning to turn on that front. Maybe it’s due to the resurgence of vintage-style clothing coming back into vogue (high-waisted bottoms FTW!), or maybe it’s because of body positive figures like GabiFresh (I believe she’s the originator of the term “fatkini”), but either way, I am so on board with all women being able to wear whatever the hell they want and hopefully feeling beautiful and confident while doing so.

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Which is why next week you will see me, proudly rocking my own fatkinis (given how much I’ve admitted to hating the word “fat,” I actually really love the term “fatkini”) and maybe even inspiring other women to do the same. It’s your body, after all. Wear what you want!

And that goes double when on vacation.

Bikini Season

In exactly two weeks from today, I will be on a plane with the lovely and amazing Anne, both of us heading to Boston for the Reach the Beach Relay race. The race takes place on the 18th and 19th (it’s an overnight race, in case you weren’t aware — eep!), and I fly back on the 20th. Then, I’m back at work on the 21st… for one day. Because the day after that, I’m headed to ST. MAARTEN!

I’m going back to this glorious Carribbean paradise (well, the beaches are paradise. The towns, not so much.) with my family to celebrate my brother-in-law’s graduation from medical school. It’s a little stressful when I think about the timeline of events as they approach: flying up, running my 3 legs of the relay, flying back, one day at work, flying out. Guff. Another added layer to this is that I’m ALSO starting two online classes this month as I work towards my potential teaching career.

All the stressful scheduling aside, however, I’m obviously very excited for both the race and this vacation (though I will admit, my anticipation for a week of lounging around on a pristine beach drinking frozen cocktails does edge out 24+ hours of sweaty blogger van-bonding. Sorry ladies. ;)). I’m especially looking forward to going back and getting some legit pictures of St. Maarten… and of myself, given that the last time I was there was Spring Break 2009.

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And the time before that, was the Christmas prior. Er, yeah.

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What am I reading here? It does not look like I am enjoying it, hahaha.

I have changed a lot since both of those trips — both physically and emotionally. Still, it’s a little difficult to look back on the pictures from this time period and keep myself level-headed about all the impending swimsuit-wearing on the horizon. I like to think that since I’ve started my weight loss journey, I have developed a modicum of bikini confidence, but with all my recent setbacks and gains, it’s hard not to lose myself in a place of negative self-talk. And with my history of disordered eating, that’s always dangerous, because it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from backsliding into crash- or starvation-dieting just so that I can be “bikini ready” (whatever that means).

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Last Summer

Even though I KNOW that is the least healthy and most ineffective way to lose weight, I know myself too. And I know I would justify it by saying it would just be for the trip, that I’d get back to doing things the healthy way afterward, stuff like that. It’s a slippery slope though, my friends. And as many of us already know, the ironic thing is that doing so probably wouldn’t result in me losing a single pound. In fact, I would probably gain a ton back instead, since eventually I would get so hungry that I would just binge. Vicious cycle, remember?

This is why it’s probably a really, really good thing that I do have the race right before this vacation. Even though the close timing of both trips has me slightly anxious, I know that if I didn’t have to train and fuel my body properly for the race, I would be all the more likely to succumb to the temptation of starving myself for this trip.

I think it’s progress that I am at least cognizant of my proclivity to fall victim to this kind of thinking. Knowing is half the battle, right? I fully intend on staying the course with my healthy weight loss “guidelines“, exercising as I have been, and participating in what is sure to be an epic racing experience. I still am planning on rocking my bikinis loud and proud on this trip (though I am admittedly packing a one-piece or two just in case I get a little too self-conscious of my tum, hehe), and even have a brand new (and hot pink!) retro-cut ‘kini (this one!) that I’m really looking forward to breaking out.

With summer and bikini season approaching, are you finding it harder to resist the temptation to drastically (and potentially unhealthily) change up your eating habits?