Beauty, Style
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I Wore a Bikini. That’s What I Did.

“It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.” – Sally Field

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Do you watch Girls? If so, do you remember the episode where the girls of Girls head to the North Fork for some R&R and Hannah spends the entire day in that green bikini? I have watched that episode from start to finish 19 times. It was around the 11th viewing when my friend Ali posted to Facebook: “I cannot stop thinking of Hannah’s green bikini”.

I popped up out of my constant recline (What? Whenever I’m home I lose all ability to sit up straight) and said “YES” which deserved all caps.  I realized that I had to watch that episode over and over, not because of the writing or the storyline or empathy on the progression/regression of friendship as an adult, but because homegirl wore a green bikini for an entire episode. Never mind my questions on comfort and chafing, but a woman who is not a size two rocked that bikini all over Long Island and I wanted to give her a high five through my TV screen.

Obviously, I’ve seen a woman in a bikini before. I’ve even seen a larger woman in a bikini before, and you know what my thought is? Get it, girl. Will I be putting my ample ass into a bikini? NO. Because AMPLE. I tell myself that I shouldn’t be in a two piece bathing suit. I don’t have the body for it. I can do yoga every day for the rest of my life and while I will always be able to bend over and place two palms on the floor, I will never be lithe and graceful. I look at photos of myself or take a peek in a full-length mirror and say that perhaps I should do all a favor and stay away from anything that shows my mid-section. My body is very apple shaped, everything goes straight to my stomach; no one needs to see all of that. So, when Ali mentioned Lena Dunham in a green bikini my natural response was this: I AM BUYING ONE.

And then I had an outer body moment where I was like, um, what? Who said that? And then I added exclamation points and went directly to the Forever 21 website and PURCHASED A BIKINI. And then it arrived and I was still like, this is not happening. But we know F21’s return policy, or lack thereof, so I found myself the not-so-proud owner of the bombshell top in neon coral and the retro glam bottoms in black. And then I put that sucker in my bag and brought it to Miami. Why waste a perfectly good bathing suit even when you are going to a place known for its supremely beautiful people? I don’t know what they put in the water there, but no one’s thighs touch in Miami and all the men have muscles and a six pack. As I’ve said; exactly as advertised.

When you are a woman of plus size, the idea of putting your body in a bikini is less than appealing. I had to take a Klonopin before putting on my bathing suit because, what would the others think? I, a woman who normally doesn’t give a damn as to the opinions of others suddenly found myself reverting to my 11-year-old self. The 11-year-old who deemed herself fat, so she swam in a giant t-shirt. Always with the t-shirts in the pool and on the beach. People ask if I ever wore a two piece as a child and I honestly have no idea because every photo is of me in a giant tee but no pants. That’s how I spent my summers.

Then there is the natural comparison to one’s stunning and hot friends. Somewhere, my traveling partner Jumana is reading this and she’s going to be embarrassed that I referred to her as hot, but let’s all be real here: She’s like a size 2 and I am like a size 2X and there would be no way on God’s green earth that I would be wearing a bikini next to her.

I’m sure you’re now wondering what I did with that bikini and all of my pent up fear and anxiety and the body issues that I thought I had long gotten over:

I wore a bikini. That’s what I did.

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SPOILER ALERT: I survived the ordeal. Though it wasn’t the profound, liberating experience, with other women admiring me from afar and giving me a thumb’s up while I strutted my stuff on the beach. I was a woman in a bathing suit on a beach with other women and men in their bathing suits on the beach and we were all trying to forget our daily lives and remember what the sun feels like. I had read and heard about all of these other plus size women — including dear friends — who put on a bikini and had this grand epiphany about their own body image and women and the human experience and so, I thought I’d put on a bikini and discover the meaning of life. Instead I discovered sun burns and that it’s far easier to go to the bathroom when wearing two separate pieces as opposed to a one piece.  I’ve had Tuesday afternoons more exciting than wearing a bikini. I wore it, it looked cute, I took it off, the end. And then I purchased another one.

TL; DR I am fat, I wore a bikini. I went about my day. How mundane this story is of a plus size woman wearing a bikini is possibly the greatest discovery of all.

This piece originally appeared on Poliogue.com.

Filed under: Beauty, Style

by

Heather Barmore

Heather Barmore is an avid C-SPAN viewer, former education lobbyist and an occasional blogger. For the last nine years she has been writing about her life at No Pasa Nada and politics at Poliogue: The Art of Political Dialogue. She has also been a contributor to BlogHer.com, The Guardian, and a host of other sites. When she isn't writing, she is speaking about women of color, politics, education policy and using social media for political engagement and advocacy. She resides in Washington, DC with the world's worst cat. You can follow Heather on Twitter at @Poliogue.

9 Comments

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  2. lyoungbk718 says

    Props to you, Heather! Way to rock the bikini AND ballerina pose.

  3. AdriannaDufay says

    I’m inspired. I bought a bikini. I’m over 40, two kids. Yikes! 🙂

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