Swimwear, Modelling & The Politics of Plus Size

Well, it’s been a scorcher of a day here in little old Newcastle upon Tyne, with temperatures reaching the staggering heights of 28 degrees! It’s practically arctic when compared to Hong Kong humidity, but hey, any excuse to prance around in a swimsuit, right?

Ahem, no. As I started to talk about in one of my earlier posts, swimsuits have always been no-go areas for me. Hated them, the skintight, stretchy, unforgiving-ness of them and the way they were always too tight and highlighted the bits I didn’t want anyone to see .. least of all strangers (on the beach) or god forbid, schoolmates (school swimming lessons). I love swimming, but baring all in front of hundreds of people? No thanks.

Well, that is changing, thanks to the availability of gorgeous plus size swimwear that caters for every figure. But this isn’t a post designed to show you some lovely swimming cossies (see my earlier post ‘The Importance of Good Swimwear’ for that, lovies) … nope, this is a post about body acceptance, actually scratch that, body LOVE. You heard me.
BODY LOVE.

So, I decided to do something today I never would have willingly done a few years, or even a few months ago. Pictures. Pictures of me in my new swimsuit, enjoying the sun before I went to the beach at South Shields (I was far too busy frolicking at the beach to take photos while there … in reality my camera ran out of battery, d’oh!) The sun was shining, I’d just had my hair coloured and I had a point to prove – to myself as well as to others – plus size girls can look good in swimwear. Of course they can! And anyway, if the sun is shining and there’s a smile on your face you’re going to look amazing whatever your size.

The swimsuit I’m wearing is from Tesco – see previous swimwear post for more detailed details – and it stocks from size 8 to 20. On their website, Tesco uses quite a slim model to advertise this particular swimsuit, which is quite odd as it’s marketed as being for ‘tummy control’. Tesco do use plus sized models, so it’s puzzling that they haven’t used a plus size model in this instance. She does look lovely though:

tescos2 DSCF2714

But there’s no reason why I can’t look just as good. Oftentimes clothing can suit one body shape and not another, but I would argue that this costume looks pretty good on a fuller figured body … that would be me ..

DSCF2721

Now, your eyes may immediately be drawn to the flaws in my body – I know the bright sunlight illuminates it in all glory! I don’t need telling that I have thick thighs, cellulite or a tummy roll .. I’m pretty in tune with my body, so I’ve noticed! But are these really flaws? So I don’t have a gap between my thighs … so what?? We hear over and over again that we should stop being so damned CRITICAL – of others, but especially of ourselves. We’re so, so hard on ourselves and our bodies, and punishing ourselves because we don’t measure up to the medias version of ‘perfection’ is bullshit. I don’t stand for it. I don’t know about you, but I stand for happiness above all – and in these pictures, I’m happy. I was happy on the beach in my swimsuit, I was enjoying myself and I didn’t care what anyone else thought about me or my body AND IT WAS SO FUCKING REFRESHING TO QUIT WORRYING.
DSCF2731

To be honest, even if no-one ever reads this I’m doing myself a favour – because I know when I’m on the beach, I’ll look like I do in those photos – which is fine! More than fine, if we’re talking body love – great! Bodies are alllllllllll different – elementary, my dear Watson – and I’m just sticking mine out there too (literally, ahem) to suggest that it doesn’t matter if your body isn’t perfect. It doesn’t MATTER that you think your thighs are too big or one of your tits is bigger than the other. Be happy, be healthy – you are NOT OBLIGATED to have a ‘perfect’ body. Your body belongs to no-one but you.

And let me tell you: the tide of plus size fashion is turning my friend – you probably already knew that. Massive news this year has been H&M’s use of plus size model Jennie Runk for their beachwear campaign, a gorgeous girl who sizes up at a UK 14/16 (US 18/20). As a plus size customer, I looked at their beachwear range with renewed interest when seeing the ads featuring the very sexy Ms. Runk …. and my interest turned into pure lust for some of their gorgeous swimsuits!

swimwear1

H&M have hit the nail on the head by using a plus size model for such a high-profile campaign – Jennie Runk’s images are EVERYWHERE (supported to a point by ads featuring the curvilicious Beyoncé Knowles too) and promoting plus size fashion and body confidence to a global audience. H&M are wooing a very profitable market – you’ve all heard the figures about the average clothing sizes for women in the UK and US I’m sure, and those figures suggest huge numbers of women worldwide will be looking to buy plus size swimwear ready for this summer. And what have H&M done? Packed a visual punch – the Jennie Runk ads say ‘You were looking for swimwear you can actually fit in. Jennie looks great. We’re making swimwear for YOU. Normal, beautiful, plus-sized bodies. This is FOR YOU.’

Also proving the point that curvy girls can and will rock swimwear is the beautiful plus size model Fluvia Lacerdi, pictured below:

swimwear2

She looks great, doesn’t she? And so can everyone else, plus-sized or not. Our instinctual reaction is usually however, to think immediately not about how good/happy/confident a plus size model looks, but to analyse her weight – is she too overweight? is she bigger than me? Am I skinnier than her? – and there’s been plenty of thought and research devoted into discovering why that is. In fact, I think it’s a largely simple answer: we always see plus sized advertising separate from mainstream ‘straight’ advertising featuring slimmer models. Fat and slim models are rarely pictured together, which is bogus – in all groups of friends there are differing body types, it’s natural. Your friends are slimmer than you/larger than you/have bigger arms/have smaller boobs etc – and it’s this diversity that we should be celebrating, not erasing from advertising like it doesn’t ever happen in real life.

In real life, slim girls are friends with overweight girls. And what happens? They go to the beach, they all wear swimsuits, they hang out and have a good time. So why aren’t we seeing THAT in beachwear ads (or even mainstream clothing ads, for that matter) … why aren’t there all sizes of women frolicking around with their sunglasses and their ice creams in those cringey ads?

That’s what I’d like to see … and it’s only once that sort of inclusive advertising starts that we’ll stop mentally sorting the slim figures from the bigger ones and putting them into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ boxes.

What do you think?

Advertisements

About fiercemissc

Twenty-something Geordie girl living and working in Hong Kong. Young, free and single and making the most of it.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Swimwear, Modelling & The Politics of Plus Size

  1. iamsbutters says:

    Spot on Steph!
    I have a swimsuit from Boots that I absolutely adore… It’s red with white polka dots and a halter neck tie! I never feel less confident than I should in that. So what if my hips come out wider than someone else’s?
    Duhhhh we’re fabulous.

    Lovelovelove. Xx

  2. You are a STUNNER! The first thing I noticed was your beautiful red hair, the bright colors of the swimsuit, and your awesome silhouette 🙂

  3. adrianwin says:

    I’m very late to comment but I accidentally just ‘surfed in’ and found this page. Regarding “cellulite, tummy roll” and no “gap between your thighs”, you ask “are these really flaws?” I suppose we are conditioned to view them as flaws but I think we can also acknowledge that this doesn’t have to control what we actually like. If I had a choice between finding a partner with or without these three features, if all else was equal, I would choose one with, because that’s what I find most attractive. Just as you’ve decided you’re not obligated to have a ‘perfect’ body, I’ve reached the stage of not feeling obligated to like a ‘perfect’ body most. Confidence is a highly desirable quality, so if I find the ‘right’ lady and she happens to have cellulite, etc, I do hope she will embrace the way she is, as you have done. So, I hope this response conveys that it’s also admirers as well as owners of the female form who can undertake something of a ‘journey’!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s