Author and blogger Jenny Trout recently penned an essay titled, “I Wore a Bikini and Nothing Happened,” a firsthand account of the time she wore a two-piece bathing suit to the beach without incident. While it might seem strange that she is sharing an experience in which she dressed appropriately for a day at the beach, Trout’s point is that for a woman of her size – considered “plus-size” by American clothing standards – deep-rooted stigmatization and feminine beauty standards make her choice to wear a bikini a controversial one.
Trout begins her essay with a bit of dialogue with context:
This year, I made a New Year’s resolution that confused some people. By confuse, I mean conversations about it usually went like this:
Me: ‘Next summer, I’m going to wear a bikini.’
Them: ‘What a great goal! What are you doing? Weight Watchers? Jenny Craig? Are you going vegan? Paleo? Are you having the surgery?’
Me: ‘I said I was going to wear a bikini. I didn’t say I was going to lose weight.’
Them: Face melts off like they’re staring into the Arc of The Covenant.
Trout became incredibly frustrated with how hard it was for people to grasp the concept of embracing one’s body and wearing what feels appropriate and comfortable in a beach setting. The reactions she got to her New Year’s resolution were cruel at worst (“Won’t you be ‘glorifying obesity?’”), and confused at best, (“You’re not going to try and lose any weight?”). Trout was forced to confront the socially prescribed notions of beauty and bodies that preside over and permeate our culture on a daily basis. However, she didn’t let the negative, confused comments about her body deter her from wearing an adorable bikini to the beach recently, after which she was happy to report that chaos did not, in fact, ensue.
“Nothing happened,” she said. “The families spending the day at Hunter’s Point did not flee in terror for fear of catching whatever horrible health problems bikinis cause. No one immediately stuffed fistfuls of lard into their mouths to emulate my ‘glorious’ body,” Trout explains, of her day spent out in the sun and in her bikini.
The point that she is trying to make here is an important one: that women (and men) do not need to subscribe to the ways in which society wants us to look, dress, and ultimately value ourselves. One of the most compelling points that Trout makes in her essay is this: “The reason these people do not want to see a fat body in a bikini is because traditionally, that garment is something a woman earns by proving herself attractive enough to exist.” It’s time to stop equating “conventional attractiveness” to a person’s worth and existence, and time to start embracing every body no matter what it looks like.
Read more of Trout’s essays and social commentary by visiting jennytrout.com.
Image 1: via GABIFRESH.
Image 2: via jennytrout.com.