As the weather warms, the minds of millions of consumers turn to bathing suits. Women are encouraged to worry about whether their bodies are “bathing suit ready,” or whether it’s time to panic and purchase any number of so-called miracle diets on the market, or perhaps shell out for a gym membership or exercise program.
While at least one tourist destination encourages visitors to cover up (CNN reports that a proposed law will result in fines for those whose suits show too much, though it’s not clear how skimpy bathing wear must be to fit that criteria), other locations lean in the opposite direction: the Detroit Free Press reports on some of the best Caribbean beaches where no bathing suits are required at all.
The decision about how much to cover seems to leave many women in anguish, as they worry over stretch marks from pregnancy, body types they perceive as unlovely, and concerns that overly-skimpy suits will ‘send the wrong message.’
Lashing back at this idea, a growing number of women are decrying what they see as an attempted public ownership of their bodies by a patriarchal society. They note that these standards, while not unheard of, are rarer for men, and suggest that it’s time for women to feel comfortable buying bathing suits they like, without worrying about whether others will make judgments.
The idea that women can simply wear what they like, without worrying about whether their bathing suits show any fat rolls, scars, or other is inspiring social media memes encouraging women to feel comfortable in their skin, regardless of what flaws they think might be evident.
Still, those on the other side of the debate, what one might term the “We Don’t Want To See That!” side, maintain that there are some things not appropriate for public display. For instance, Blogger Brooke Birmingham shared a photo on Facebook just last month, after she says a magazine refused to use it. The photo is an ‘after’ shot, taken after she lost 172 pounds, shows Brooke in her bathing suit top and shorts. Those who have lost large amounts of weight will recognize the extra skin showing between the two articles of clothing.
On Twitter, too, we are reminded that women’s bodies are, first and foremost, for the viewing pleasure of others:
Fat girls who wear a bikini. I have nothing against you. But do spare a thought for other peoples’ eyes.
— Shahirwan (@slooberbie) May 10, 2014
High waisted bathing suits are a fat girls excuse to wear a bikini, not sure if I’m prepared for the sights I’m about to endure this summer
— Lës (@lesbone_) May 14, 2014
Fat-shaming is nothing new in our society (and at least one study has shown that those who think they’re ‘helping’ are not, as Inquisitr reported last year) but it seems that at no other time does it rise to such a fever pitch as the start of summer, when clothes start getting scantier and skin more visible.
It seems like when the bathing suits hit the store shelves, the mixed messages explode. Should women be self-confident, and wear what makes them comfortable, or should they be conscious of how they look to others and focus on fitting into society’s norms? Who decides what you wear? Tell us in the comments: do you choose bathing suits based on covering flaws, or based on comfort?
(Image Credit: Alex Proimos)