Why plus-size women aren’t ‘brave’ for wearing a bikini

Written by Leah Sinclair

While the body positivity movement has increased representation, the constant comments on plus-size women’s bodies  especially during summer  highlight just how far we have to go.

One of the things I love the most about summer is the option to wear as little as possible.

After months wrapped up in knitted jumpers, winter coats and 100 denier tights, summer allows me to emerge from my cosy cocoon and blossom into a well-dressed, linen-loving butterfly. It also means heading to a beach far away from the UK and dusting off a trusty two-piece that was sitting at the back of my wardrobe for the last eight to 10 months.

With a pina colada in one hand, a book in the other and an exposed fupa in between both, summer holidays allow me to live my absolute best life while wearing a cute little bikini and I love to see other women embrace this too – until its plus-size women being told they are ‘brave’ and ’confident’ for wearing one.

These comments often crop up on social media when someone shares a bikini pic – and this was the case with Lena Dunham. The former Girls actor took to Instagram to share a series of photos of her enjoying the summer while wearing a variety of swimsuits and bikinis – and while many commented with the obligatory “yas girl” and heart-eyed emojis, there were some who commended Dunham for sharing such photos.

“There’s nothing sexier than a woman who’s comfortable in her own skin,” commented one user, while another said: “You have so much confidence and you’re just so brave.”

One even commented: “Yes to thigh brows.” Yes, someone commented on Dunham’s bikini line.

While I’m sure the comments were said with good intentions, the idea of calling a plus-size woman ‘brave’ for wearing a bikini is inherently offensive.

For one, by highlighting that they are brave or confident, you are already othering them and highlighting that, for them, wearing such items is outside of the norm.

It speaks to how people view larger women and their choice to dare to show skin despite the blistering temperatures they’re in – like their fupas don’t want to get a little vitamin D too.

No item of clothing is limited to one specific body type and commenting on plus-size women’s ‘bravery’ is a reminder that many people still feel like it is.

Remarking on plus-size women’s swimwear options – or anything they wear – also strips them of their ability to just exist.

After all, why does a plus-size woman wearing a bikini have to be a statement or a reflection of “how far they’ve come”? Why can’t people just comment “You look hot,” and go?

This kind of comment also raises questions about just how far we’ve come with the body positivity movement.

While it was initially founded in the 1960s (then dubbed the Fat Acceptance Movement), the body positivity movement really gained traction in the 2010s and spawned a movement that challenged body representation in the media and created much-needed conversations that changed the status quo around our bodies.

People who didn’t feel seen or represented can now scroll through their Instagram feed and see a plethora of plus-size influencers working with brands and models walking the runway for some of the world’s biggest fashion designers.

And while we can argue that this has trickled down to the masses, the need to still centre and comment on someone’s body and their confidence shows me that we’re not as far ahead as we think.

In a movement that has aimed to normalise all bodies, plus-size bodies still need to be commented on – and that shouldn’t be the case.

As someone who has seen the evolution of the body positivity movement, the celebration of all types of bodies is amazing to see. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be the focal point of every photo that shows a woman’s belly, thigh, back or whatever else is naturally on show right now.

What I’m trying to say is if I pop up on Instagram with a photo in a bikini with my fupa front and centre, tell me I look cute and keep it moving – it really isn’t that hard to do.

Image: Getty

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