My opinion on swimwear has always been a mixed one, ever since I was a young girl, because there isn’t just (as odd as it sounds) one occasion where you wear it. I never cared how fashionable it was or how good I looked going to the local swimming baths because I was just going to swim- no one was taking photos, no one even took a camera, and you were just having a bit of a laugh with your parents and getting a bit of exercise at the same time.
But there did become a time when I really began to care: the dreaded summer holidays. Dreaded because I hated the way I looked and there were always a bazillion photos taken on the beach or lazing round the pool with me looking fat and sweaty and gross. (I feel like I need to point out that I look no physically different from the past that I was referring to, I’m still just as big and I’ve gotten no prettier, I’ve just changed my opinion of myself to a positive one.)
But the one thing that always used to terrify me was bikinis. There’s only actually been 2 occasions in my entire life where I’ve worn a bikini, one when I was 14 and one a week ago at the grand old age of 23. But I’m going to tell you about the first time first. Because that makes sense.
Like I said, I was 14 and we were abroad on a family holiday (I forget which, we went on a few before my mum realised just how much debt she was in) and the particular day in question we were lounging around the pool when I, foolishly, decided to wear a bikini. I’d never worn one before but I’d bought it because at the time I thought it was cute and that would compell me to wear it somehow. It did not. But I braved it for the day and it was the most uncomfortable experience of my life because I just did not have that confidence in my body yet, I was too worried about people looking at me and my wobbly bits and my stretchmarks and it just wasn’t fun. I remember actually being so terrified of getting out of the pool that I kept pretending I was cold so someone would bring my towel to the poolside so I could cover myself up before anyone had the chance see me.
So cut to 9 years later and even though I have a more positive relationship to my body, I was still scared of having the same reaction to being in a bikini again. Only, this time I shopped smart. I’m still not happy with my stretchmarks on my stomach (which I’ll probably write another post about at some point) so I opted for a high-waisted bikini. Because body positivity isn’t just loving every inch of yourself, it’s knowing what you don’t like and working on that, and knowing what you have to do in order to be at your most confident. And for me that was covering them up. Maybe by next year I’ll love them but who knows.
But I still embraced the bikini. I have really big boobs so I got this spotty number from Figleaves, who sell a lot of their bikinis and swimssuits by bra size and have the support structure of a proper bra.
And not only was I satisfied, I actually felt sexy. I loved walking round the pool with my holiday locks and my thick thighs, it almost felt cathartic. Like I was stripping myself of the shame I’d felt all those years ago, it almost felt like a celebration. Because I’d been feeling so good about myself and my body recently but I hadn’t put that confidence into the real world yet to see if it would stand. And it did. I felt so good about myself all holiday and I really think wearing this bikini was at the centre of it all. I even stopped to do a mini photoshoot on the first day of wearing it, and if you knew me, you’d know that that is completely out of character.
I embraced the camera for once in my life, I wasn’t shying away or hiding behind dark sunglasses and a book, pretending I didn’t care. No matter how lumpy and bumpy my body was, I felt good and that’s all that counted.
And I would highly recommend Figleaves if you have a fuller bust and want the joy of wearing a bikini.