You and Your Swimsuit – A Love Story?


Pink Argyle Bikini
Fantastic art by Jodee Rose

Golda Poretsky (of Body Love Wellness) tweeted;  “Rec’d a link to “How Not To Look Fat In A Swimsuit”. Wld ♥ to see “How Not To Obsess Abt Looking Fat In A Swimsuit & F-ing Enjoy Yourself” several years ago.  The result is this post, which is a Danceswithfat annual tradition.

Seriously, let’s talk about this.  It seems that a lot of the women I know, of any size, start to panic the first time they see swimsuits out on the floor of their favorite store;  their pesky cheerfulness belying what seems like their true purpose of prodding us into paying the diet industry for products that don’t work, and considering a move to Alaska.

I’m doing more open water swimming these days (which involves a wetsuit) but when I am in the gym at the pool, I  wear my bathing suit with no worries.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  It’s my BODY.  I live with it 100% of the time.  It does awesome things for me like breathing, and heartbeat, and swimming and I decided long ago that I am not going to allow anyone to convince me to hate or be ashamed of  something that I am with 100% of the time for the rest of my life.  I get to choose how I feel about my body and I choose to

2.  Because it’s a pool and when I go to the pool, I wear a swimsuit. It’s not for vanity – it’s practical.

3.  I do not care if people are offended by my body.  People are allowed to be offended by whatever they want and it’s really none of my business.  I’m offended by people who are offended by my body, but it turns out nobody gives a damn which is as it should be.  It is my BODY, if we all treated each other with basic human respect it would be impossible to be offended by the mere existence of people because of their body size.  The very idea is ludicrous to me. Regardless, it is not my job to protect people’s delicate sensibilities – if they don’t want to look at me they are welcome to follow any of these options.

4.  Hypocrisy is an ugly thing.  It always seems like the same group of people who are telling me that because I’m fat I have some obligation to exercise (which is bullshit by the way) are subsequently offended by my body in a swimsuit.  The message apparently being that they want me to exercise, but in my house with the shades drawn and wearing an outfit fashioned from a bed sheet.  Screw that.  Don’t like it?  Your problem.

5. It is maddening to me that the diet industry makes over 60 BILLION dollars a year convincing women to hate themselves.  They create fear and uncertainty by saying things like “Swimsuit season is just around the corner, are you ready to wear a swimsuit?”  Well, let’s see here…  Swimsuit?  Check.  Body to put it on?  Check.  Yup, I’m all set thanks.  Plus I think I’ll keep my money you bloodsucking leeches.

6.  People can see me.  So they know how big I am whether I’m in a swimsuit, or jeans and a t-shirt.  If they are shocked at my size in a swimsuit, they should have been paying better attention.  That’s just a big flaming sack of not-my-problem.

I realize that my swimsuit preferences are not everyone’s which is awesome.  Not everyone, regardless of size, is comfortable with how much skin a swimsuit shows.  There is no obligation to rock a bikini or a swimsuit of any kind in order to love your body.  Here are some more ideas to help you stop obsessing and start having fun in the sun (or the oh-so-lovely incandescent glow of the overhead lights at the gym).

1. Alternative Swimsuits.  These are often created for women who want to keep to specific religious clothing guidelines or who just want a more modest look.  I did a quick Google search and found  I’m not affiliated with them at all so I make no guarantees, but it will give you an idea of what’s out there (and some of their plus size swimwear is actually modeled by plus-sized women.  Woot!)

2.  Fabulous Cover ups:  If there’s a particular part of your body that you prefer to keep covered for whatever reason, an (aptly-named) cover-up might be just the thing.  Here are some examples (again, no affiliation, check out the vendors before you buy!)

3.  Safety in numbers.  Go with a group of people who make you feel good about yourself and focus on the fun and not on any body insecurities you might have.  Think about how fantastic your body feels when you are swimming, or going down a water slide, or splashing in the waves.

4.  Reality check.  One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain “I’ve had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened”  When I’m worrying about something I try to remember that I am wasting energy on something that is not actually part of reality.  So instead I…

5.  …Expect the best, plan for the worst.  Think about what your true fears are about going out in a swimsuit.  Write them down and then create a plan to deal with each of them.  Are you afraid people will say something mean to you?  Create some scripting and practice it until you feel comfortable. Afraid of chaffing?  Hie thee to Google and read up on the various lotions, powders etc. that can help with that, or look into swimsuits that can help. Worried people will talk about you behind your back? Maybe that’s the best possible outcome since you don’t have to hear it!

In the end of course it’s your choice.  For my part,  I’m not willing to allow my options for fun, activity, movement etc. to be controlled by what other people might think or say.  If my own fears or insecurities are getting in the way I try to find a way over (modest swimsuit), under (cover up), or through (F this, I’m wearing a thong) the fear and insecurity because I’ve found that very often the pure joy lies just on the other side.

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

14 thoughts on “You and Your Swimsuit – A Love Story?

  1. I’m a big fan of the sarong as a cover up. When I am out of the water, I can wrap it around myself in a lot of different and attractive ways. And the fabrics are so pretty! I know it isn’t my problem – Regan’s post is absolutely accurate, especially the reality check. But it’s hard to ignore that little voice in my head. I’m working on it!

    Anyway, a sarong bridges the middle to me, because I want to enjoy my time at the pool or beach. And it has the bonus of adding additional sun protection for my very fair skin and a ready made blanket to lay on poolside. Plus, they roll up tiny so they fit neatly into a bag.

  2. Considering how rarely I get to go swimming, I won’t waste any of that time feeling bad about how I look in a swimsuit. I’m not there to impress anyone. I’m there to enjoy myself.

    I have the same swimsuit I wore a decade ago (not using it often means it’s still good, I suppose), and it’s still just as cute, so yay.

    The nice thing about being fat in a swimsuit? There’s more cuteness to go around. Seriously, swimsuits are often made with just really cute prints, and if it’s a size small, you don’t get to see the whole pattern. Large sizes means more cute pattern, and I like that. I like to get the whole picture.

  3. I was a swimmer in high school and in “model” shape (I know that term is BS after discovering activists like Ragen and Jeanette DePattie a few years ago) but then my metabolism inevitably changed in my 20s and I was over 300lbs in a blink of an eye. I was TERRIFIED that I would go to a pool and my competition speedos had to be traded in for the fat guy t-shirt in the water look. So i avoided the beach and pool like the plague. And then one day I just happened to be at Hunntington Beach and watched a triathlon. Right in the middle of the pack, cruising with the “athletes” was a very proud fat woman, in a Tri suit no less. I was flummoxed, how could she? Wasn’t she embarrassed? No, I know what swimmers look like, I was one for gods sake! Surely you have to look something like a swimmer to be a triathlete but nope…there she was.

    I approached her after the race and she invited me to her triathlon club, I showed up bright and early Monday morning and never looked back. It was through this club (and an interest in opera) that I was introduced to Jeanette DePatie who in turn is how i found out about Ragen. I had been hiding from my true self for so long that I was hiding from a lot of great things in the world. All because a swim suit.

    You better believe when I train and swim now I’m in the tightest jammers I can possibly fit into and my belly is proudly on display to anyone who is willing to look…whatever, I’m there to swim.

    1. HOORAYYY! Fat activism truly can be as simple as just showing up and doing what you love. You never know who might see, and be inspired.

      And now you are out there, inspiring others, too. It’s a giant love snowball!

  4. My greatest fear these days is becoming the latest headless (or not) fat photo circulating the web. Too many asshats with phone cameras at the pool/lake.

    1. I got fattiephotoed at a community festival last month. Guy thought he was being soooo smooth taking a photo of an exhibit and then “accidentally” swinging the camera away to focus on my fat self eating. I looked straight at him the whole time, making Bertface.

      Anyway, LOL @ “big flaming sack of not my problem,” because damn straight.

      I like to go to the pool, but I wish I had a suit that was both comfy (Junonia–expensive but worth it!) AND easy to peel off when wet.

      1. Is there such a thing? Didn’t matter what size body I had, I’ve never had a swimsuit that was easy to peel off when wet! You ought to try a wetsuit, especially a thick one like a 7mm. Feels like you’re wrestling with yourself – and losing!

  5. It is kinda nice to read this blog post after the events that have transpired in my life these last 3ish days.

    My man wants me to eat healthier and cut out the diet soda (I love it and drink a lot). He gave me an ultimatum tonight: Accept his restrictions (I live with him) or move out. He says that he cannot sit idly by, and watch me self-destruct, that is he just looking out for me. He basically said I made him out to be some type of monster and that me accusing him of being controlling and treating me like a child was taken personally.

    I don’t know if this is someone who genuinely cares about my health and his methods are off or if he is trying to control me. This all snowballed after I got the smallest intermittent cough that he refuses to believe is caused by anything other than my diet soda habit. People don’t get allergies during this time, he claimed.

    Psh. Let’s also not forget the fact that his entire house is coated in a thick layer of dog hair and dust. Nope — it MUST be the diet soda. I have been here since December, had diet soda every day since, and drank it well before that, get a slight cough, yet there is no other explanation than diet soda.

    Am I not worthy of being loved just as I am, unhealthy habits and all?

    1. He *is* being controlling. And yeah, airborne irritants like dust and dog hair can easily cause a cough! He sounds very unreasonable. I hope you are able to move out, whether or not you keep dating this guy. He doesn’t sound very caring to me.

    2. Yeah, the “give up the soda cuz I care about you” thing is him being controlling. And the taking it personally that you labeled this correctly – controlling behavior- is just him trying to gaslight you (i.e. mess with your head).

      That’s how abusers work- they make demands and then work to discount any objections you might have to these demands. It leaves you questioning your own judgment. This is a very effective strategy for breaking down another person’s self-esteem.

      Here’s the difference: If you both want to change a dietary habit or two, you both decide -together- to work on some discussed and subsequently agreed-upon changes. Then you both work to support each other on those agreed-upon changes.

      Right now it’s you making changes at his insistence, and then head games when you do not comply willingly.

  6. @Shaye, you are worthy. You are worthy of being loved. You are worthy of being loved just as you are.
    “My man” is worthy of being dumped.

    Seriously, I lived with a man like that. He used to use “What would people think?” to try to coerce me into doing what he wanted. These “people” lived only in his imagination. My favorite story about him involves a deserted beach in February where I brought a continental lunch. “Where are the sandwiches? Where is the fried chicken? What would people think?” I looked pointedly up and down the beach and responded “What people?” Then I pointed out that, if there were people, they would think I was worldly and sophisticated, and not so well of him. He finally made himself a sandwich with the cheese and bread. I took a picture of him with it.

    Last night I ate a continental lunch with the man I met three months after leaving the judgmental one. At the concert venue where we met 38 years ago, and have been happily married ever since. May you also have a happy ending to your story.

    1. “What would people think?”

      Hey, be happy they are at least using their brains. So many people flat out refuse to.

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