The Real Secret to Getting a Beach Body

Pink Argyle Bikini
Fantastic art by Jodee Rose

Several years ago, the amazing Golda 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.

Today I got my first ad from a diet company telling me that I should buy their ridiculous product because, ostensibly, I need a different body in order to go to the beach (not that they could give it to me, even if that were true.) So today is the day that I post this!

Seriously, let’s talk about this.  It seems that a lot of people 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 love it.

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 us to hate ourselves.  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 or go to the beach.  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 (Eff 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.

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13 thoughts on “The Real Secret to Getting a Beach Body

  1. OK, I haven’t played The Sims 3 in a while, but it’s time to break out my sim-self and send her on a tropical vacation, with lots and lots and lots of swimming! Isla Paradiso, here “I” come!

    Seriously, seeing a pixelated version of myself doing awesome things without being shamed for it (because body shaming does not actually happen in The Sims 3 unless you have some sort of weird hack for it – it is not in the code), makes me feel great! I’m not very able-bodies, never was, so I can’t actually go scuba diving, and I’m too poor to afford it, but gee, I sure can visualize it.

    I wonder if I have a thong swimsuit option in the game? After reading this, I need to check, although normally, in real life, I’m a one-piece swim-dress sort of woman, because of modesty issues. But then, in the Sims 3, uncontrollable lust at seeing a less-than-fully-dressed woman is also not in the code.

    Also, something I love about this particular game is that if you start fat, and lose weight, the weight will slowly come back, if you don’t keep at it every day. You know, like real life and Science! So even if I “get my swimsuit body by summer,” it will be gone by fall. Except that it won’t, because my sim-self will be in a swimsuit from DAY ONE!!!! YES!

    In other words, gentle readers, do what works for you to psyche yourself up for body love and acceptance. This works for me (although sometimes I have to go back for a “booster shot,” as it were, as the slings and arrows of outrageous society beat me down again). Your mileage may vary.

    I want to hear what the other readers here do to psyche themselves up. Drawing? Photography? Dancing naked in the bathroom in front of the full-length mirror? Even at my lowest, I always felt beautiful when I was dancing. I love Ragen’s suggestions, and I want more.

    1. On the topic of fat science, this is how messed up society is:

      I read multiple reviews of The Sims 3 actually complaining about how the fat comes back, and how “unrealistic” that is, because “everybody knows” that weight loss is permanent, unless you pig out and do all the wrong things again. But here this game is, making you gain the weight back, simply by existing in your body, even if you don’t ever fill up your hunger meter all the way. And yet, how realistic it is that sims who start out thin tend to get thin again, if they are not pigging out every day.

      They don’t really have much in the way of ill-ness and disability in the game (although, there are some awesome mods out there, specifically for that! Use at your own risk, for coding conflicts), so PCOS and other fat-causing diseases/syndromes/etc. are not things in this game. The only way for a naturally thin sim to get fat is to stuff themselves. But if they don’t stuff themselves every day, their genetics win out, and they get thin again, without ever having to do cardio.

      OH! And you can choose between cardio and strength workouts. I Love having my fat sim be strong, and fooling people who take one look at her and think “weakling.”

      I don’t know if they changed it, or how they changed it in Sims 4, because I don’t play Sims 4, but whoever did the coding for Sims 3 got it RIGHT!

      Maybe they read your site?

    2. I do photography. I’ve been buying a lot of cowcow dresses (unicorn, cats in space, desserts, ice cream, cat face with polka dot skirt, plus a donut bathing suit) and when I get them (I order from Amazon) I get out my Nikon, set up my great-grandpa’s tripod, go outside in front of my brick wall on my house and take shot after shot using the smile timer (that takes photos when you smile at the camera). I always end up with a few photos that turn out great that I can post to instagram and my fat acceptance group on Facebook and to my profile on Facebook. It makes me feel great. When I got my first unicorn dress I was really shy about wearing it in public, because it’s kooky and its bright pink, but I just started wearing it out and I got to loving everything about wearing these wild dresses in public.
      My advice to anyone worried about wearing that dress or going to that beach or wishing they had the confidence that they feel like other glorious fatties exhibit, is fake it til you make it. Wear the dress. Then wear it again. In my case I got lots of compliments on the dress (because…. Unicorns!) and I just kept going.
      Of course I do think I’m very privileged because I don’t live in the city and I live in Tennessee, so I think there is much less overt fat hate in my area. I hardly ever encounter it, and I wear a 4x in most things. Sometimes I can fit in a 3x. I also think I fit closer to the societal expectations of beauty, and maybe that’s why I don’t get harassed.

        1. I love setting up photography sessions for myself. I also had to do this to teach me how to smile again because I have full dentures and I had terrible teeth for years and got to only smiling with closed lips. It felt so forced and to me it looked very fake and forced when I smiled for pictures after getting my dentures, but using the smile timer on the camera has forced me to make big smiles at the camera until it recognizes a smiling face and eventually it started feeling natural and looking natural to me. I got my full bottom dentures at a different time than my uppers so I had to go through the learning experience twice. I just hated how my bottom dentures changed the look of my face when I was wearing them. Now I wear them all the time and take pictures if them all the time and I think my smile and face looks great.

          1. That’s great! There are a lot more ways than just fat that society tells us we are not good enough, and we need to find ways that work for us to embrace all those parts of ourselves, and see the beauty that others can’t or won’t see. Because that beauty IS there!

    Have a body. Go stand on a beach. You now have A BEACH BODY!
    Yay sign me up(and then come get me,I don’t drive.)!
    Truthfully, I am just under 400 pounds and a bathing suit is hard. BUT I would put up with just about anything to go swimming!

    1. This is so smart, I lived almost my entire life in Southern California and went to the beach maybe 2 dozen times. If I would has been just more like this I would have enjoyed myself more.

  3. I truly love your common sense about having a beach body! we all need to just worry about whether we’re having fun and that nobody is drowning- that’s pretty much it! When I’m at the lake, sometimes I just strip to my undies because I didn’t plan to swim that day. My mother is horrified but frankly I don’t want to miss out because my clothing isn’t technically a bathing suit.
    As to other people- let them think what they want- it only shows their level of prejudice and sometimes sadly society makes us think that way and it’s hard to find a way out of that box.
    When I was 20, MANY years ago I remember so clearly feeling outraged that a woman dared to rock a bikini “at her size”. I wasn’t much smaller mind but at least I had the decency to cover up more. I shake my head at how young and brain washed I was- these days I am her (especially at the lake:) and I celebrate how far I’ve come.

    thanks for all your great words and simple common sense.


  4. I want practical summer advice.

    How old can your sunscreen be and still work? How much should you use (a lot!)?

    How do you cross the hot sand between your blanket and the water? How do you get said sand off your feet when you get back to your blanket?

    How do you keep your stuff safe?

    If you are at a lake without a sandy beach, how do you cope with the gooey lake bottom and all the seaweed (lakeweed?)?

    Not beach related, but what do you do when it’s hot out and your animals want to snuggle?

    1. Swim shoes are absolutely wonderful! Hot sand? Not a problem. Gritty concrete at the pool? Not a problem. Sandy shoes? Slip them off and your feet are clean.

      As for the rest, I don’t know.

    2. I think you can use it up to a year after the expiry, but we have some that is older, and it still works, but probably for less time. If you’re going out for 4 yrs, neither old nor new would work, as you have to keep reapplying, but for 30 mins, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

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