The "Bikini Body": damaging to the mind, the self and the enjoyability of summer fashion

Kait Kelly discusses the concept of the "bikini body" especially relevant in this month of January when gym memberships soar and advertisements for health products flood our televisions. 


The bikini-body is a strange entity. Toned, slender and perfectly tanned, it sits prim and proper as the perfect example of the human form. Always advertised as smiling, vibrant and enthusiastic, the bikini-body seems to outshine every example placed next to it with an air of superiority. Such an entity is, most strongly after the Christmas season ends, dangled in front of us as the key to all our clothing-related anxieties: if we looked like this, and exactly this, then wearing that more revealing bikini sitting at the bottom of our underwear draw doesn’t seem so scary after all.

Pushed by the fitness industry with an infectious force, a variety of recipes, diet plans, shakes, pills, potions, powders, supplements, corsets, weights, and exercise regimes swarm into every nook and cranny of society and claim to give us the key to such bikini-wearing certification. We are told that after, and only after, ‘toning up’, ‘leaning out’ and ‘slimming down for summer’, will we be able to squeeze and preen ourselves into that bikini, that pair of summer shorts or that swimsuit – the piece of hot-weather clothing we’ve always wished we could wear, but felt too self - conscious to do so. 

So, we have the key to wearing a bikini now, right? We just have to chug this shake, force ourselves to the gym for two hours or swallow this pill at breakfast until we begin to resemble the dream of the perfect bikini-body. After hours of sweating it out at the gym, not touching pastries and drinking obscene amounts of suspicious-smelling tea that only seems to provide an unpleasant laxative experience, we will finally, after all this time and all this anxiety, we able to wear the more revealing clothes we want – right?

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, until it cannot be said any more. Such a body, such an image of perfection and achievement, does not exist – the bikini-body, the body that allows us to wear more revealing clothes and gives us the credibility and argument behind wearing more scanty items of clothing, does not exist. It is completely, utterly and undoubtedly false. Bodies exist, yes – but bikini-bodies perfectly tailored to wear bikinis, shorts, tight dresses and crop tops, do not. These ‘bodies’ are a toxic, self-deprecating fabrication created to suit the false idea that ‘thin’, ‘skinny’, ‘toned’ and ‘slender’ is ‘better’. Such an agenda is ruining the possibility for body-confidence and self-acceptance, but also taking the fun and adventure out of fashion.

 

Whatever your shape, the dreaded bikini-body should not stand as a looming barrier to wearing the outfits of your desire: it should not stand as something to push yourself up against, compare yourself to and harm yourself greatly in a desperate attempt to reach. The fear of not being fit and slim should not stand in your way of choosing outfits that make you feel amazing – there is no prescribed body that stands alone as the only example of the human form able to wear particular outfits. The idea that slimmer, fitter people are the only people able to wear bikinis, skinny jeans, tight dresses, crop tops or plunging necks is ludicrous. If the bikini you see hanging up in your favourite shop suits your style and makes you excited to wear it, take the plunge and do it – make the choice and love your body, not the expectations of a warped society.

And this warped society is the crux of the bikini-body issue; although we believe such an image to be real, it simply isn’t. In reality, every single body is different and unique – we have different lumps, bumps, curves and folds compared to the person standing next to us. While you may have slender arms, the person next to you may have muscly arms, or squishy arms, or short arms, or long arms, but the only thing that matters is this: each type, each variation, is beautiful in itself. 

YOU are enough. Your wobbly bits, your toned bits, your flabby bits, your straight bits, long bits, they are all enough. Your body, in a bikini or not, is absolutely, undoubtedly and one hundred-percent enough. So, take the plunge – the next time you are assaulted by another squadron of bikini-body promoters trying to make you shy away from an item of clothing you love, chose yourself instead. Chose yourself and chose your ability to pick the clothes you love without fear.