“The Myth of the ‘Bikini Body’”

Countless tabloids, glossy magazines, and fitness publications boasting sprawling headlines about this summer’s BEST BIKINI BODIES beg the question: What is a ‘bikini body’?

Do I have one? Do you? A ‘bikini body’, that is. Most of us don’t look like any of the photographs of glamorous six-foot-tall celebrities walking on beaches wearing itty bitty bathing suits, although I do own a few adorable two-piece swimsuits from last season that I’ve been waiting for months to put on again in anticipation of summer.

Is having a ‘bikini body’ a condition for purchasing swimwear? I definitely can’t recall ever having to sign off on my last few bathing suit purchases at the register, signing forms and taking surveys about my ‘bikini body’ or lack thereof. I’m pretty sure I’d remember something like that.

The fact is, ‘bikini bodies’ as tabloids and celebrity-centric magazines would have us understand them, aren’t real. What are real, however, are bodies – of every shape, size, color, age – bodies of all kinds wearing bikinis. Swimwear is fashion that has been taken hostage by tabloid columns that perpetuate myths about this perfect ‘bikini body’. These myths compromise a woman’s relationship with her body, with her own body image, when really, a ‘bikini body’ is any body, yours and mine included, that has a bikini on it.

Swimwear, like most fashionable clothing, should be stylish, functional (it is meant for swimming, after all), and most importantly, accessible to everyone. It should make the person wearing it feel comfortable and beautiful. Buying into ideas about the ideal ‘bikini body’ doesn’t leave much room for how much fun and individualized fashion can be, or much hope for one’s own body image. This season, let’s ditch the glossy magazines that sell myths about our own bodies, and find great styles of swimsuits at places like Modcloth and Lands’ End, where body types of all kinds are celebrated and dressed fabulously.

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