Even as curves become more fashionable, many plus-size men and women still struggle to feel comfortable in their own skin, especially when faced with wearing a bathing suit in public.
People can be cruel. Even when no words are said, looks alone can cause our insecurities to flare up. “I’m a plus-size woman who just dared to wear a bikini for the first time ever,” wrote Marie Southard Ospina via Bustle.
Ospina was nervous about her decision to bare it all in low-cut bottoms paired with a bikini top, but she decided to do it anyway.
The plus size fashion blogger was inspired to do so after reading about another woman’s experience doing a similar thing, only in a high-waisted swimsuit.
Ospina took it one step further, wearing a pair of low-cut bottoms. She decided to document the reactions she got from people as she passed them on the beach.
“I’ve never worn a low-rise bikini, not even when I was at my slimmest in high school or as a child. I’ve feared how vulnerable it would make me, much like I’ve feared purchasing plus-size lingerie for the same reason,” Ospina wrote for Bustle.
While strolling the beach, she noted that many people responded positively or not at all. Although, some people reacted negatively.
She wrote about how the majority of negativity came from younger couples. It didn’t surprise her that men were usually the first to point her out to their partners.
“Three young couples in total looked at me mockingly, and in each instance, it was the man who alerted the woman to my presence,” writes Ospina.
Ospina is fairly confident the woman would have never even noticed her if it weren’t for the male pointing her out. “It’s almost as if the men were so offended,” she pens.
Older couples took the cake for politeness and tended to be the least judgmental, in Ospina’s opinion. She said their stares were politer, encouraging, and even kind. Giving her hope that the younger couples would someday “outgrow their intolerance.”
You can’t lump everyone into the same group – it wasn’t just younger couples who were rude. She mentions one middle aged man at the beach with his family who she overheard calling her names. Ospina can get over the name-calling, what upset her the most was that he was raising his children to be hateful.
“I don’t doubt that fat phobia, along with any other phobia directed at groups of human beings, is often learned behavior. But seeing it in action threw me completely off guard, and was, in some senses, the most devastating part of the experiment,” she writes about the reaction from the middle-aged name-caller.
Groups of girls huddled together often stared at the busty beauty as she walked by.
She overheard one woman whisper to her friends, “Look at that fat woman.” Ospina said her tone didn’t indicate rudeness, more shock and surprise
To Ospina’s delighted surprise, she wasn’t the only plus-size woman wearing a bikini at the beach that day.
“A handful of times we’d catch sight of each other and we’d smile. Solidarity amongst women is a powerful thing, especially when it’s women you just know can relate to what you’re going through.”
At the end of the day, Ospina said the majority of people didn’t bat an eye or even seem to notice her. She adds that if she hadn’t been purposely seeking out peoples’ reactions, she might not have noticed anyone staring or making comments.
The experience ended up boosting her confidence, and she encourages women of all shapes and sizes to wear whatever bathing suit they want.
Even though most people are quick to judge something they don’t see as “normal,” we can’t let it get to us. After all, who wants to be normal in this extraordinary world?
“Rather, it is our perceptions and close-mindedness toward the different, the obscure or the quirky that need to change. And in the meantime, the only way to normalize the ‘abnormal’ is to embrace it — to wear the bikini if you want to, or dress in drag if you so please.”