Why I’m not excited about Ashley Graham’s ad in Sports Illustrated

ashley graham swimsuits for all ad

The internet’s been all abuzz with the news that Sports Illustrated‘s 2015 swimsuit issue will include an ad featuring plus size model Ashley Graham.

Yay?

As much as I care about fat representation in media, and as much as I think Ashley Graham is gorgeous and probably a lovely person, I can’t bring myself to care. This doesn’t feel like a step forward to me, for three reasons.

First, although Graham is a plus size model, she’s smaller than most women who actually wear plus sizes. In fact, as a tall size 14/16, she is likely thinner than the average American woman. Magazines have been including token hourglass-shaped, barely-plus-sized models for years; more of the same doesn’t feel particularly revolutionary.

Second, she is appearing in a Swimsuits for All ad, not a magazine feature. SI didn’t say, “Hey, let’s feature a (marginally) more diverse group of women;” they just accepted an ad from a company that was paying them to do so. They’re getting all this positive attention for something that took no effort on their part, and in fact is making them money.

Third, and most important: I don’t feel that it’s progress for fat women to be objectified too. SI‘s swimsuit issue is pretty much the epitome of the male gaze: its entire purpose is putting women in skimpy swimwear for men’s enjoyment. Even if SI had included an actual fat woman in an actual feature–even if, say, they had put Tess Munster/Holliday on the cover–I’d still be less than thrilled.

I just can’t see more objectification of women as a thing to celebrate. I’d rather see SI‘s swimsuit issue stop existing, or at least become culturally irrelevant–or be complemented by an equivalent, equally popular issue full of guys in skimpy swimwear. But a slight expansion in the standards of the sexist status quo just doesn’t do it for me.

 

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OOTD: My sort-of fatkini

I’ve been looking for a fatkini for a while, and I haven’t been able to find one–most of the ones I come across are either halters, high-waisted, or just not my style.  But while I was looking, I found this Swimsuits For All* tankini set, which does show a strip of midriff if I adjust it the right way. I’m such a sucker for dark florals, and it also has really cute pink bows on the sides.

I wore it to a lake today, and I am happy to report that it was comfortable and fun to wear. It was the first time this summer I’ve made it out to go swimming, and I’m so glad I did. There’s nothing like being in the water on a hot day. 🙂

plus size black floral tankini bathing suit outfit at lake

plus size woman wearing two piece black floral swimsuit standing in lake Continue reading

Dear fatkini manufacturers…

I’ve ranted about this before, but I’m going to rant about it again, because summer is coming up and I really, really want to find a fatkini. I’ve read so much about the transformative power of going out in public with your belly showing, and I want to experience that. I want to feel the sun on my squishy, stretch-marked belly. I want to say, “This is my body, and it’s a bikini body!”

Last year, I tried one of Gabi Gregg’s Swimsuits for All bikinis, hoping that maybe maybe a halter top would work for me…but no. Even tied loosely, the halter hurt my neck; tied tightly, it still didn’t give enough support. And no matter how I tied it, there was imminent boob-escapage. So I returned it, and I’ve been on the hunt for a non-halter fatkini ever since.

woman wearing hot pink gabi gregg swimsuits for all fatkini bikini with pink rose crown

I’m still looking. Jess Baker just posted a roundup of 18 fatkinis, many of which are really cute…and 16 of which are halters.

In both her list, and my searches around the plus size internet, the only alternative to halter tops seems to be tops with built-in underwires. I’d be willing to give them a try, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t be comfortable on me either–I don’t even wear underwire bras. I just hate having pokey things poking me.

Why won’t anyone make a fatkini with a mesh bra-like thing, which is what my one-piece has? I don’t know what’s it’s actually called, but it’s comfortable and reasonably supportive. I love, love, love my one-piece:

fat woman standing on the beach wearing a rainbow striped one-piece swimsuit

(It’s by a brand called Longitude Women’s, and my mom found it at either TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, in case anyone is looking for something similar.) Seriously, I wish someone would just make a bikini that’s exactly like my one-piece, but without the middle. How hard can it be?