I’m Stephanie, I’m fat and I love a good bikini.
If you had told me 15 years ago that I would be strutting around in a two-piece, enjoying myself, I would have laughed in your face and called you quite the fool. Growing up fat in the UK did not provide me with the most diverse choice of swimwear. The most we were afforded were grim patterned tankinis, black misshapen swimsuits that wouldn’t look out of place in the Victorian era and ill-fitting swim shorts that always seemed to find their way lodged in my unmentionables.
The lack of functioning, aesthetically pleasing plus-size swimwear seemed, at the time, a mere fantasy. For me, the prospect of even wearing a two-piece was one met with disbelief and, at times, revulsion. “Who would want to see all your lumps and bumps on the beach anyway?” I would tell myself. I would turn up on the beach wearing a black T-shirt and cycling shorts, feeling hotter than the sun, but safe in the knowledge that at least I wasn’t showing all my bits to the public.
However, fast forward to the mid-Noughties and, over the last couple of years, the rise of plus-size bikinis has become big business. Social-media sites like Instagram and Twitter are filled with amazing pictures of plus-size women in gorgeous swimwear pieces. Hashtags such as #Fatkini, #PlusSizeSwimwear and #RespectMyRolls have given those of us who once felt too shy to wear swimwear in public a voice, and a safe space in which we can all feel confident about our bodies.
This surge in body positivity hasn’t gone unnoticed by brands, with a magnitude of different outlets such as River Island Plus, Evans, ASOS, Boohoo and Boden now offering a huge assortment of swimsuits and bikini separates. This year I've bought a gorgeous two-piece from Viva Voluptuous.
The choice has vastly improved since I was a teenager; I can now shop with confidence, knowing that I can get a variety of different cuts to suit my shape, be it high-waisted bottoms, a mid-rise bikini, a cut-out swimsuit or a glamorous one-piece. The world of swimwear is now ours for the taking. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. I asked some of my blogger friends for their tips and advice on buying swimwear.
KAT HENRY (HENRYSKAT.CO.UK)
Your clothing choices are no one else's business – if you like it, wear it. So, my top tip for swimwear shopping is wear whatever the heck you like.
For bigger boobs, perhaps try fully wired bra-style bikinis with high waists, from brands like Curvy Kate, Panache, Pour Moi and Viva Voluptuous. Simply Be and Yours Clothing have some fabulous options for bold-print swim-dresses, one-pieces and tankinis. There is no reason these days to not look as sensational in swimwear as we do fully clothed. Try it all and pick what makes you feel good.
Chloe Pierre (ChloePierre.com)
My tips are: always look for swimwear with built-in support; go colourful and don't take it too seriously; consider your shape for styles which will flatter you, but also match your personality.
Georgina Grogan (shemightbeloved.com)
Normally, I'd say to invest in swimwear, but there are so many amazing options now, at such affordable prices, that instead I've been going for lots of options in brighter and bolder styles and colours; trying things that, a few years ago, I wouldn't have picked up. I love to have a variety of two-pieces, bikinis, swim-dresses and swimsuits – having a good mix means you can wear what suits you on the day.
My swimwear tips are:
1. Be beach body-ready: you have a body – now hit the beach. Life is too short to be hot and uncomfortable. Wear what swimwear you feel good in, regardless of your size.
2. Don't worry about people’s opinions. If you are on holiday, chances are you will never see these people again. Don't make yourself unhappy worrying about what they may think.
My favourite swimwear of all time is this amazing Ewa Michalak high-waisted bottom and bikini top combo. It is made to measure, meaning the support and comfort is second to none.