This year, I made a New Year’s resolution that confused some people. By confuse, I mean conversations about it usually went like this:
Me: “Next summer, I’m going to wear a bikini.”
Them: “What a great goal! What are you doing? Weight Watchers? Jenny Craig? Are you going vegan? Paleo? Are you having the surgery?”
Me: “I said I was going to wear a bikini. I didn’t say I was going to lose weight.”
Them: Face melts off like they’re staring into the Arc of The Covenant.
I didn’t understand why this was so hard to grasp. By now, everyone on the Internet has heard the saying, “How to get a bikini body: Put a bikini on your body.” The “fatkini” was news last summer, and in such demand that finding one, even through the powers of the Internet, was difficult. This year, I was prepared; I ordered mine in March.
No one I had the above conversation with had the audacity to tell me directly that I shouldn’t wear a bikini because my fatness would offend their eyes. Not one person would admit that they didn’t want me to wear a bikini because of their aesthetic preference — a preference that is shaped by our cultural perceptions of what is and isn’t beautiful. But that wasn’t the reason these people didn’t want me to wear a bikini. Of course, it could never be as shallow as that.
The most common concern was my health. Presumably I, as a fat woman, would not know how to properly operate the complicated piece of equipment known as a bikini. What if I strangled in all the straps and ties? What if I became distracted by the complexity of spandex, a substance heretofore unknown to me, and wandered blindly into traffic? What if I ate it? I’m not sure what all these well-meaning people thought was going to happen to me. Blood pressure, heart problems, joint problems and cholesterol were all brought up, but I didn’t see any kind of warning label anywhere on the suit that suggested the Surgeon General had investigated these claims. I remain skeptical as to the health problems bikinis cause.
The secondary concern seemed to be that I would be “glorifying obesity.” I was going to look so good in my bikini, I would make others question their perceptions of beauty and body size? It seems like that’s more of an inducement to wear the bikini than not to wear it. And it’s a lovely compliment; I never knew I was so gorgeous as to make people rethink their lifestyles. Move over, Helen of Troy; Jenny Trout is going to wage a war on good health and fit bodies!
A third type of person only worried about my comfort: “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a one piece?” Or perhaps I would be more comfortable if I didn’t go to the beach at all. If I venture into the water in a bikini, the sight of my melanin-deficient Michigan belly might attract beluga whales. Sure, I could secretly live among them and learn their ancient ways, but I couldn’t keep that kind of ruse up forever. One day, they would learn of my betrayal, sparking tense conflict between humans and those gentle giants of the sea.
I am ashamed to say that despite all the dire prophecies, I ignored the advice and warnings leveled at my bikini resolution and, in late June, on a cold beach in Copper Harbor, Michigan, I wore my bikini.