What is a “Bikini Body” ?

Photography by Khaila King

Body confidence is easier said than done. 

In the age of acceptance that is 2021, it’s easy to claim that all bodies are accepted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or a 24, your body is socially acceptable. 

It’s wishful thinking. Because it’s not how the world views women. 

From body shaming bigger women to workout more and eat less and encouraging smaller girls to just eat something, it feels like your body is never enough. You’re either too big or too small, you can’t win — and nothing highlights this more than swimsuit season. 

The “bikini body” is the perfect example of the unattainable standards set for women. You must look a certain way or else you’re not only undesirable, but unwanted as a person. There has become a narrative that the only “bikini body” is a thin one. For people donning bikinis, the dream body is slim thick with Kardashian-esque curves while keeping a flat stomach and thin legs. Thick thighs, perfect perky double Ds and the ass that every Instagram model owns, this is the standard for summer time. 

The problem isn’t only the hype around a “swimsuit body,” it’s also how unachievable that body truly is. 

With photo editing software like Photoshop and Facetune on the rise in popularity, it’s no wonder young women have an unachievable standard of beauty. Even the models they want to look like don’t look like that.

In a TikTok from May 17, @victoriagarrick4 showcased the utilization of video editing software to display just how easy it is to fake a “perfect” body online. The video contains Victoria posing in a string bikini, showing off her flat stomach and thin figure only for the filter to come off and reveal that she has a completely different body. 

The pressure to make yourself perfect isn’t new, and neither is body modification — digital and physical — which is why it’s time to accept women for what they look like. 

Unfortunately, this task is easier said than done. Body acceptance can be preached all day long, but there are a multitude of societal barriers that women face, especially within the fashion industry. The fact is that stylish clothing – especially swimwear – is not equally available to all body types. 

The world of plus-sized fashion is starkly different from the tiny, trendy, Brandy Melville-esque clothing that dominates women’s Instagram explore tabs. Plus-sized clothing is not made with the intent to show off larger bodies. Instead, it is made to hide them. 

The amount of bikinis made for larger bodies is largely overshadowed by one-pieces or tankinis, which sends a clear message: plus-sized bodies should cover up. 

So, how do we normalize bikini bodies when the fashion industry doesn’t make bikinis for all bodies? A plus sized woman has little to no access to affordable, trendy summer swimsuits that aren’t attempting to hide the fact that they’re plus sized. They want to, and should be able to show off their bodies the same way a size 0 can.

All women deserve access to swimwear that empowers them and makes them feel confident in themselves – not something that makes them feel as though they shouldn’t even be wearing a swimsuit in the first place. 

A body that has a bikini on it is a bikini body. A trans woman has a bikini body. A size 22 has a bikini body, so does a size 6. It’s not about fitting into a trend or modifications, it’s about beauty coming in literally every size — and recognizing that body diversity is just as beautiful as the size 0 you see on your phone screen. 

Authors: Curren Gauss and Katie Freeman

Photographer: Khaila King

Styling: Taylor Felder

Makeup Artists: India Hall of Aesthetic Artists Agency and Katie Freeman. 

Hair Stylists: Shaina Coats and Olive Heinecke.

Agencies: Rune Models and LModelz.

Talent: Chloe Chua (Rune), Carlee Lefebvre (Rune), Camerynn Phillips (Rune), Anahi Mendoza (Rune) and Elcie Lydie (LModelz).

Special thanks to Karla Snider of The Cosmopolitan on the Canal.

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