In the last few years, there has been an explosion of plus size swimsuits on the market. Whether it is brands releasing collections themselves or partnering with popular influencers to create capsule collections, swimwear for plus size women is at an all-time high.
And while I’m loving the inclusion of diverse bodies and the multitude of options for plus-size women, I can’t help but notice one trend: all the bikinis are high waisted.
When blogger Gabi Gregg popularized the term fatkini and then came out with her own collection with Swimsuits For All, I was excited. They were beautiful, sexy swimsuits. The bikinis were high waisted and that was great. Taking note of Gregg’s success and demands of plus-size women, companies immediately followed suit. Unfortunately though, they have yet to evolve. Fast forward a few years and we are now in a trend rut; all the bikini market is serving us is a carbon copy of the same high-waist design.
What started out as a trend now feels more like an attack. Where is the diversity in bikinis for plus size women? What about the plus-size women don’t mind showing their bellies and rolls and folds? Not all plus-size women are trying to emulate an hourglass shape (which high waist helps).
It feels like the 90’s when they only wanted to give plus size women one-piece bathing suits with skirts. If you were over a size 14, you could only find a brief cut one piece or one with a skirt. Yes, I’m sure that these are the silhouettes that sold, but the issue with the industry is that when it comes to trend pieces, they ignore plus-size. They’ll give you one or two silhouettes, specific patterns (florals!), and then in a copycat fashion (pun intended), everyone follows suit. This leaves us with an oversaturated market and plus-size women forced into wearing only specific types of clothing if you don’t have the skills to create your own pieces or money to buy extremely high end.
While I will be rocking my high waist bikini this summer, I am also looking for a more skin showing one as well (because, thigh brow!). I’m a size 12/14 and can shop in some straight size stores, but prefer to wear plus size brands for purpose of fit. I’ve been looking for bikini swimsuits to rock on the beach. I own 4 high waisted bikinis. I currently have one bikini bottom that shows my belly button that I bought from a store whose name no longer deserves to be said (because of their obvious racism)….five years ago. It’s so hard to find bikini bottoms that are high cut and show off your thigh meat (thank you to Rue 107 for giving me high this sexy, high cut one piece pictured above). I went to several popular websites and the assortment for plus size women and their swimsuits are brief cut, one pieces, and high waisted.
For example ASOS, where I bought the above one piece that I love. It’s a deep plunging, blush one piece with a lace cape. When I looked at their plus size and curve options, currently on site there are 43 styles and only two of them aren’t brief cut. Two. Swimsuits For All managed to be more diverse. With 82 options, about 40 of them weren’t high waist, but out of those 40 that weren’t high waist, still, 23 were brief cut. I credit Swimsuits For All diversity in cuts and silhouettes to Ashley Graham, whose collection for the brand is more “risque” than most.
Brands like Monif C., which has historically been more traditional in their swimwear, have expanded to create more diverse offerings which you can find on their website and some selections on ASOS. Fashion Nova has been dominating the e-commerce business, not only with their influencer marketing, but also because they offer straight size and plus size women similar or the same offerings. It’s not a formula to crack – they simply don’t discriminate against larger bodies.
Knowingly, or unknowingly, brands are perpetuating HOW plus size women should look on the beach. Many are toting “a beach body is just taking your body to the beach,” but only providing certain silhouettes to cover it. The message they are subconsiously sending is you have a plus-size beach body only if it’s hourglass. Your plus size body is acceptable if your belly is concealed. Yes, you have a bathing suit, but cover those thighs are rolls as much as you can!
I encourage brands and even influencers to create more string bikinis, belly-showing swimsuits and high-leg swimsuits to show off our thigh brow. We don’t need to hide our bodies or constrict them to the hourglass shape in order for them to be beautiful on a beach. If we’re truly celebrating plus size bodies, give us an array of options in which to do so. Fat is not something to conceal. We’re here using high waist to tuck it in and hide it…which is anti body positive.
I understand movements and trends take time, so maybe back in 2012 when the market more readily started to serve bikinis to plus size women, in 2018 we can have more diversity in the offerings.
So many plus size brands want to charge more because we take up “more fabric,” well, I’m asking for a little less fabric in order to provide greater representation in retail and on the beach. We don’t get to a place of true body positivity nor do we get to normalize all types of body, if we consistently force plus size women to look one way through offerings they cannot control.