The day I wore a bikini... and nothing happened.

When I told people I was going to wear a bikini to the beach, they seemed concerned…

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.


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. I remain sceptical as to the health problems bikinis cause.

A another 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 belly might attract beluga whales.

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 USA, I wore my bikini.

Jenny Trout in bikini. Picture: Bronwyn Green.

Nothing happened. The families spending the day at Hunter's Point did not flee in terror for fear of catching whatever horrible health problems bikinis cause. No one immediately stuffed fistfuls of lard into their mouths to emulate my "glorious" body. And as far as I know, there aren't any whales in Lake Superior, so their ways remain a mystery to me.

I'm not stupid; I know why people didn't want to see me in a bikini.

The reason these people do not want to see a fat body in a bikini is because traditionally, that garment is something a woman earns by proving herself attractive enough to exist. If fat women begin wearing them without shame or fear, what's next? Will they have self-esteem? Will they demand respect? Then what will keep them in their proper place? How would conventionally attractive people judge them?

As a society, we need to be more honest in our discussions of other's bodies. If we can't avoid those totally unnecessary conversations, then we should at least admit the truth to ourselves: That this has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with the control we believe is our right to exert over others.

This post was originally published here on the Huffington Post and is published with full permission.

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