Amanda Crum
May 09, 2016 8:38 am

With summertime approaching here in the States, you’re likely to see an influx of headlines and ads that talk about getting your “bikini body” ready. Unfortunately, those headlines tend to do more harm than good, because they feed into the idea that you have to physically change yourself before you’re “allowed” to wear a particular clothing item.

At the root of this problematic theory is the same old song and dance women have been subjected to for centuries: dress yourself according to what others find appealing/unoffensive. Shave your hair! Cinch your waist until you feel like a can of busted biscuit dough! Get a tan! The list goes on and on. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, women railed against the standards set upon them for decades and fought to wear bikinis, which were considered to be an affront to the moralistic attitudes of the day. Nowadays if we don’t have runway-ready bods we’re supposed to eschew two-pieces in favor of…what? Turn-of-the-century bathing dresses? Nuns’ habits?

Women of all ages often take heat from people they don’t even know for their bathing suit choices (and I’m not excluding men here, because they get critiqued too), and sometimes it leads to bullying and fat-shaming. Actress/singer Selena Gomez learned firsthand just how devastating it can be when she shared a photo of herself on vacation last year while wearing a suit that was a tad too small for her. The hateful comments rolled in, but Gomez told Ellen DeGeneres that she wasn’t going to let the shamers win; instead, she fired back with another photo on Instagram and a caption about loving herself. Later, she said she couldn’t imagine what it might be like for school-age kids in the digital age.

“Yeah, it was the first time I’d ever been called fat. But it was weird because it’s not just, ‘Oh, she’s fat.’ It’s like, ‘She’s a mess. She’s gone off the deep end.’ I’m like, because I’m on a vacation wearing a bathing suit? Actually, technically, that is a little too small for me, but I didn’t care. That’s so degrading…Look, I don’t what them to win. It’s so annoying when I see it all over the place and everybody thinks they can bring me down. So my immediate response was, I’m gonna post a picture and I’m like, ‘I’m happy with me ya’ll,’ and that was gonna be the story the next day. I wasn’t gonna let that be the story. That wasn’t the story,” Gomez said.

Model Tess Holliday has been a very vocal proponent for body positivity — as well as the idea that a “bikini body” is simply a body wearing a bikini — starting the #effyourbeautystandards movement and purposely sharing photos of herself that aren’t magazine-airbrushed so her followers can see the real person behind the idea. While Holliday says that sometimes the term “body positive” gets mixed up with confusing agendas (often from clothing companies), she’s grateful for the support she’s gotten over the past couple of years.

“This community completely changed my life. It gave me the group of friends that I have. It opened my eyes to so many injustices, and so many amazing things as well…If it wasn’t for this community, I wouldn’t have what I do,” Holliday told Bustle.

Basically, what it all boils down to is this: wear what you’re most comfortable in. Wear what makes you feel like the best version of yourself. If you’re a size two and feel like rocking that retro one-piece you found at Modcloth, go for it. If you’re a size 18 and a gingham bikini will make you feel like Bettie Page at the beach, GET ON IT, MAMA, and leave the shaming where it belongs: square on the heads of the Game Of Thrones writers for messing with our emotions.

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