Yesterday was National Bikini Day according to the interwebs, and of course, to celebrate, many women donned bikinis everywhere (including to work!) to celebrate the suit's 68th birthday. Oh wait, no, they didn't.
Instead, a ranking of the best bikini bodies of all time was published by Swimwear365, a U.K.-based swimwear company that encourages women with apple-shaped bodies (aka a large portion of women who've given birth) to wear tankinis. As for the top three, which is currently trending on Facebook, I ask you: Who cares? Honestly, it's ridiculous that blogs and magazines are still sharing pictures of women at the beach or at the pool and ranking them against each other. Media outlets that are supposedly by women and for women are behaving just as badly as frat boys calling out digits at female passers-by.
There's so much harm perpetuated by the narrow representation of the "ideal" bikini body, and to be honest, the only reason why it's shoved down our throats so much in the first place is because there's a lot of money to be made by taking advantage of someone's insecurities. The overpriced, dream-crushing industry of exercise, health, and fitness depends on the "bikini body" ideal to suck women into its venomous trap. What's worse is that Swimwear 365 surveyed 2,000 women—that's a small number proportionately, but it's still far too many women who had no qualms about choosing the "hottest bikini babes of all time."
The truth is, the only REAL bikini body is just a body with a bikini. There are no magical abs, perfect shapes, or pre-determined measurements that equate. It is what it is.
When I was 14, I would spend hours staring at these slideshows, memorizing pictures of women with unattainable bodies, and comparing myself to them. Hating myself, loving them, hating myself even more for caring so much. Only five percent of women have the body of your typical Victoria's Secret model. And yet, it's sold as an attainable, just barely out of reach dream for the 95 percent of women who don't have it, regardless of how many actually want it.
By all means, celebrate the bikini. Celebrate it for how tan it lets our pale, vitamin D-deficient bellies get. Celebrate it because women are no longer blasted for revealing their ankles in public (quite the scandal at one time). But don't celebrate the thin, conventionally beautiful women who've "not only brought the bikini to life but made it what it is today" according to Swimwear 365.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and that's not limited to a clothes-only variety. It's true on the beach, at the pool, and in films. Hell, it's even true when we're tanning in our front yards or on our fire escapes. We've worked so hard to change society's limited, demeaning beauty standards. Why stop now?
Top photo of GabiFresh by Kat Borchart
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