Gabi Gregg approached the Website, JaneXO, to post positive, happy pictures of larger women in bikini She writes, "I know first-hand how inspiring it can be to see people with bodies that look similar to my own feeling confident and happy on the beach in something other than a Hawaiian-print skirted one piece."
She posted, and others soon followed.
Jezebel picked up on the post and posted one of the pictures. The reaction from their readers was interesting ...
Gabi continues: "As a size 18, my swimwear posts tend to gain way more traffic (on my bog) than my regular outfit posts. I attribute this to the fact that our culture is so obsessed with having a "beach ready bod," that the mere idea of someone my size in a swimsuit, let alone a bikini, is shocking to most."
" A lot of the comments were along the lines of "Of course she has confidence! She's a toned, hourglass-shaped plus size woman! I could never wear a bikini! I'm so flabby!"
What is it with us women? Is body judgement and competition so embedded in our psyches, that we cannot help ourselves but strike blows no matter what body shape we are confronted with?
That even when a gallery is crafted in order to make women feel better about themselves, blame, comparison and competition creep in?
I think this bravery is worthy of applause and celebration. It takes a lot for 99% of us to be photographed in a swimsuit. Let alone a bikini, let alone if we are "carrying a few extra kilos" (or more than a few.)
Turning on ourselves is harmful. Why must there be competition, criticism, defensiveness and excuses from within the tribe when faced with these images? Why can't we just applaud? If a larger woman is toned and hour-glass shaped? Great. That's lovely. And natural.
And, in my opinion, for what it's worth, every human being can work towards being a bit more toned, a bit less flabby. THAT is what exercise accomplishes. Current thinking may be that getting off one's butt does not a huge amount for weight-loss, but I can tell you it does a huge amount for toning, flab fighting and self-esteem.
And you can get that result no matter what shape you are.
I think images like these are important. Shame and judgement make people hide away and they hide, the less society gets used to seeing bodies like these in a positive light.
It takes courage and is also normalising "fat" is a dangerous balancing act. after all, not to hurt anyone's feelings, but obesity is as serious a killer in this country as AIDs is.
But most of these women are not at all unhealthy. They are just shaped differently to the very narrow band of acceptable body shapes generally celebrated in media. (Yes, yes, I know I'm a part of that media, but COSMO and our other mags are rigorous in representing diversity, so give me a hard time if you like, but be warned, I have ammunition to defend myself.)
So, let's salute the bravery, celebrate the diversity ...
Stop blaming and making excuses ... (Isn't this chick BEAUTIFUL? Aren't they ALL?)
... and get off the sofa and go for a walk?
Then look at the clouds and think happy thoughts.
Read more at JaneXO/Gabifresh, or Gabifresh.