Since launching the #TakeThePledge campaign and posting plus size bikini photos from my trip to Costa Rica, I have been overwhelmed by the number of women who have contacted me to say that they’ve felt inspired to buy a bikini to wear on holiday for the first time.
I wanted to write this post to let you all know that I’ve been there too, girls! My road to wearing a bikini and feeling body confident has been a long and rocky one but also realistic and I want to share it with you. I’d love to say that I came singing and dancing out of the womb wearing a two piece but thats just not the case and while I’m so confident in a bikini now, I haven’t always felt this way.
I hope that my words come across in the way that I intend them to, with no offence or upset intended; this is simply my journey, how I’ve felt along the way, what I’ve learned and how I feel now.
It took me until the age of 28 before I ever wore a bikini and while I don’t like to live life with regrets, I wish I’d worn one sooner. I’ve discovered that bikinis fit me far better than any swimwear ever has because I’m so long in the body, thanks to my low hanging tummy. Plus, I’m far more cool around the pool when I wear one and I get the most awesome tan. Its a win-win situation all round!
I had my first experience of wearing a bikini last January when I was taking a much needed social media break in the Maldives. I was staying in a water bungalow facing out to the Indian Ocean and I was determined to return uber relaxed and with the most incredible tan.
When holiday shopping around Christmas 2016, I decided to take the plunge and order a bikini. Generally speaking, I buy the vast majority of my swimwear from Simply Be; they have the best range of plus size swimwear in a multitude of sizes, styles and designs and over the years, I’ve always been able to find something for myself on there. When it came to ordering my first ever bikini, Simply Be was naturally my first point of call.
Trying on my first proper bikini was an exhilarating experience; I’d never worn one before, not even as a child, and I’d always thought that I wasn’t the right shape for a bikini and that I would find more confidence wearing a swimsuit around the pool. Feeling restricted to swimsuits didn’t stop me from enjoying my holidays. I’d just find one that I loved the pattern, colours or style of and that covered my tummy and then I’d head on out and have an awesome time.
I’ve never been someone who felt like they had to keep their clothes on around the pool because I’ve always been able to appear outwardly confident which has meant that I’ve always been quite happy to lie around in a swimming costume catching the rays and loving life. My size has never stopped me from enjoying a holiday in that way. I liked how my swimming costumes looked and I was confident that they were the best fit that I was ever going to get from what was available to me online.
However now I know that there isn’t a “right shape” for a bikini or any garment for that matter, its all about finding something that you love and feel great in, then that item is right for you.
When my bikinis arrived from Simply Be, I popped them on and stood looking at myself amazed in the mirror. I’d chosen styles, colours and patterns that I felt would suit me and ordered several different sizes in each piece to give me the best chance of getting an accurate fit, in just the same way as I have done in the past with swimming costumes and tankinis and low and behold, they did suit me. In fact, they were a better fit! Not only that but I felt absolutely incredible in them and I remember dancing around my bedroom feeling absolutely elated!
While away on holiday, I chose to wear my new bikinis over my swimming costumes around 80% of the time and I felt so fantastic for it. I was able to chill out and relax in the sun, get an awesome tan (safely thanks to my favourite Clarins SPF) and keep cooler than I would in a swimming costume.
Such a great experience gave me the confidence to try bikinis on future holidays and believe it or not, IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE. I know, shock horror!
When I ventured to Bali that summer to stay at the incredible Bliss Sanctuary For Women and then to Crete on a much needed girly holiday, I looked at the bikinis I had, what I loved and didn’t like about each one and then I sought to improve my choices for those trips to enable me to feel even more bikini confident.
In Bali, I was at a retreat with a small number of women and I was wearing the most fabulous sarongs over the top of my bikini while I was walking around. One day, I got up off the sun lounger, thought oh to hell with it, and walked to my room without putting the sarong on and do you know what happened? NOTHING. Not a single bloody thing.
By the time I got to Crete with my friend I was strutting around the pool as happy as an orca released from Sea World without a care in the world and finally I thought, I’m living.
I’d suddenly got over myself and realised that people were far too busy enjoying their own holidays around the pool to pay any attention to what I was wearing and if there was anyone out there that was bothered about what I looked like in anything I was wearing, around the pool or on social media for that matter, then they really needed to focus on improving their own happiness rather than trying to destroy mine.
It wasn’t a realisation about wearing a bikini, it was about wearing anything be it a swimsuit, bikini, polo neck, jumpsuit, mini skirt or whatever. I should wear whatever I choose to wear as long as I feel good in it and others should feel free to do the same. There is no right or wrong way to look in your body or the clothes that you choose to dress it in.
By the time I went to Lanzarote last November and Costa Rica in January, I was hooked. I placed an order online for more bikinis and low and behold, I felt fabulous in them, just like this black one from the Beach to Beach range at Simply Be.
Choosing the right swimwear is all about selecting pieces that you love the look of and love how they make you feel when you wear them. No one has the right to tell you what that should and shouldn’t be. There’s so many places to draw inspiration from and you can take that inspo and adapt it to work for you.
For me, black is a classic colour and therefore a fail safe swimwear option as it looks so stylish whether I’m tanned or pale. This particular range from Simply Be has plenty of options so you can try it whether you’re a bikini, tankini or swimsuit gal!
I’m a bikini girl now and the bottoms I’m wearing here are the Beach to Beach Bikini Short in Black. They’re comfortable, fit nicely and I can mix and match them with so many different tops. Plus the sizing is spot on which makes shopping online so much easier.
I love high waisted styles for bikini bottoms simply because I feel as though they look the best on my body and that gives me an added confidence boost. I’m really long in the body and my tummy tends to pull everything down so if I opt for more of a brief style, the chances are they’ll either sit under my tummy or roll down which tends to make me feel more self conscious so high waisted is the best way forward for me.
However it is the Beach to Beach Bikini Top that I love the most from this pairing. It is cut beautifully; I find that it enhances my chest which I love as I’m actually quite small busted for my body size, and it sits high under the arms so it keeps me in place! While I’m not adverse to showing the flabby bit underneath my arms (hey, its a part of me and I love it just as much as the rest!), if I can smooth it over then that’s my preference and this bikini does that perfectly. Its all about what makes you feel confident and beautiful on the inside and out!
Its hard to believe that in the space of a year, I went from feeling restricted in my swimwear to feeling body confident and able to wear whatever I want (and rightly so!).
I’m living proof that EVERYONE has a bikini body. I love my body in a bikini and its ok for you to love your body in yours too.
How confident do you feel in your swimwear? What do you love to wear around the pool?