Last summer, news spread of a new fat epidemic: GabiFresh’s introduction of the”fatkini,” a bikini adorned by a voluptuous, fat body. Fat princesses went wild, trying to get their hands on a fitting two piece that shows a little belly skin. Contrary to popular belief, not all fat bodies are ashamed and some tummies want to soak up some sun! Pictures of round stomachs flooded the internet, inspiring an XOJane compliation of sexy fat ladies in fatkinis. For what seems like the first time, there was body positive attention being aimed at fat bodies, and we ate that shit up like birthday cake.
When GabiFresh announced that, summer of 2013, she was launching a swimsuit collection for Swim Suits For All, I’m pretty positive the internet’s heart skipped a beat. Fat girls everywhere set their alarm clocks to the wee hours of the morning when the collection would launch. The gorgeous galaxy print fatkini sold out in hours, leaving many fat bodies without a trendy two piece to dive into oceans or in which to tan in their front yard. GabiFresh received some heat about Swim Suits for All’s descriptions for the bathing suits. They were your run of the mill, fat shaming, descriptions like “Empire waist visually minimizes tummy and hides hips” and “Print breaks up torso and visually slims waist.” Gabi’s fans were surprised that she could “allow” these words to be attached to her body positive bikinis. A quick tweet to Gabi’s twitter account (@gabifresh) granted us the response we wanted to here: “not a fan! didn’t have any input on those.” All was right in the world.
Last week, every fat blogger wrote about the low stock in Swim Suits For All. This week, all the women lucky enough to snag a ‘kini are granted bragging rights, and taking full advantage.
The trend of photos posting to the #fatkini feed on Tumblr seem to be pictures of awesome looking fatkini babes talking about how they’re “never going to take off my new galaxy fatkini!”, attached to a review that reads “it’s got a really thin strap across the back that gets lost in my back fat” or “the bottoms fit in an awkward place on my hips”. Most frustration stems from the same place: finding a bathing suit in a size 12+ that’s trendy or fashion forward that doesn’t cover your entire body is HARD. Even more so, finding one that’s under $100 seems impossible. Fat girls across the globe were so ecstatic to find something cute, original, somewhat affordable and most importantly, in their size, that worrying about HOW it fit slipped their minds. Like the girl shown above, NatalieMeansNice, shared with her bloggers, she just hoped for the best and ended up slightly disappointed but still in love with the piece. She addressed her disappointment by explaining, “It’s incredible how quick fat people are to jump at anything that MIGHT work because we aren’t used to having options. – says a lot about fat as a visibility issue in the fashion world, especially.”
Every buyer seems to be with the idea of how cute the fatkini is and could be on them, instead of loving how their bodies felt in it. I blame this on a lack of options. It’s becoming more obvious by the hour that fat bodies need more clothing options and bathing suits should not be left out of that. If there were more options for adorable fatkinis, there would be more happy fat girls lounging on the sand with smiles on their faces, feeling confident enough to rule the world. It would also mean that we’d see more than Gabi’s galaxy print bikini or Forever 21’s leopard print one being bought and fat girls can feel more like individuals expressing their style, instead of just another girl posting a #fatkini picture on instagram.
Gabi, you’re off the hook for anything negative we have to say about your line, because we know what you stand for and how absolutely talented and fabulous you have been. Gabi has opened up an important discussion about body acceptance and became a troubadour for ending fat shaming, but there are still many battles yet to come. I really hope that before Summer 2014, other retailers start selling affordable two piece bathing suits, in sizes 12-32+, in a wider array of styles that better complement the curves of a beautimous lady.