Chris in Buzios
Memorial Day marks the official opening of swimming pool season around these parts (though sadly for me but smartly for local families, the Pittsburgh city pools wait until the end of the public school year to open). Although I bought a bathing suit before my December trip to Brazil, I am always on the look out for swimwear that can support a bustier bosom. I've come to adore the Triumph For Your Curves brand (even if the name is silly) for their fun prints and wide range of bikini tops with underwire (sized like bras in a wide range of cup sizes, and everything!). I've also heard great things about the Figleaves in-house brands (Midnight Grace, etc.) and Freya, though I cannot speak to their longevity or support from personal experience.
Although I have far from what most would consider a bikini body, I started wearing one within the last year or so. I decided that I was sick of tankinis (since I always pulled up the tank part of the top to sun worship) and one pieces (which made going to the bathroom a pain in the butt). I am no stranger to those body image issues that effect most of us. But I have come to feel relatively bold when it comes to swimwear, especially during out of town travel. It already helps when you are in a place where no one knows you except for your travel partner(s). But when you couple it with the relatively exposed swimwear culture of Brazil, I was even more confident running around, flabby body and all.
As examined in this entry from feminist fashion blogger Millie of Interrobangs Anonymous and posted on the website of MrsBossaDoesTheDo, vacations carry liberatory and experimental potential. An otherwise safe, static style identity can try new things without the watchfuls eyes of preconceived expectations. I wrote in the comments section:
There is something really liberating about being in a place where no one knows me (except the person with who I am traveling). Fewer expectations and fewer closet options mean that I am simultaneously less and more confined, if that makes sense. I don’t have to feel like I am dressing my usual “part” because I won’t see anyone who usually sees me but I have such a smaller range of options because I tend to try to pack lightly.
One of my favorite things about traveling to Brazil last December was how completely body unconscious people were on the beaches. Granted, my boyshort bottoms had more coverage than most of the men’s trunks, but I found it really refreshing to see women of all ages and shapes and sizes wearing the tiniest of bikini styles without reservation. I wonder on some level if this is merely a product of availability? If swimsuit retailers there only sell tiny suits, then everyone has to wear them by default. But those typical anxieties about how my body looked on the beach (the feelings that I try to fight because they run so contrary to my feminist beliefs) were a little less intense as a result. I felt comfortable because 1. no one knew me and 2. everyone there wore tiny bikinis, making my less-tiny-but-still-bikini style seem modest.
I obviously cannot speak for the women who live in Brazil (a culture where I have read that plastic surgery and plastic surgery tourism are more common and less costly than in the US, and gender roles/expectations for conventional femininity remain relatively rigid in part because of ongoing influences of the Catholic faith and the prevailing traditional standards of beauty). But for me it felt really powerful to walk around the beach without a coverup and without the same anxieties about body judgments.
Are you ready (I mean emotionally, not physically) for bathing suit season? I'm trying to get back to how I felt in December, regardless of the location of the pool or beach... But I've got a ways to go.
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