Boobs and Bathing Suit Shopping: My Response to the Whole “Bikini Body” Thing

This post isn’t exactly about fitness but with summer around the corner, I find myself thinking about the tired “bikini body” tropes. You know, how we all have to get our bodies “ready” to be seen by other people in public…

Well, this week my partner and I are headed to his hometown of Rockaway Park in Queens, NY. It’s an amazing beach community on the southern peninsula of Queens.

Rockaway_Beach_Queens

Image Description: A photograph of the beach around sunset with apartments visible in the background. Rockaway Beach is an amazing beach community south of Brooklyn on the southern peninsula of Queens.

 

In anticipation of the trip, I decided to give the whole two-piece bathing suit another try.

I finally figured out: Hey! I feel good about my body in my underwear—I think I look pretty damn good, even. So why do I feel so uncomfortable in a two-piece? Oh, I see… Other people.

Well, fear of what other people think be damned! The older I get, the more I realize (not only does it not really matter), but no one’s even looking at me anyway.

So off I went to in search of a proper two piece.

The main problem, however, was my boobs. Or rather, the lack of selection for those with a “D-cup-and-up.”

I started by doing some preliminary searching online… “Bikini tops for larger busts” yielded some results, but what I found was a lot of tops that tried to hide or diminish parts of the body.

What makes you think that just because I have a larger bust, that I also want to hide it? Or hide my stomach? Do larger busts and larger stomachs automatically go together?

large bust bikini.jpg

Image Description: A woman wearing a black bikini intended for larger busts, but also has a lot of fringe to cover her breasts and stomach. While I actually don’t think this is a bad option in terms of style, it seems ridiculous that so many options that are available for larger busts are also ones that hide and diminish the visibility of breasts and stomachs. This is just one example of the types of bathing suits available for larger breasted women: lots of fringe to hide behind! 

I continued my search at the Eaton Centre… I found that most companies offered larger sizes of bikini tops, but these are just simply larger versions of their cute flouncy tops that are meant for smaller busts. For those of you out there who share my struggle, you know this doesn’t quite work. Simply making a bikini top larger doesn’t always take into other concerns like support, side-boob coverage, the feeling of security that I won’t accidentally flash half the beach while coming out of the water. (#bigboobproblems)

The worst part of it was just how many useless tops there were out there. Certainly, I can’t be the only person with larger breasts who also wants to wear a two piece (AND move around with said two piece on her body without the fear of it falling off).

swim tops.jpg

Image Description: Some beach-ready items like sunglasses, camera, and bathing suit. This type of bathing suit top in particular was the predominant style when I went looking for a top. I’m sorry, but no matter how big you make this top, it still won’t work for a larger bust in terms of support, coverage, comfort, and general staying-up-ness. 

Lately I’ve become less and less impressed by what stores have to offer. I don’t consider myself to have an especially rare body type, but even if I did, what would I do then?? I’m annoyed (at best) and totally pissed off (at worst) when I’m made to feel like something is wrong with me because things in stores don’t fit me properly. (Not to mention other issues like high prices for low quality, the use of sweatshop labour to produce high volumes of clothes out there these days…)

So now what? I don’t have a particularly satisfying way to wrap up this post. I guess my frustration around consumerism, patriarchy, and other bullsh*t are just a bit higher than usual these days, and the bathing suit shopping incident was that thing that pushed me over the edge.

I have this note to myself written above my desk in my office that says, “Create before you consume” and this idea can act as the antidote I sometimes need against the bombardment of body and beauty standards out there in stores and malls. If anything, it’s a reminder…just because I live in a consumer culture, doesn’t mean I have to be a mindless consumer. I, too, am someone who is capable of creating things. And that, for me, has always been empowering.

I recently took up knitting and sewing as a way to make my own clothing. There are even classes in Toronto on how to make your own bras and bathing suits. While I realize this isn’t for everyone, I find something deliciously rebellious about not needing to buy stuff when you can make it yourself.

But this can mean lots of things for lots of people: Create a positive self-image before you consume… Create time for yourself before you consume… Create your own version of something before you consume… Whatever this means to you!

Anyway, I’ll be happily lounging on the beach this week in my bikini body; by which I mean, there will be a bikini on my body.

bikini body.jpg

Image Description: A drawing of a bikini with the words, “How to get a bikini body… put a bikini on a body.” This and similar memes are a response to the “Get Bikini Body Ready” rhetoric out there about dieting and exercising prior to putting a bathing suit on in the summertime.

About tracyrwdeboer

Tracy is a freelance writer currently living in Toronto and completing her PhD in political philosophy. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @tracyrwdeboer.

8 thoughts on “Boobs and Bathing Suit Shopping: My Response to the Whole “Bikini Body” Thing

  1. cdaigle says:

    Great post Tracy. I too share your frustration with the offerings in regular stores. There is no way I can fit my 36F in what they sell. This means I have to buy both bras and bathing suits in lingerie stores. They fit fantastic but they break the bank. Now, of course, one has to wonder why it is any more expensive to buy a 36F than a 36C. I mean, it is not that much more material. But companies exploit that one does not fit the “normal” charts. The red number featured in my post “Free the bellies” cost me $180!! It is way too expensive but it fit great, gave me perfect support, and I could swim with it and it did not move.
    The problem of big boobs and clothing is not limited to bras and bathing suits, as you mention. Dresses are rarely cut for me, let alone blouses and jackets. I wish I had time to go back to sewing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. catherine w says:

    I totally agree with you and Christine on this. There are so many things wrong with the clothing industry that we just don’t have enough time to write it all. I’m large busted and absolutely refuse to believe that it is too hard to design, engineer and manufacture bikini tops and two-piece bathing suits for us. I love the feeling of body-hugging clothing– yoga tops and bottoms and cycling kit make me feel strong and good. Wouldn’t it be something to have access to some of those good feelings on the beach and at the lake, pool, etc. too? Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Jennifer says:

    Check out Athleta.com. They have bra-sizing on their tops. I am a 32 F and have always had great luck there!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not a huge selection, but some reliable options at titlenine.com and chosen by women

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Angi says:

    Check in with Sexy Plus Clothing and/or Karen at Your Big Sisters Closet. Both will have bikini tops designed with the boob blessed in mind. I’m a D cup wearer as well and finding bathing suit tops or one pieces that hold them in place is a pain. There is also one cute and supportive top in the Penningtons selections this season, which would go with a black straight sized bottom if you don’t require a plus bottom.

    Like

  6. Amber Fryshler says:

    Tearing my hair out for the same reason. I don’t have a large budget and gave up on finding a suit that will hold my 36 Fs. It also seems like most of the suits tie around the neck and holding my boobs up with a string tied around my neck is a recipe for a major headache. Guess I’ll be swimming in shorts and a tank top again this year. Which means I won’t be swimming much.

    Like

  7. Sarah says:

    *scurries off to make a “Create before you consume” note for her own desk*

    Like

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