The Trend of the Bikini Body and Surveillance of Women’s Bodies

When you type the phrase, “bikini body,” into google, the first three results are, “bikini body workout plan at home,” “bikini body 4-week diet,” and, “how to get a bikini body.” Every single year the dangerous trend carries on, including over-exercising, and diets that are likely to consist of hard boiled eggs and grapefruit. This form of media perpetuates an idea that only women of certain slim body types should be allowed to wear a bikini, and similarly other forms of summer clothing. It is an extremely loaded phrase that often contributes to body shaming and self-surveillance. Despite this long standing tedious trend still persisting in society, the phrase “bikini body,” is also one that is beginning to be reclaimed, not only by members of the general public but also by body positive activists and through plus-size swimwear campaigns. Being bikini body ready is simply putting a bikini on your body and then going out to enjoy the sun. Although this is easier said than done, we are now seeing these commonly advertised diet and exercise plans as unnecessary and redundant. This begins to create an alternative narrative which is against policing women’s bodies and allows us to wear whatever we want, no matter what our bodies look like.

Attempting to debunk the prescriptive bikini body trend is ultimately putting a middle finger up to dieting and fitness industries. This is a time where they’re expecting to reap their biggest profits outside of the post-Christmas period. The people behind these dieting and exercise plans are literally profiting off making women feel as if they’re not good enough to be carefree and enjoy their holidays. Whilst some attempts at debunking this myth call for embracing imperfection, it’s important to know that these things which are commonly pointed out aren’t “imperfections” per se. But a call to recognise that not many people fit inside a rigid set of body standards. So many of us have stretch marks, birthmarks, and lovely, soft jiggly bits, and this is all part of who we are. That bit of body fat that sits around the lower stomach that so many people are frantically googling how to get rid of? That’s meant to be there to protect your organs. Few of us look as if we’ve walked straight out of a Sports Illustrated issue but it shouldn’t prohibit anyone from carefree fun on a warm day.

Embracing a more inclusive concept of bikini body should ultimately reflect allowing women to be present during holiday time, rather than a period of preparation which probably doesn’t make anyone happy. It’s spending a long day on the beach, and sand lingering in the car and your shoes for days later. It’s salt water and chlorine drying out your hair for several days. It’s cocktails and ice creams beside a swimming pool. It’s giving yourself permission to let go of shame of your body and who you are.

[Amy Irvine – @atnerls]

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