***** THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED! Click here to see the new version, updated for summer 2019. *****
While it’s officially been summer for a few weeks now, next week marks the opening of splash pads, outdoor pools, and beaches (at least here in the midwest). That means it’s officially swimsuit season!
If those words fill you with a sense of dread and self-loathing, you’re not alone.
>>>Keep reading for my experience and advice, or skip straight to my recommendations on bikinis for fat femmes with big boobs!
The Myth of the Bikini Body
We’ve been taught to believe that we have to meet certain criteria to wear a swimsuit in public. Every year, with spring comes the increasingly stale insistence that your body has to change in some fundamental way in order to be “bikini ready”, or “beach ready”. It doesn’t even matter what your body looks like at the moment – it almost certainly needs to change if you’re going to strip down for the summer.
The not-so-subtle message there, is that we shouldn’t be able to enjoy summer and it’s many outdoor activities unless we have first beaten our bodies into submission.
>>>See Also: Why You Should Get Rid of Your Skinny Jeans
An extra note for those with chronic illness…
I think this reminder is even more important for parents living with chronic illness. There are so many other things that keep us from enjoying time with our kids. Things that we have absolutely no control over, and it becomes a matter of self care to take time away from the kids.
On top of that, summer is morbidly uncomfortable for many people with chronic illness. The heat and humidity can cause flares in pain, brain fog, lethargy, and more. So being able to strip down and enjoy some pool time can be an important part of our summer self care. Plus, swimming in and of itself is therapeutic for so many chronic conditions, including my spondyloarthritis.
You have just as much right to show your body (if you want to) as anyone else! Please don’t let society shame you into dressing uncomfortably, or wasting one more moment with your kids. Do what’s best for you and your body!
How to Get a Bikini Body While Fat
Finding a swimsuit is always a struggle. I’m pretty sure most womxn would agree with this statement, regardless of their body shape or size. But please believe me when I say that for some of us finding a swimsuit is brutal.
On top of anti-fat messages being crammed into our brains on a daily basis, swimsuit selections for fats have been painfully limited. This reinforces the message that we shouldn’t be seen wearing a swimsuit in public. And, just like with other clothing, plus size swimwear often isn’t carried in stores, sending the message that we also shouldn’t be seen shopping in public. (Are you starting to see the pattern here?!)
Thankfully, with more people speaking up and questioning these societal assumptions, bathing suit options have gotten SO much better for the fat femmes among us. Compared to the tent-like swim dresses and boring one-piece suits available even ten years ago, retailers are starting to catch on to the fact that fat womxn want cute bathing suits. What’s more, they want bikinis.
Wait, why do fat womxn want bikinis?
Wouldn’t the better question be why not?! But in case that’s not convincing enough, here are three more reasons:
Bikinis Fit Better
First of all, when you have big boobs it’s hard to find ANY swimsuit that fits well. Most swimsuits are designed for a body with no more than a C/D cup size. On my body, this usually results in one-pieces that tug at my crotch because all the extra fabric is eaten up by my ravenous boobs. A fix for this might be to buy a long torso suit, but those are in pretty limited demand, too. And what about my fat sisters with big boobs AND a long torso?!
Tankinis, on the other hand, tend to have a built-in boob shelf, if they don’t have a full built-in bra. With those suits I have the choice of looking like I’m about to fall out all over the place, or having that weird boob shelf line right through the middle of my tatas. Neither is an okay option for me.
But bikinis are way more likely to be built like a bra (support!), and you don’t have to worry about crotch pull! So, at least for me, bikinis tend to fit my body best.
Bikinis Are More Convenient
You can pee without having to strip down completely naked in the creepy beach bathroom stall. ‘Nuf said.
Because Seriously, Why Not?!
And finally, fat women have just as much of a right as skinny women to wear whatever makes them comfortable. Notice I said what makes THEM comfortable. Not what makes OTHER people comfortable. It is not your job to keep others from being offended by the sight of your body. It’s just not.
Bikini Shopping While Fat With Big Boobs is Still Like Searching for Bigfoot
While bathing suit choices for the plus-sized crowd have gotten better, there are still some pretty big glaring problems. Plus size bathing suits are often only carried online, which adds the dreaded fat tax to our shopping. And clothing manufacturers STILL haven’t figured out that some fat womxn have big boobs.
Not even my all-time favorite clothing store, Torrid, who sells adorable plus-size swimwear, has EVEN ONE suit designed for boobs bigger than a US DD-cup. WHAT THE HELL, TORRID.
Deep breath, Aby. Deeeeeeep breath.
And they’re not the only ones. It turns out that it’s super freaking hard to find swimwear that’s both plus sized AND made to hold gigantic knockers. And oh, did I Google.
I Found Three Options
I finally came up with THREE viable options that met at least most of my requirements:
- Fits a size 22 person with 42H boobs.
- Cup-sized top, for lots of support.
- Bikini style.
- Prefer ability to cross straps in back.
- Didn’t really want just black.
- Suited my taste and style.
And because I love you people, I took photos of myself in all three of them, while my creepy next-door neighbor stared at me the whole time. I’m not sure if he was staring because there was a fat woman taking pictures of herself in bikinis, or because there was a fat woman taking pictures of herself in bikinis in 60-degree Michigan weather.
Plus Size Bikini #1: Gabifresh x Swimsuits For All
Gabifresh x Swimsuits For All Roller Coaster Orange Underwire Bikini
When I learned that Gabi Douglas’s line now comes in a G/H cup size option, I was ecstatic. Several years ago I purchased one of her bikinis (exactly like this one, but in black), but had to buy the top 4-5 sizes too big and have the band altered down to fit me. And the cups still didn’t really fit. I eventually ended up giving it away. So I was beyond stoked to try her line again, without the hassle and added expense of alterations.
Unfortunately, it still didn’t work out. I’m at the very top of the size range these suits come in, so the G/H cup size just didn’t give me enough support. I know the suit looks awesome in the photos. But the underwire didn’t rest against my breastbone like it should, and that was going to bother me. So back it went.
- High quality fabric and construction.
- Fun criss-cross design.
- Bright popping color!
- Straps are convertible, so they can be crossed in the back for more support (or removed completely).
- While you have to order both top and bottom together, you get to choose individual sizes.
- Swimsuits For All is always having some sort of sale.
- The largest top size you can get is a 42 G/H. This was too small for my 42H boobs, but would probably work for you if you’re smaller in cup and/or band size.
- Gabifresh suits sometimes sell out FAST.
Plus Size Bikini #2: Lane Bryant
Lane Bryant Smocked Swim Longline Bikini Top with High Waisted Drawstring Swim Brief
- High quality fabric and construction.
- Colorful trim.
- Adjustable sides on the swim brief, so you can make the leg opening higher or lower on your leg.
- Purchase top and bottom separately.
- Top is sized exactly like the Cacique balconette bra (only a pro if you like how those bras fit!).
- Straps are NOT convertible.
- Top is sized exactly like the Cacique balconette bra. This is a complaint I have with most of the Cacique bras. The cups tend to be really wide-set on me, and this results in the straps always feeling like they’re going to fall off. And since the straps weren’t convertible, I couldn’t secure them better. If the straps had been convertible, I may have kept this one.
- It was complicated to get in and out of. There’s a hidden bra band that I managed to get all tangled up, and it was hard for me to fasten.
Plus Size Bikini #3: Curvy Kate + Torrid (For the Win!)
Top: Curvy Kate Maya Red Print Balcony Bikini
Bottom: Torrid Skater Swim Skirt in Black
- High quality fabric and construction.
- Pretty details on the bikini top.
- I feel super cute in a skater skirt! And Torrid’s bottoms come in up to a US size 30.
- Top is sized exactly like Curvy Kate bras, and comes in up to a UK size 44G (US 44I). It fits me perfectly, and feels supportive. Yay!
- I ended up purchasing the top and bottom from different places, because I didn’t like either of the Curvy Kate bottom options (high waisted or fold-over brief). Plus, their bottoms only come in up to a UK size 20 (US size 16), so they wouldn’t have fit me anyway!
- Although the straps stay in place well, they’re not convertible and I really like being able to cross the straps on my top.
- I’d also like a wider back band, but I don’t really have a whole lot of choice, do I?
2017 Honorable Mention: Elomi
Elomi Wild Thing Gathered Tankini (no longer available – similar)
Elomi Essentials Underwire Bikini Top (no longer available – similar)
Mycoco Long Bike Swim Shorts
This is the suit that I purchased last year, when I was doing physical therapy for my hip. I wanted the extra coverage for the therapy exercises, so I went with the long bike swim shorts (which actually came all the way down to my knees, but I had them shortened to my liking). These shorts would also be nice if you’re spending a day playing at the beach and don’t want to have to worry about chub rub AT ALL. They’re available in sizes 8-26.
Elomi’s suits are designed so that you can wear the bikini top on its own, or you can wear it as a swim bra under an unstructured tankini top. I loved this idea, because I could get the support I wanted without it having to be built into the tankini.
The bikini top I chose is from their Essentials line, and comes in up to a UK size 46GG (US 46J)! They also have a range of swim bottoms, with sizes up to a UK 26 (US 22).
So shopping for a bikini while fat with big boobs… kind of sucks.
There definitely aren’t enough options out there yet. By the time I had scrounged up even three possibilities that I actually liked, I felt defeated.
Did I find a suit that I liked? Yeah, sure. But it’s not perfect. It was just the one that fit me best out of three. I can only imagine what my size 30+ sisters are going through, when their options are even more limited.
So please, PLEASE, clothing manufacturers… make swimwear for bigger cup sizes! We have money we want to give you, and all we want is good quality supportive swimwear! Is that really too much to ask?!