A British blogger took to Instagram to share a dressing room picture that was refreshingly honest about what the swimsuit shopping process is like when you have curves — and her message is resonating with many around the world.
YouTuber Aliss Bonython posted a series mirror portraits of herself wearing an ill-fitting triangle bikini top (accompanied by a skeptical expression on her face) on Tuesday, Allure reported. "THE REALITY OF BIKINI SHOPPING AS A PLUS SIZE WOMAN," she titled it, before laying out a scenario that's probably familiar to many shoppers that don't fit into a narrow sizing chart.
"I was really inspired when I saw a YouTube video of @dj4jay speaking on his experience helping a plus size [girlfriend] look for a bikini, and this is the reality of it," she wrote in the caption. "I used to get so disheartened when I would go shopping for swimwear with my friends who had no issue finding them." Bonython explained that she always had too much of something — be it boobs or hips — to shop the straight-sized swimsuits on the racks at your local brick-and-mortar store. Eventually, she made the decision to not punish herself and her body for not fitting "into this narrow ideal of sexy," she admitted. "I just look elsewhere."
Bonython noted in the comments that she couldn't remember the last time she bought a bikini in a store. Instead, she's turned to retailers like Swimsuitsforall, which serve customers beyond the limited extra-small-to-extra-large range and design with different fits and body types in mind. "I remember getting a bikini from [Gabi Gregg's collaboration with Swimsuitsforall] and not feeling like I had to change myself to look [okay] because it came fitting every curve on my body," Bonython wrote. "Massive thank you to all the brands who don't forget about us curvy girls." Many took to the comments to affirm Bonython and impart their own frustrations with the annual preparations for "swimsuit season."
This particularly category of retail is tricky, because even though the support needs of swimwear are much closer to those of lingerie (in terms of cup and underwire, back support, and coverage), many brands and retailers only offer bikinis and one-pieces in S/M/L — and sometimes, shoppers aren't able to mix and match bottoms. "A lot of companies, they just scale accordingly," Sara Mitzner, fit expert at swimsuitsforall, once told Refinery29 about swimwear sizing. "They’ll scale a size 8 with what they think is the average size 8 bust. The same for 10 — everything just gets bigger incrementally. And, that’s not necessarily how women’s bodies are shaped."
If the overwhelming response to Bonython's image signals anything to brands, it's that it's (about) time to reassess how swimwear is sized and marketed — because shoppers aren't staying quiet anymore.