Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Size Is Just a Number (Swimsuit Edition)

My name is Trystan, I'm 42 years old, I'm 5' 2" tall, & I currently weigh about 180 pounds. By some (rather questionably scientifically sound) measures, that means I'm obese. But by other measures, I'm pretty darn average. Yet you wouldn't know it if you looked in American mass media.

So I'm posting these swimsuit photos from my recent Kauai trip to show what a curvy -- perhaps even fat! -- woman like me really looks like (maybe I should submit one of these to the BMI Project on Flickr, which is a lovely dose of reality).

An L.A. Times article from 2009 claims that an average American woman is "162.9 pounds and wears a size 14." This seems to be a riff on the U.S. Center for Disease Control stats that states the average American woman's weight is 164.7 pounds and waist measurement is 37". At an average height of 63.8", this U.S. lady is firmly in the "overweight" category on the BMI scale (of course, that measurement is highly suspect).

My point being, I'm about 20 pounds over average & an inch short, but I typically wear that standard size 14 (and 12s and 16s, along with "mediums" & "larges" as long as they aren't in the juniors section).

And I don't care about any of these numbers, & neither should you.

Really, size is just a number, a totally arbitrary number. The numbers on the scale are just numbers, & the BMI is just a number dreamed up by a Belgian insurance adjuster 200 years ago.  Clothing sizes are rather arbitrary & vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Each designer has their own "fit model" with different physical proportions that are based in some fantasy land of who that designer wishes would buy their products. None of these (or other) numbers should not dictate how you feel about yourself.

I can enjoy the beach & the sun (hush, goths are allowed to enjoy the sun -- that's what 100+ sunblock is for!), regardless of my size. The sand feels just as ticklish beneath my feet, the waves are as delicious against my skin, the sea breezes are as delightful on my face & hair.

Women shouldn't shun swimsuits if they don't look like fashion models or celebrities. There's a whole industry designed to make women freak out about "swimsuit season" & force us to go on crazy "bikini body" diets to lose some unrealistic number of pounds in an equally unrealistic number of days before hitting the beach. Fie on that nonsense, I say, fie!

I've been to beaches in Florida (where I was born), two Hawaiian islands, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Rio de Janeiro, & random parts of the U.S. that I can't exactly remember right now. None of these beaches had posted size limits or signs saying "you must be this thin to show your body here."

In fact, when I went to Rio, I was amazed & felt liberated to see large, voluptuous women, easily twice my size wearing thong bikinis & high heels, strutting down the Copacabana. These sassy women of substance had, I kid you not, scads of young, bronzed men following them like puppy dogs.

It's all about attitude, ladies. If you feel comfortable in your own body, you will exude confidence & sex appeal, & everyone else will feel it too.

Swimsuits will be hitting the stores any minute now in the U.S. (even if temperatures are too chilly to contemplate swimming -- but that's how retail works ;-). You'll have the best selection of styles & sizes between now & Memorial Day. So get out there & try some on. Don't let the fashion magazines scare you into thinking you have to wait until you lose X number of pounds or some other BS.

Live life in the now, love the body you have, enjoy the sun & soak up a little healthy vitamin D this year.

Check out these awesome swimsuits online:
Pinupgirl Clothing swimsuits (where mine is from!)
RetroDress Esther Williams swimsuits
Shabby Apple retro-styled suits & tankinis
Spiegel swimwear, many styles
Newport News swim shop (great for mix & match two-pieces)


  1. Confidence and self-love are the most attractive qualities girl can have. You look fabulous!
    I have that same bathing suit but in black! The pink looks hot though--maybe better than black for gothic pale skin!!

  2. You look gorgeous! I love that retro swim suit style! And thanks for listing that link to the BMI Project. It's nice to know that there are people who love themselves (and others!) exactly as they are. This rocks!

  3. I totally agree with what you say, Trystan! I love that you don't care about the BMI or anything like that and you accept yourself no matter what. You look stunning and a normal, healthy size to me! It's so important to love yourself and accept the skin you're in. If we are constantly dieting and trying to achieve a certain BMI, there is no chance to love ourselves because we are always looking at our flaws and the scales. Glad you are enjoying the sun too (and wearing your big black sun hat, of course). Do you use parasols too?

  4. You rock! Love the bathing suit.

  5. Great bathing suit! I want one like that! :)
    Thanks for the link to the BMI Project.


  6. I love that bathing suit! You're right, the BMI scales are off - they were originally developed to figure out which children weren't getting enough food and needed help. Somehow it got turned into a set of numbers everyone had to hew to. Ridiculous.

  7. Thanks all for the kind words!!!

    Hexotica - I totally debated pink or black for this suit, wish I could have gotten both ;-)

    Amber Dawn - The BMI Project is such a great thing.

    jewitchy - I tend to use parasols walking around town, but not in Hawaii. Esp. since it rains off & on (regular umbrella tho!).

    LovleAnjel - Yeah, it's nutty how everyone, even doctors & govts., speak the BMI as gospel.

  8. You look fantastic! You have also sold me on getting a suit from Esther Williams because that is an amazing look. I've been thinking about it for a while, and darned if you didn't tip the scales with a vengeance.

  9. Love that suit and you are fabulous! I'm adding you to my reader. No, I don't do Goth, but I'm 5'3" and really getting analysis paralysis as I try to settle on what "there" looks like now that I've lost 20++ lbs. I've been a too thin runner, on up to ... well, never mind. The point is, I'm going to quit dodging swimsuits and skorts until I'm some mythical size.

  10. You look so fabulous in that pink suit and your hat! I'm not shopping for new attire this year, so I guess I'll just have to keep confidently wearing my bikini and old black suit if I go to any beaches or pools this summer.

  11. You look gorgeous! That pink suit was made for you!

  12. ycleped - Thanks. That Esther Williams suit is so awesome too.

    Channon - That's right, ya just gotta go for it ;-)

    La Historiadora de Moda - Keep on with your confident self too!

    Stella - Thanks.

  13. You look beautiful! I loved this post!

  14. An excellent post. People throw the BMI around to sell a lot of things, and I appreciated you providing links that show how BMI is not an accurate measure. I think what matters is a person's health and the BMI does not measure that. I've recently become concerned about medical tourism businesses here in Canada that are using the BMI to qualify people for weight loss surgery in Mexican facilities. people who are perfectly healthy but whose BMI may show they are obese are getting surgery like the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, which removes 80% of their stomach, in order to lose weight. I personally know 4 people who have had the surgery in the last year. sure they have a right to do whatever they want with their bodies, but I take exception to the marketing campaigns, with size 6 models in bikinis, that make people feel bad about themselves, in order to sell the surgery. anyway, great post - I feel we think alike on a lot of stuff here.

  15. Hi! I just happened across this blog and this post by accident, but I wanted to take a moment to tell you (from one curvy girl to another) that you are awesome! Thank you for being unafraid to be yourself and setting such a fine example for others. --AnneK