Why Bikinis Are Good For Plus-Size Women

The other day, I did a shopping guide dedicated to bathing suits that come in plus-sizes. While there are quite a few great ones out there, I also had that yearly reminder of an aspect of fashion that is a bit dulled in the autumn and winter months: brands, designers, retailers and regular folks still think some sizes simply aren’t “for” plus-size women. Namely, bikinis.

Women who are over a size 4 or so are typically not shown in bathing suits in magazines, on television, or in films–although to be fair, women over a size 4 are barely shown in the media at all. Any woman who has a larger-than-C cup bust size or wide hips is supposed to be motherly, matronly or frumpy, according to the entertainment industry, rather than sexy or even just existent. It’s hot in the summer. Like, really hot. Don’t we all deserve to swim in our bathing suits and feel good about it, or at least not feel bad whatsoever?

So, to disprove the theory that bikinis are to be left out of the wardrobes of plus-size women, here are plenty of reasons why itsy bitsy two-piece swimsuits are for us above-4s, too!

Plus-size bikinis finally don’t suck!

Back in the dark days, bathing suits for plus-size women essentially looked like spandex tents (thus the name of my plus-size bathing suit shopping guide). Nowadays, there are so many designers that actually create incredible pieces for women sizes 10 and up, from Madison Plus Select who collaborated with plus-size supermodel Robyn Lawley to SwimsuitsForAll who worked with the ever-incredible Gabi Fresh. No longer do women need to settle for boring black and deep blue pieces (unless you really want to, I s’pose); instead, we can actually find bright ones, printed ones, ones that have the same weirdo tan lines as “standard size” bikinis! If you have had trouble in the past with finding a two-piece in your size, 2014 is your year: seize the day, seize the string bikini.

Tankinis are stupid.

Yes, I am writing off an entire type of bathing suit. Tankinis are almost exclusively recommended for women who aren’t “supposed” to show off their bodies, meaning “anyone who isn’t athletic with a BMI of under 20,” according to most fashion magazines. Many of the supposed to alter how you actually look by “concealing tummies,” which is stupid because that implies your body isn’t good enough the way it is and primarily reminds me that the term “tummies” is inappropriate when applied to anyone over the age of two.

If you are going to wear a two-piece, go for it. If you are going to wear a one-piece, also go for it. But for goodness’ sake, can we please erase tankinis off the face of the Earth now?

The fit is easier to find.

A one-piece has to fit you in the shoulders, breasts, waist and hips–that’s a lot to have perfect it one single article of clothing. When you go for a two-piece, you can choose something that is a size 12 in the top and a 14 on the bottom, of a 36DD on the top and a Medium on the bottom. You don’t have to try so hard to locate a piece of fabric that will probably not fit perfectly regardless–and is typically nonreturnable.


While not all plus-size women have large cup sizes, we do tend to have more stuff we can prop up, and a bikini is the perfect way to do that. Using a halter bikini top, in particular, you can basically just push your breasts up a la Mae West and be on your merry way.

Bikinis add definition.

I’m not saying you need to run out and get a bikini because of how it will make your body look; if you want to wear a two-piece, wear a two-piece regardless! That said, if you are seeking to get that particularly defined pinup-girl style, or even simply to look a little curvier in silhouette, bikinis are probably the easiest way to get that. While one-pieces and tankinis (ugh) skim over your body, a high-waisted brief style and supportive top achieve that goal wonderfully.

The more (you buy), the merrier.

This is purely a principal thing: if we stop letting some retailers bully plus-size women into wearing bathing suits that are boring, plain, and purely made to be “flattering” by buying the sexier, more exciting bikinis, then they will make more of them! And wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Trying to disappear is silly.

One of my least favorite tropes that appears in so many fashion magazines’ summer content is the idea of styling one’s body to make it sort of disappear into itself. There are so many tricks that are meant to “disguise,” “distract” or “hide” the way your body looks, as though it is unworthy of being seen. You know what is silly about that? Everything. You’re not a magician; you do not need to confound the world with your optical trick of a bathing suit.

Sorry, illusion.

Your body is a body! It deserves to be treated like one. Sure, if you like to wear navy blue tankinis or knee-length skirted swimsuits, then by all means, do so! But if what you actually want is to don a bold floral bikini to the beach, then do that this summer. You will look wonderful, feel better, and not GAF what anybody else thinks because you’ll be too busy having a good time.

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    • Alana Vincenza

      I was already thinking that this summer is the summer I say eff it all and rock a bikini and I think this just pushed me over the edge. Thanks :)

    • Surelyone

      I like tankinis…I like the full coverage of a one-piece but do not like the inconvenience of trying to get into one or making a bathroom trip in a wet one-piece…and I don’t want to wear a bikini. So, please, keep them around!

      • Swirrlygrrl

        Yes on this front. I will never again wear a one piece, because getting topless to pee. But sometimes I want more coverage than a standard two piece.

      • http://flockeoseagulls.flavors.me/ Frances “Librle” Locke

        Tankinis are also great for people like me with weirdly long torsos, lol. I just bought an awesome barely-one-piece suit, kinda like this bad boy, but with a halter strap…


        …and while I love it, it doesn’t quite fit right in my midsection because of my Stretch Armstrong torso. I like this style because I can totally pull down the bottoms to go to the bathroom without taking the entire thing off, too. It’s a huge plus, but they never make these with long torsos in mind.

      • Samantha Escobar

        And this is why comments are great–I had no idea anybody actually liked tankinis! And I hadn’t thought about the bathroom thing. That makes a lot of sense.

    • 35tg5

      I like bikinis at the beach, ’cause you can feel the sun!

    • DeanaCal

      I also can’t deal with a tankini. I have a bulgy lower abdomen, and a tankini just frames that area, calling even more attention to it. I feel pretty good about the rest of me, but the tankini just says “hey everybody, check out this pooch!”

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      I do like tankinis, but I actually like high-waisted bikinis better. I basically want mid-range coverage with the convenience of a two-piece.

    • Juliana

      Reading this made me finally buy my first bikini, at the age of 22. I got a retro-styled one. I think it was featured in one of the other articles (it’s from Torrid). I’m really excited to wear it and hope that it looks the way I think it will.

      Also, I agree with some of the other posters: One-pieces never fit my darn torso right! They are always too short!


      I like to wear a swimsuit to the beach to play, but I have a bulgy lower abdomen,so I have to wear bathing suits to recover,I find it hard to