When you think bikini model, what kinds of images typically come to mind? Tall, rail-thin, leggy females wearing barely-there suits without a flaw in sight? Well that may be the case, perhaps it’s because those are the the only images the fashion and beauty industries put in front of our culture’s eye. And as a result, it’s what we’ve come to accept.
But 25-year-old Gabi Gregg, a plus-size fashion blogger living in New York, is hoping to break that stereotype. She’s promoting a message of self love, and believes that being happy with your body shouldn’t depend on what shape or size you are.
And in a whirlwind of support, people are getting behind this message with more enthusiasm than Gregg ever expected.
The controversy started when the fashion blogger posted a photo of herself on her blog GabiFresh, looking curvy and feminine in a high-waisted, two-piece bikini. In addition to posting her own photo, Gregg also encouraged other plus-sized girls to send in photos of themselves in bikinis to prove that beauty doesn’t come in just one size.
She called the project “Fatkini: 31 Hot, Sexy, Fat Girls in Skimpy Swimwear,” and it was put on display for all to see on the fashion site, xojane.com.
In a recent interview on The Today Show, Gregg said what she was hoping to accomplish with the project was to show women that they shouldn’t feel constrained by fashion rules just because they aren’t the size of a fashion model. “I think we should reject these fashion rules about what we are and what we are not allowed to wear,” she said.
The blogger explained that all we see are thin women in swimwear. And while she thinks thin women are beautiful too, she also believes our culture should be exposed to all types of women in swimwear because it’s more healthy and true to life.
If you’re wondering where Gregg gained her confidence from, the blogger admitted that she was lucky enough to have supportive family and friends. And that while she was self conscious in high school, she came into her own in college and grew to love her body.
As expected, while there has been a wave of support surrounding the ‘fatkini’ movement, there has been some backlash and criticism as well. Some people perceive that Gregg is promoting obesity. But the fashion blogger insists that’s not what she’s doing at all, and fully believes in the importance of being healthy.
“I’m not promoting obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle. I’m all for health,” she said. “I think people should be aware what they’re putting in their bodies and try to get more active. But the truth is, we have to live in and be happy with the bodies we have right now no matter where we’re at on our journey to health. And I don’t think your health should determine whether or not you’re allowed to wear certain types of clothing.”
As for Gregg’s personal health, she’s happy with where she’s at and isn’t trying to lose any weight. “My health is not determined by my size. I believe personally that my measure for health is how good I feel, and I’m really trying for myself. I feel like I’m healthy,” she said. “The main thing is to judge how you feel, how active you are, and the things you’re putting in your body.”
While Gregg points out that she’s wearing a high-waisted swimsuit in the picture that happens to flatter her figure, that’s not what it’s ultimately about.
“What I wanted to accomplish with the gallery is that it’s not just me. For a lot of these women you could visibly see their flaws. It’s not just me wearing a bikini. You can be any size and be happy where you are. And that doesn’t mean you’re not practicing healthy habits.”
We find Gregg’s message of health and self love where you are inspiring, and agree that while health is important, it’s equally important to love your body no matter what shape or size it may me. Our society needs more voices like Gregg’s, especially since despite moments of triumph – such as Vogue banning too-thin models – there still seems to be an overpowering message that only thin is beautiful.
photos from GabiFresh