There are no photos of me from ages eight to 16 in which I am wearing a two-piece bathing suit. Eight years of my entire life, lacking sun on my stomach and lower back. I don’t know what made me wear one pieces for so long, and looking back there are tons of factors that would be so difficult to pin down. Was it that I was becoming more aware of what I looked like? Was it that, as someone who is utterly feral at the beach, I needed something that stayed still more impressively than a two piece? Regardless, due to that long period, my stomach during the summer only becomes a few shades tanner, from a ghostly white to more of a caramel latte with far too much milk.
The end of my sophomore year of high school was when I was confronted with this truth. I was at an end-of-the year party and I was wearing a one-piece I had bought at TJ Maxx (which is a goldmine, by the way, for cheap swimsuits) when someone asked me outright why I never wore bikinis. I shrugged, not because I didn’t want to answer, but because I didn’t have an answer. I know you’re not supposed to give in to peer pressure, but literally that weekend I went to Target and found a simple black two-piece that I felt didn’t stand out too much. I wore it out the next time I went to a pool. I know teen girls can be incredibly mean (and accurate with their meanness), but they can also be incredibly supportive and wonderful. [bf_image id="qg3fqi-9jjhxs-cakgoj"]
Over the next years and up until about now, I ditched my one-piece suits. I kept a few, just as backups, but I haven’t worn one in public since sophomore year. My collection has expanded since then, breaching out into yellow and blue. I prefer high-waisted bottoms and moderate cover tops, but there are so many options.
Finding the right style of suit, however, is the most amazing feeling and inspires a sense of self-appreciation and knowledge. In the past few years, the body positivity movement has coerced fashion brands into creating more designs for more body types across the board. For bathing suits specifically, you can have high-waisted suits that cover your belly button, or you can have low-waisted suits that show off your hips. There are suits with high leg cutouts and suits that look more like shorts! For tops, you can pick something that covers your chest a little more or you can have a triangle suit. There are so many different styles because every body is different, and the way you choose to see yourself is your choice alone.
I know the struggle with two-pieces is not a singular experience, and that almost everyone has had issues with how they see themselves at some point or another. So I hope, in some possible way, that new styles can empower others and help make the world’s stomachs a little more tan. [bf_image id="k5prgqrvp699r4t94n9csjj"]