With warm weather just around the corner, most of us have “bikini bodies” on the brain. But what does that mean, exactly? It seems a little bit ridiculous that mainstream culture would have us believe that only one really specific type of body actually qualifies as a beach body. Here are 7 women who prove that every body is a bikini body!
1. Michelle Elman
Have you heard about @instagram ‘s awesome My Story campaign? It’s highlighting 28 women on Instagram who are beating the stereotypes. How incredible is that! •••••••••• Here is #mystory : I am Michelle and I am a Body Confidence and the person behind the Scarred Not Scared Campaign. My Instagram is all about self-care and loving your body exactly the way it is and I’m passionate about this because of the scars all over my body. I’ve had 15 surgeries, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in my brain and a condition called hydrocephalus and my body bears the scars of each of those battles. In person, you might not see them but when you are wearing a bikini, you can see them. When you are changing in PE in front of your friends, you can see them and when you are taking your top off for the first time, you can see them. This is why I launched #scarrednotscared because we should all stand proud that we have overcome our scars, whether they are emotional or physical and that’s what I am all about over on my Instagram – loving your body and appreciating the ability it gives you. I love that this campaign is about breaking the stereotypes because despite all of this, I have graduated with a degree in psychology by the age of 20, started a business by 21, and launched by campaign by the age of 22. That is because I am not the stereotypical idea of illness and medical trauma. We are just as capable. I am Michelle and this is #mystory
Body confidence coach Michelle Elman is all about self-love and the body positivity movement. After undergoing over 15 different surgeries by the time she was 20, Elman started the “Scarred not Scared” campaign to help women become more comfortable with their bodies and gain the confidence they deserve. She is a huge advocate for her cause, frequently speaking out about it both on television and on social media. Michelle doesn’t let negativity get to her head, showing nothing but love for her detractors. “My response to most of these [negative comments] are ones of kindness; I thank them for taking the time to read the article and sharing their opinion,” Michelle says. “The intention of the blog post and my campaign is to talk about scars and bring awareness to surgery scars, the conversation of my weight is irrelevant and is my business.” We love that, just like we love Michelle!
2. Becky Freeman
On her blog Fashion Food Fotos, Becky Freeman writes about—well, fashion, food and photography! She’s also a firm believer in setting your own standards, and not comparing yourself to celebrities or Instagram models. “It would be better to just try to be the healthiest, happiest version of yourself year-round than to let yourself fluctuate in a cycle of spin classes, pizza, and self-hatred,” Becky says. “Secondly, we need to stop comparing ourselves to celebrities. We are not them. When you have millions of dollars, no 9 to 5, and it’s literally your job to look that flawless, trust me, you can and you will. The focus should be on finding swimwear that fits your body, not the other way around.” This seems so obvious when we think about it!
3. Tiffany Gonzalez
Tiffany Gonzalez is currently at work writing the Bible—the Fashion Bible, that is. The Miami-based fashion blogger and publicist keeps her readers up to date on her favorite products and outfits, and wants every one of her readers to feel comfortable in her own skin. “We don’t know the struggles each woman may face with her body,” Tiffany says. “Instead of judging her for being too big or too small or too fit, we should encourage her beauty, because at the end of the day, we never know what that person may be going through and rude comments can really damage someone.” We couldn’t agree more!
4. Veronica Grey
It seems like there’s nothing that surfer, author, activist, supermodel and documentary-filmmaker Veronica Grey can’t do. She definitely spends a lot of time on the beach, surfing and educating people about the sharks she works hard to protect. She thinks anybody who wants to wear a bikini should totally go for it. “Who wants to spend all summer indoors, or even worse, wearing too much coverage with unforgiving tan lines?” Veronica asks. “It is a known statistic that the #1 fear in America is public speaking or public appearances. The #2 fear is death. People would rather die than make a bad impression.” With all the work she’s been doing lately, Veronica has focused on bigger things than worrying about what other people think of her. Her fearlessness and go-getting attitude are majorly inspiring. You go, Veronica!
5. Christina Mendez
Plus-size model Christina Mendez is proud of her curves, and with good reason! The New York fashionista has modeled for Baby Phat, House of Dereon and BET, among many others. She rocks every outfit she puts on, and the companies she works for think so, too, which is something that she finds a major motivation. “As a professional plus-size model, I am not immune to criticism regarding my body,” Christina says. When she gets negative comments, she says they’re ”hurtful for about 30 seconds. But then I remember that I was hired by the company because they thought I looked good the way I am without losing any weight.” This year, and in 2014 and 2013, she walked the runway at New York Fashion Week. She has some advice for young women who might be struggling with their body image: “Know that you are beautiful and embrace the beauty within you! I’ve struggled with body issues all my life but once I decided to embrace my given curves everything became clearer,” she says. “I keep myself surrounded with positive people and I make sure to say at least 3 things I love about myself.” We think she’s an awesome model and an awesome role model. You rock, Christina!
6. Mari Draughon
The Goofy Mermaid, aka fashion blogger Mari Draughon, is dedicated to living a green, organic lifestyle. After being diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis in 2014, she wanted to reach out on a larger platform and speak about issues of health and beauty, among other things. Her diagnoses really changed the way she looked at the choices she was making. “I became more mindful of my choices and adopted a more organic way of living—which not only includes what I put into my body, but what I put onto it as well,” Mari says. That mindfulness resulted in a deeper connection with my body and a better understanding of what exactly it does for me each day.” She believes that self-care is super important, and that it isn’t worth it to try out diet fads or perform extreme amounts of excercise. “Love and nurture your body and it will love and nurture you in return,” Mari says. “You don’t have to put it through dangerous diets and strenuous exercise in order to feel good, instead nurture it with wholesome foods and positive thoughts and I promise your body image will change. You may still have cellulite, but you’ll be healthy and a healthy body is a beautiful body.” Thanks for the advice, Mari!
7. Aniesia Williams
Brand executive, journalist and digital strategist Aniesia Williams is big on helping people with communicating. The North Carolina native and LA transplant is a huge proponent of confidence, and finds it to be a really important aspect of living a full life. “As plus-size ladies, we want to look and feel like our ‘faux bikinis’ are cute on the beach too!” Aniesia says. “If you aren’t confident in who you are and your body, it can mess with your head and affect the way you live your life.” With her new contracts with major car companies and her recent trip to Hong Kong for Business of Design Week, Aniesia’s got a lot to be proud of. She was even named the Social Media Influencer of the Year in 2013. “I am so comfortable in my skin,” Aniesia says. “It’s all about being healthy, confident, and sexy at any size.” It sure is! Aniesia’s book is totally one we’re going to be taking a page or two from.
Bikini bodies are all about confidence. And the weather’s getting warmer, so head down to the beach—you look great already!