The Perfect Bikini Doesn't Exist
I’ve owned a lot of bathing suits in my life. I wish I knew exactly how many.
I was born and raised in the suburbs by the coast. Newbury Park was only a short 20-30 minute drive down PCH until you would arrive at some of the best beaches in Southern California. As a kid, I grew my gills and fins in the community pool, taking swim lessons from as early as I can remember. I got older and joined the swim team and the water polo team.
The summers of my teen years were spent shuffling between polo practice in the mornings, beach trips in the afternoons, and lifeguarding in the evenings. My skin was golden bronze and my hair was sun kissed, and crisp, and air dried perfectly into soft waves. I never had real clothes or shoes on. I lived in a swimsuit. Those summers are some of the best memories that I have of my adolescence.
The strange thing is, growing up, I was pretty uncomfortable in my own skin. This made bathing suits my enemy. I felt like a fraud because that was my uniform. Being in a swimsuit was a part of my identity, but in reality, it never really felt natural. I could never get used to something that hugged every insecurity of mine so tightly.
It’s not really something you can explain, or put into words. It’s a feeling and only a feeling. A felling that you’re foreign in your own body. Like you’re never totally in control.
When you don’t like your body, the moment of reveal is anxiety inducing. From the second you drop your towel or take off your shirt or pants, it feels like everyone is staring you up and down. Any sudden movement from that point on becomes an invitation for people to size you up. Your tummy, your butt, your boobs, your shoulders, your arms, your legs, your skin. It feels like they’re all up for judgement. I remember it feeling like a nightmare where I was stuck in a beauty pageant that I never meant to enter. All your insecurities are so exposed in a swimsuit and if you haven’t accepted them, or at least come to terms with them, they become the only thing you can think about.
It’s sad to reflect and think about all those years I was never comfortable in my own body. I still get hints of those feelings on bad days. The upsetting fact of the matter is that I know so many girls, and even guys, will know where I’m coming from, too. If it’s hard for you to understand what I’m talking about, or you can’t quite place the feeling I’m trying so hard to put into words, I’d consider yourself lucky.
Oh, how life comes full circle! Growing up I had spent years collecting and wearing these little fabric articles that I loved to look at but hated to put on my body. Today, my career actually revolves around the very thing that once seemed to be my biggest enemy - swim suits.
I love to joke and say “I’m in the bikini business”. It’s funny and sounds like a total wash, but a business it is. There’s actually a lot going on in the business of bikinis! It’s amazing how many different ways a simple little thing can be reinvented.
Plus, it’s a business that inherently revolves around accomplishing a single feeling - feeling good in your own skin. I mean, if you feel like shit in a swimsuit, what’s the likelihood of you buying it for yourself? Self love is the ultimate goal, and I kind of adore that about the bikini business.
I guess it was something I had never really thought about before. The more I began to learn about why we wear bikinis, the women who designed swimwear, the women who wore it, and the women who modeled it, the more I started to feel ok about embracing my own body in a bikini. Since I started working in swimwear, I’ve noticed a gradual but steady build of self confidence. Each time I work with someone new, I learn a little lesson about loving myself.
One of my favorite things about working with so many women in this particular business is that you’re never really able to guess exactly what someone prefers. Everyone has their own gold standard for swim suits. It’s kind of mysterious, and if someone tells you, it feels like you’re keeping a secret of theirs. Some girls want to show off their curves, first and foremost. Some girls prefer something that compliments their skin tone, above all else. Some like certain areas covered, and certain areas exposed. Some girls think they know what they want until they try it on and it’s definitely not that. I’ve been each one of these girls on different occasions.
Mostly, I’ve always wanted a bathing suit to be functional and hold me in place. I want something with coverage that’s still complementing to my shape. I hate pinching. I hate frills. I love color. That’s just me.
Pretty simple, huh? You’d think that the perfect bikini is definitely out there for me, right? There has to be something out there for everyone. That’s what I thought too, when I first started my job.
But it’s not true. I’ve tried on tons and tons throughout my whole life, and I don’t have to try every bikini in the world. I know that the perfect bikini doesn’t exist.
I’ll tell you why.
I’ve learned that a piece of fabric - no matter how flattering, and how cute, and good it makes you feel - will never be enough to teach you that you’re already great exactly the way you are. A bikini will never be able to tell you that skin folds and tummy rolls and stretch marks are actually extremely human. A bikini can’t make you understand that hating all of those human things about yourself is way more embarrassing than embracing them. A bikini doesn’t change with you and won’t stay good forever.
Don’t get me wrong I've thought I have tried on the perfect bikini, and I won’t lie I have some killer ones, but it’s not necessarily the physical suit that makes me feel like a million bucks. It definitely helps, but it’s me who did all the work. I was the one who got myself over the hurdle of tolerance and made it to appreciating my body for all that it is and all that it does for me. A piece of fabric cannot do this for you. You do that for you.
What I’m trying to say is, sure, a bikini might have the power to make you think damn, I look good, but ultimately you have that power to allow yourself to think and feel that way.
It hasn’t been a simple realization for me. I think it’s taken putting myself into some uncomfortable positions and sometimes feeling my worst to get to where I’m at today. Mostly, I have the bikini business to thank. I’m proud of the way I look at myself and honestly, I’m still working on doing even better. It’s easy to tell yourself things like “every body is a bikini body”, but really the only thing left to do after saying it is choosing to believe it.
I want to be a good example for other women. I want girls (and guys!) to know that everyone has had such a different and enduring journey with their own body image. It’s ok if you’re still trying to get there.
Actual self confidence and genuine love for your own body will never come from a bikini, or any piece of clothing. It will come from yourself. It will come from watching other women love themselves. It will come from realizing that many other people have also struggled and grown from it. It will come from the feeling you get when you realize one day you are much kinder to the girl in the mirror at age 25 than you were at age 12.
So no, I don’t think the perfect bikini exists. I’ve settled for swimsuits that are pretty great or even fucking amazing, but they’ll never be perfect. If you think you’ve found the perfect bikini, it’s probably just that you’re developing a more perfect vision of yourself.
Good work :')