The idea of getting your body summer ready is such a ubiquitous part of our culture; we all understand the underlying message: fat bodies are supposed to be covered up. "Swimsuit season" is the antithesis of covered up, it's about exposure. We're all expected to be like Cathy, standing in the dressing room in a swimsuit saying "Ack."
But what if we, you know, just didn't? What if we could just put on whatever swimsuit we wanted? What if our bodies were always summer ready because there were no expectations on what we were supposed to look like?
Like a lot of folks, I watched the fat babe pool party on Shrill with a certain sense of awe and glee. Seeing actual fat women doing exactly what we're not supposed to do - existing without shame, bodies exposed to the sun, dancing, swimming - felt inherently liberating. And seeing it on television? Mind-blowing!
But also, for me, it had extra resonance because I've experienced this in real life, and you know what? It was just as thrilling.
Last year I went to the first ever Not So Skinny Dip: a plus-size pool party. First things first, I went alone! My friend date for the evening wasn't feeling well, and I almost backed out for fear of having to go to an event where I knew no one (except for the hostess) by myself.
I'm an introvert who's good at turning on the charm and conversation for work situations but awful at doing it in social settings. But I decided, I may as well face my fears and go anyway. What better way to face your social anxiety than in a bikini?
On my walk over, I saw a gaggle of total babes in coverups sauntering down the sidewalk towards the Frenchmen hotel and was like *insert ten thousand heart eyes emojis.* I arrived and got a cute gift bag with sunscreen and other little items in it, which was a nice touch. There was a bar with drinks and food upstairs on the roof deck, but I'm all about that water, so I made a beeline for the pool in the courtyard of the hotel.
I settled in to admire the swimsuit fashions surrounding me. There were some cute fringy numbers, fun florals, tropical prints, solids, tankinis, one-pieces, and bikinis (and even a couple string bikinis!), all worn with no shame. Women were laughing, chatting, and just existing in their bodies; it was truly beautiful.
A photographer was wandering about snapping shots (consensually, they asked before they took photos, which I was very grateful for); I'm a total goober, so I froze up and had no idea how to pose when they asked to take mine, but it was all very cute. I should note that I've seen the photos and they were all so amazing! The photographer did a great job capturing the beauty and joy of the people there. There were so many great shots.
As I've mentioned, I'm no good with social situations, but luckily, two sweet ladies started chatting with me, which loosened me up and made me more comfortable with socializing in general. We complimented each other's swimsuits and talked about shopping, our lives, jobs, etc. It ended up being an incredible genuine moment and - because I have no idea how to do small social talk - we got real deep, real fast.
We discussed fatphobia and our unique journeys towards body positivity and fat acceptance. Getting deep in the shallow end? Sorry! Y'all, I'm so bad at parties, I always end up talking to a couple of people for hours and never doing anything else.
I never even made it up to the rooftop bar, which was a bummer because after checking social media when I got home, I found out that an old friend, who I rarely get to see, was up there hanging out the whole time I was in the pool! Doh. Totally my fault for getting so caught up in a conversation downstairs. I'm excited about this year's location change, The Drifter. With no upstairs/downstairs party split it will be easier to make the rounds. And maybe I'll push past my small talk-phobia and introduce myself to the babe gaggle.
-Yvette Del Rio