Fatkini hashtag inspires sexiness at any size

RACHEL CLUN
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014
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Gabi Fresh for Swimwear for All

BIKINI BABES: Gabi Fresh (second from right) models her new range of bikinis.

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Instagram/tessmunster
OVERCOMING FEARS: Tess Munster's #fatkini post on Instagram.

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'Fat activists' have been using the fatkini hashtag to show that everyone can look good in a swimsuit and more and more women are getting on board.

The Fatkini trend is a fast-growing movement on Instagram and Tumblr, with women posting positive images embracing their bikini bodies.

The trend is widely acknowledged to have been started in 2012 when Gabi Fresh wrote a blog post calling on women of all shapes to take the courage to don whatever swimwear they want.

"I truly encourage you guys to get to the beach (or a pool) this summer - don't let body shame keep you from having a good time," she wrote in the original 2012 post.

"I don't expect everyone to feel comfortable in a two-piece, but hopefully I can inspire some of you to take the plunge," she said. "I can't tell you how freeing it is to just have fun without worrying about what other people think.

Woman have certainly answered her call to put on pretty bikinis, thanks in part to companies like Forever 21 introducing pretty plus-sized swimwear options.

Body positive activist Tess Munster is just one of many women who posted photographs of themselves showing any woman can wear a bikini.

"Today I am celebrating being able to swim with my son without worrying what others might say ... and guess what," she wrote on her Instagram post. "No one cared that my tummy was out and it was glorious."

Mey, on Autostraddle, says one of the great things about the growth of the fatkini hashtag is that it's not only picture-perfect chubby or curvy women posting, it's also women who are even larger than size 20 posting images of themselves.

"In these women's bodies I can see myself. I also love that so many of them are calling themselves fat, which at least for me, is such a freeing thing," Mey writes.

"When we move away from 'you're not fat, you're beautiful' and into 'you're fat and beautiful', that's when you know that we're starting to win battles."

Mey says the fact that women are taking these photos at the beach - the most public area possible - is another reason to be inspired.

"When there are so many people who look like me standing up and showing off their bodies and they sense of style in such a public forum, I can't help but be inspired," she writes. "This is definitely the kind of body positive movement I can get behind."

Designer Marie Denee tells online magazine Colorlines the fatkini hashtag is creating a visible community of women who not only gain support from one another but also have more ability to influence brands.

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"Social media allows for these women to congregate, interact with other," said Denee, founder of the blog The Curvy Fashionista.

"They're like, 'Oh you like bikinis too? Let's demand our bikinis!'"

The demands have worked: thanks to her prominence in the #fatkini world Fresh recently launched her own colourful line of swimwear for Swimsuits for All, starting of a three-year collaboration with the company.

For those baring their bodies on the beach - and on social media - it can be an empowering experience.

Fat activist and blogger Virgie Tovar told Colorlines the first time she wore a bikini at the beach, it was scary and liberating. "There's not only this sense that I'm transgressing this rule that fat girls don't wear bikinis," Tovar said.

 "There's [also] this corporeal experience of the wind and sun on my stomach. That feeling is not only novel and exhilarating but also political."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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