Body pos­i­tiv­ity ac­tivist and writer Sa­man­tha Steel on how not to fear ly­cra this sum­mer

Elle (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - @mc­stee­lio

swim­suits are for ev­ery­one

‘Ev­ery­body has a beach body’ is the kind of twee schmaltz that’s great to see on Pin­ter­est, but doesn’t help me at all when De­cem­ber rolls around and I’m left grab­bing my stom­ach in the mir­ror, try­ing to choose a swim­ming cos­tume. I won­der, ‘Which one of these alarm­ingly re­veal­ing bits of Ly­cra most makes me look like plus-sized model Au­drey Ritchie and hides all the wob­bly bits I nor­mally cover up with fash­ion?’ The an­swer, nat­u­rally, is: ‘NONE OF THEM!’ Which is why your ap­proach to swim­ming cos­tumes has to be to­tally dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­thing else in your closet. Nat­u­rally, swim­ming cos­tumes amp up all body is­sues, fears, and con­cerns. The thought of dis­play­ing your fig­ure – let alone ac­tu­ally hav­ing fun and go­ing for a swim – is of­ten why women turn to un­flat­ter­ing shorts, kaf­tans, and other cre­ative ways to cover up. It might seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive, but wear­ing swim­suits that are more form-fit­ting in bold print and have sub­tle mesh de­tails is more flat­ting than cov­er­ing your­self up with baggy shorts and over­sized shapes. Let’s face it, though, there are strate­gic ways to choose cos­tumes that help you look your best when bar­ing it all and em­pha­sis­ing your favourite fea­tures, the real chal­lenge with swimwear is hav­ing a hand­ful of con­fi­dence; lay­ing aside years of self-ha­tred and body sham­ing and al­low­ing your­self to feel good in your skin. Karen Fursten­berg, plus-sized spe­cial­ist and for­mer owner of Kaz Lin­gerie, a lo­cal plus­size swim­ming cos­tume and lin­gerie brand, says that her big­gest chal­lenge is en­cour­ag­ing con­fi­dence. Eas­ier said than done, right? It’s time we changed the way we talk to our­selves. Talk to your­self the way you’d talk to a friend. Treat your­self with that same en­cour­ag­ing kind­ness and pos­i­tiv­ity. Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Alexa Young says, ‘We need to eval­u­ate our thoughts with the fol­low­ing: is the way I’m talk­ing to my­self now mak­ing me feel bet­ter or mov­ing me to­wards a goal, or not?’ She adds that it’s vi­tal to ‘recog­nise that ber­at­ing our­selves isn’t go­ing to change a thing. In fact, it will prob­a­bly make things worse by trig­ger­ing a whole bunch of tough emo­tions such as shame and anx­i­ety’. Bring on sum­mer, pool days and con­fi­dence be­cause as eye-roll wor­thy as this sounds, ev­ery­body does have a beach body. En­joy yours. CHOOS­ING A SWIM­SUIT

Karen shares her tips:

• Choose a brand that de­signs for full fig­ures as they tend to have stronger, more sup­port­ive fab­ric and a wider range of cup sizes. A swim­suit is sup­posed to be as func­tional as it is sexy.

• Your breasts have to fit! This is the big­gest mis­take most women make, most com­monly get­ting a cup size that is way too small. A bou­tique is your best bet for a pro­fes­sional fit­ting.

• Ruch­ing and gath­ers are kind to the ap­pear­ance of tummies and can be flat­ter­ing on your curves in all the ways you love.

• Be bold with pat­terns and colours! Sure, they draw at­ten­tion, but the magic is in their abil­ity to hide any un­wanted lumps or bumps.

• Sheer fab­rics are very flat­ter­ing, be­cause the eye is drawn to parts you choose to show.

• Monoki­nis and con­tour pan­els cre­ate a flat­ter­ing il­lu­sion of body shape. • High-waisted bot­toms tuck in the tummy and draw the eye to your nar­row waist. BRANDS

• Mir­a­cle­suit: This top-of-the-range brand is pricey, but well worth it. With good qual­ity fab­ric, a large range of de­signs, and a fo­cus on de­sign for larger breasts, you can keep and wear these cos­tumes for sev­eral years.

• Moon­tide: Great for larger cup sizes. • SeaFolly: A wide range of prints and pat­terns in fab­rics to smooth you out, SeaFolly is a great op­tion to try to stay on top of trends.

• Sun Things: This South African brand has merged Jac­que­line and Sun Love to form Sun Things, in a truly ac­ces­si­ble price range.


BOT­TOM, R179, H&M

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