Summer’s in swing, which means that it’s swimsuit season. For most women, swimsuit season causes serious feelings. We live in a culture that constantly polices women’s bodies. We’re told how we’re supposed to look and what we’re supposed to do to look that way. The months preceding summer are all about getting a swimsuit body – what diet you have to go on, which workout you have to commit to, all the things you have to do to change your body in order to earn the right to wear a bikini.
To make matters worse, we’re surrounded by images of women who embody the thin ideal, the standard of beauty which dictates that women have to be super thin in order to be attractive. These super thin women are held up as the goal we should be aiming for, even though most of the female population cannot healthily achieve that body type.
The result of all this body policing is that women panic every time summer comes around. Swimsuit shopping is widely regarded as a traumatic experience, yet we all subject ourselves to it on an almost yearly basis.
The truth is, if the beauty standards changed, if women who had normal sized bodies or even large bodies, were considered attractive, swimsuit season wouldn’t be a big deal at all. The only reason it’s so traumatic is because women are constantly made to feel like their bodies aren’t good enough. If society shifted its perceptions so that all bodies were “swimsuit bodies” women would be happier, healthier, and we’d all get to enjoy summer a bit more.
Luckily, there are some amazing plus size models who are showing off their swimsuit bodies in order to change beauty ideals. Here are some plus size models rocking bikinis who’ll give you so much envy.
13 Gabi Gregg of Gabifresh
Gabi Gregg is serious #goals in so many ways. Her clothes and makeup are always on point. So on point that she has an insanely popular fashion and beauty blog called Gabifresh. Her blog has gotten so popular that she’s become a professional fashion and beauty blogger. She also has a line of swimsuits that she designed for Swimsuits for All.
So, it’s no wonder that she looks absolutely amazing in a bikini. Here she’s rocking a high waisted bikini that she designed herself for the Swimsuits for All collection. Can you imagine getting to rock a bikini you literally designed? The flamingos are super cute.
Gabi is never afraid to show her stomach or her deliciously thick thighs, cellulite and all. She’s constantly pushing the limits of the fashion industry by showing us all that all bodies are beautiful bodies.
12 Jolene of Boardroom Blonde
In a world that’s so fixated on thin bodies, plus size women have to create their own space in the fashion world. That’s exactly what Jolene did when she created Boardroom Blonde, her personal style website. Jolene didn’t see many women like her in the fashion world, so she started creating YouTube videos about her style choices and how to put together a killer outfit as a plus sized woman.
Eventually, she started a blog as a companion to her YouTube channel. The blog quickly gained a large readership and after only seven months of blogging, she was featured on the website The Curvy Fashionista, which propelled her in to the public eye. She uses her blog and her YouTube channel to show off her impeccable style and to connect with other plus sized women who are unsure of where to find cute outfits.
Jolene also has a strong Instagram game, which is where you can see her looking super fly in a bikini. Jolene’s beach pics are a great reminder that all you need to do to get a swimsuit body is put a swimsuit on your body.
11 Ivory Jinelle
Ivory Jinelle is important to the world of plus size fashion blogging for a ton of reasons. First, she’s a strong black woman whose fashion game is pretty unrivaled. Second, she’s not just another Millennial. She’s actually in her late thirties, which isn’t common for fashion bloggers. She’s representing plus size fashion in completely different light. Her style is just as cool as any of the newer fashion bloggers, but she’s putting a different face and body type on fashion.
She’s also a veteran of the fashion blogging game. She’s been blogging on her style blog since 2011 and she’s been featured on a bunch of other high-profile websites including Buzzfeed, Bustle, and Gabifresh. She started her fashion blog so she could show other women that fashion wasn’t just for skinny white women, and she’s succeeding in her mission admirably.
In this awesome, bright orange bikini, Ivory is showing the world that bikinis aren’t just for one body shape. She’s more pear shaped than the more accepted hourglass figure, but she doesn’t let that stop her from slaying.
10 Jessica Biffi
Jessica Biffi is a plus size model whose partner is a professional photographer – a match made in Heaven. On her personal website, she gives the world a peek in to her super awesome life. She blogs about fashion and makeup, like most style bloggers, but she also shares her personal life and beliefs with her readers.
Jessica sees herself primarily as a body image activist. She’s an advocate of the body positivity movement, which encourages women to embrace themselves as they are, to love their shape and size whether or not its seen as socially acceptable. She uses her blog as a platform to discuss body positivity, fat acceptance, and body activism.
This shot is from a professional photo shoot where she modeled plus size bikinis and beachwear. This shot proves that fashionable bikinis exist for all kinds of women, whether or not they have what society deems a “bikini body.”
9 Glitter of Glitter and Lazers
Glitter and Lazers is a delightfully funny, fun, and hip look at plus sized fashion. Glitter, the online personality taken on by the woman behind the blog, is brutally and hilariously honest about the struggles of being a plus sized woman in a world obsessed with thinness.
The fashion industry has started to represent more women, but they’re still restrictive in what sizes and types of plus size bodies they show. Plus size models glorified by the fashion industry are typically a size 16 at the most and still have the coveted “hourglass figure.” Glitter has big thighs, a small bust, and an ample stomach – which all adds up to a body shape we’re told is not beautiful, but Glitter DGAF. She’s clear that she doesn’t let her body size or shape interfere with living the life she wants to live. She does what she wants, she wears what she wants, and she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
She also wrote an amazing piece for her blog about the true struggles of staying body positive while swimsuit shopping that you should definitely check out. She also features articles in which she tries on cute bikinis, like the one here.
It’s so important for women of all sizes and shapes to strut around in bikinis because it reinforces the fact that body shape and size has nothing to do with what swimwear we’re allowed to wear.
8 Megan Jayne Crabbe of Body Posi Panda
One of my favorite body positive bloggers out there is Megan Jayne Crabbe, who’s created the online persona “Body Posi Panda.” Megan struggled with body image and eating issues for years before she discovered the body positive movement online.
One of the things I love so much about her is that she often shares her own versions of “Before and After” photos. In the “Before” photos she’s skinny, but super unhealthy, and in the after photos she’s plus sized, happy, and healthy. One of the main messages of her blog is that being skinny is not the same as being healthy and that for many people, being skinny is actually unhealthy and miserable. Megan spreads the message that healthy and happy bodies come in all sizes, no matter what the media says.
She frequently posts beach photos on her Instagram, showing off her killer curves. She always pairs the picture with an affirming message about how you don’t have to buy in to diet culture and torture your body to get in shape for summer. You can just put on a bikini and go to the beach!
7 Sarah Rae Vargas
Sarah Rae Vargas started her blog a couple of years after her children were born, only nine months apart! The blog started out as her way to share her thoughts about parenting and life in general, but it eventually morphed in to a full-on lifestyle blog, which gained a huge readership.
A couple of years later, she started a YouTube channel, and found a whole new audience. She eventually started a series on her YouTube channel about accepting her plus sized body and her journey toward body positivity. Her website changed to focus more solely on fashion and beauty, and she became an icon in the body positive fashion blogging world.
As a Latinix woman, Sarah’s presence in the world of fashion blogging is super important. So many of the fashion bloggers prominent on the Internet are white women. There are very few plus size, Latinix women in the fashion industry. Sarah’s popularity in the fashion blogging world is a testament to the importance of representation.
6 Alysse Dalessandro of Ready to Stare
When it comes to the world of plus size fashion, Alysse Dalessandro does it all, literally. She’s a fashion designer who designs clothes for women of all sizes, especially plus size women. She’s also a body positive activist, a writer, a fashion and beauty blogger, and a professional public speaker. As if that’s not enough, Alysse also designs and makes her own jewelry.
She’s been writing professionally since college, and she broke in to the fashion industry when she owned a vintage clothing boutique. When she moved on from that venture, she went back to jewelry making and opened her own Etsy shop. A bit later, she began blogging about body positive fashion and activism for multiple, and gained a sizeable following on social media. She went on to write about the same topics for many high-profile websites.
As her interest in body positive fashion grew, she began designing her own clothes, which she showed off on her site and eventually began selling her own line, which is available on her website.
Alysse frequently shows off her stellar beach style on her Instagram.
5 Callie Thorpe
Callie Thorpe has been blogging about fashion and beauty on her own website for about five years. She’s been a staple of the plus size fashion blogging community for years, but she wasn’t prepared for the spotlight that would come from being featured in a list by Vogue UK about the hottest bikini trends.
The photo above was featured in a slideshow for Vogue UK’s website about this summer’s bikini trends. Of course, the slideshow featured fashion icons like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, but surprisingly, it also included some plus size beauties and Callie was one of them. Callie was thrilled to be featured by a brand as prominent Vogue, so she shared the link all over social media. Though she’s familiar with trolls because of her online blog, she wasn’t prepared for the violently mean comments on the link to the Vogue slideshow.
She made a video about how it made her feel and it went viral. The incident and her video are important conversation starters about the abuse plus size women face from people who feel the need to police their bodies.
It’s awful that people felt the need to tear her down, especially when she looks so radiantly amazing in this photo!
4 Nancy Ramirez
Nancy Ramirez is a LA native whose family actually convinced her to go to an open call for plus size models. She attended the open call and found out that it was for a modeling school in her area. After some research in to the school, Nancy decided that she couldn’t afford to go. A few months later the school actually called her and offered her a scholarship because they’d seen her photo. She attended modeling school and eventually competed in the Miss Plus Top Model competition, which she won.
After that, she focused on landing catalog and magazine gigs, which she’s been doing regularly since about 2009. She’s modeled for quite a few prominent companies, including Mint Swim, so it’s no wonder she’s not shy about posting bikini photos, like the one above, all over social media.
She’s also a huge advocate of the body positive community. For her, self-care is essential body positivity, so she always focuses on what she can do for herself.
Dandridge is a prime example of how boldness and taking control can change your life. She followed the brand Domino Dollhouse, a body positive clothing company, on Tumblr and was so impressed with their clothing that she reached out and asked them if they were looking for models. Dandridge ended up modeling for them and went on to model for multiple other plus size clothing brands.
Her name is an homage to the first black actress to be nominated for an Oscar, Dorothy Dandridge. When she saw a movie starring Dandridge as a child she saw the possibility for a strong, beautiful, classy black woman to be successful. Dandridge, whose real name is Jennifer, says that she wants to show young black women, especially young black plus sized women, that they can be successful as well.
To Dandridge, her style is her voice, her expression of herself. Black woman’s voices are so often taken from them, so her expression through her style is her way to ensure that no one can ever keep her silent.
2 Hunter McGrady
In the past, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue always featured the same kind of models: thin, usually white women. In 2016, Sports Illustrated made an exciting announcement: they’d feature plus size model Ashley Graham on the cover. While Ashley certainly did quite a bit to advance the public acceptance of plus size models, she’s not the only amazing plus size model out there, and she’s not even the only plus size SI swimsuit model.
Hunter McGrady has the distinction of being the curviest plus size woman ever to be featured in the SI swimsuit issue. Hunter had wanted to be a model since she was a teen and spent years torturing her body with restrictive diets to stay at a low weight. When she discovered plus size modeling, she finally started treating her body right and allowed it to be the size it wanted to be. She found that she could be even more successful as a plus size beauty.
Since then, she’s been making us all jealous with how amazing she looks in a bikini.
1 Fluvia Lacerda
Fluvia Lacerda is a Brazilian bombshell who’s been dubbed by some “the plus size Gisele Bundchen.” She’s a very popular model in Europe, Latin America, and the States as well. She’s modeled for plus size clothing brands, like Torrid, and she’s even been featured in Vogue Italy.
Though she’s been wildly successful modeling for multiple brands, Fluvia is most famous for being the first plus size model to ever get a cover for Playboy Brazil. Playboy is one of the many magazines responsible for creating and perpetuating the thin ideal by featuring super thin models throughout its pages. While some magazines have expanded their selection of models to regularly include plus size women, magazines where women are scantily clad typically stick to super thin models.
However, Playboy Brazil broke the mold in 2016 by announcing that they would feature Fluvia on the cover. Fluvia is no stranger to showing some skin in her photoshoots. Her Instagram is full of amazing bikini pics, including the one above.
Sources: Instagram, Gabifresh, Boardroom Blonde, Ivory Jinelle’s personal site, The Curvy Fashionista, Plus Model Magazine, Glittter and Lazers, Body Posi Panda, Ready to Stare, Sarah Rae Vargas’ personal site, Refinery 29, Wear Your Voice Magazine, People, Revelist