Beware The Dreaded Bikini Season, Or Else

Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner and while that’s awesome because, hello, three day weekend*, that’s also terrifying, because Memorial Day means summer and summer means bikinis and bikinis mean plenty of fear-driven ad fodder off which brands hope to make bajillions of dollars. Who wants to go swimming now?

The New York Times explores bikini-phobia (and the businesses that stoke its flames like so many delicate spaghetti straps) in an awkwardly titled Thursday Styles piece, “Bikini Ready’? Who’s Judging?”

So who is judging? Well, women’s magazines, for a start.

Magazines like Shape and Self reinforce the idea that preparation is essential, with months-long bikini body countdowns (100-calorie snack tips included) and workout DVDs like “Bikini Ready Fast!” as if the beach reveal were a test on par with the MCAT and only a slacker would settle for a one-piece.

Good thing we kick butt at standardized tests! Wait, what? It’s not multiple choice? WTF! Anyway, while magazines like Self and Shape are the source of a subtle, pervasive brand of bikiniphobia, businesses and advertisers wear their love for bikiniphobia on their sleeve. Why? Because self-esteem does not encourage people to spend close to $2000 (not including airfare!) on a week at a “bikini boot camp” resort.

“Our society definitely has a stigma of bikini readiness — my business thrives on that,” said Melissa Perlman, an owner of the resort [Amansala], which she said mostly attracts women in their 30s and 40s. “But at the same time, we send a different message that you don’t have to be perfect. Feel good, take care of yourself, and looking good in a bikini will follow.”

Talk about a bait and switch! If we’re going to spend $2000, we want our self-esteem levels to be puddled somewhere around our ankles by the time we leave, thankyouverymuch.

But despite the efforts of magazines, paparazzi, and brands like Yoplait (see their “inspiring” ad below), some women remain immune to bikiniphoba.

Not all women let the camera-phone-wielding bikini police (or their own self-criticism) stop them from enjoying a two-piece. [Swimsuit designer Malia] Mills calls this type a “good-attitude girl.”

“She is a phenomenon and totally inspiring,” she said. “She is of any age, any body, she has a totally great attitude, because she has had a come-to-Jesus moment with her body.”

On that note, we’re about to have a come-to-Jesus moment with our sausage, egg, and cheese, bikini season be damned.

‘Bikini-Ready’? Who’s Judging? [NYT]

*We don’t believe in three day weekends, so we’ll be posting up our regular weekend storm. Come keep us company! We’ll take the pageviews as a sign of your never-ending passion for fashion.

**How awesome is that pic of Marilyn Monroe and her (tiny) squidge of fat peeking out over her bikini bottoms? H-O-T.

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