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Flaunt It: Why Big Girls Shouldn't Wear Big Swimsuits

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Anonymous: "Big girl, you are beautiful," goes the song -- and it's true. So here's a message to my fellow plus-sized gal pals out there: Step away from the big skirted swimsuits and swim dresses.

I was never the kind of girl who could slip effortlessly into a bikini -- even when my abs were perfect and flat. Two pregnancies and too many days off at the gym took care of that, so the one-piece swimsuit has always been my friend. A few years ago, though, I started buying into the idea that I needed to cover my assets with a skirted suit. After several summers suffering under all that extra fabric, I've banned those dowdy numbers for good, and will squeeze into a simple and slightly sexy one-piece this year.

Here's why: Skirted suits and swim dresses break the Golden Rule of plus-sized fashion: You can't just cover it up. Boxy cuts hide a lot of sins, sure, but they make a woman look bigger than she really is. They shorten the leg and add extra width at the hips. Several years of scientific research (sitting on my beach towel people-watching, that is) have taught me that skirts just aren't flattering -- not even on the slim swimmers out there.

Swimming in a skirted suit or swim dress is like swimming with your clothes on. If all that extra fabric isn't dragging you down to the bottom of the pool, then it's floating up and hanging around your armpits. The minute you come out of the pool, it's all wrinkled up and sticks uncomfortably to your skin. Flattering. For that same reason, skirted suits aren't suited for exercise, and swimming is an excellent way to burn off a few extra calories.

I know, I know -- you just aren't comfortable putting it all out there without something covering your butt and thighs. I hear you, I do. But there are a multitude of options out there that can make you feel comfortable and pretty at the same time. Here are some tips for your next swimsuit shopping trip:

  • When it comes to clothing, black is a popular slimming color. But when picking out a swimsuit, look for a flattering pattern that will camouflage any lumps and bumps you might be trying to hide.
  • Suits that have shirring or twists in the fabric that form a diagonal line are also great for accentuating a waistline and hiding bulges.
  • Suits with slimming panels are great, but make sure they aren't too tight. You can't squeeze fat into nonexistence; it has to go somewhere.
  • If you're above a DD cup, look for swimsuits with a built-in bra. A shelf bra -- or, worse, no bra -- just won't offer enough support. Halter-top necklines look great on women with larger breasts, and full-coverage suits with a lower back will give you a touch of sexy while still giving you the support you need.
  • Consider replacing that old skirted suit with a sheer wrap or a pair of trendy board shorts that you can slip off before you jump in the water. A cute cover-up does the trick, too.
  • If you must wear a skirt, look for a well-fitting suit in a style that actually flatters your figure and doesn't just cover you up.

Here's how I know I'm right: When I showed my husband the suit I picked out to replace last year's skirted version, he didn't even bat an eye at the $108 price tag. Proof positive it was time for the skirt to go!


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