Ms. Geek Speaks: Fat shaming and the Dear Abby bikini top question

Some people are too comfortable in their own skin. I’d wish I could see less of theirs and this goes for both men and women.  Since I’ve already had a skin cancer scare and know others who have, I don’t lounge around in the sun in a bikini so I agree to some extent with Dear Abby

When I was young, I did have a bikini that was little more than a bandage according to one much more voluptuous friend. With my body type, I don’t really worry about support. I’m watching “The Birdcage” and some of those transvestites have better cleavage than I do. When I was in junior high and high school, my mother discouraged my wearing shorts (not Daisy Dukes) and wearing bikinis. I was 4-foot-10 at the time and about 90 lbs. I did gain a few on freshman year, but slimmed back down to 90 lbs. at 4-foot-11. 

When I first read the Dear Abby letter in question, I understood it without the fat-as-a-feminist issue. Mother doesn’t want her daughter wearing a bikini top because “it makes people feel uncomfortable.” When you’re on your own and visiting your parents, you’re supposed to abide by house rules: Dress code, drug usage (alcohol, smoking, etc.)  and sleeping habits.  

From the letter, we’re not sure exactly who felt uncomfortable, but then it seems likely that the daughter made everyone feel uncomfortable by asking all her aunts and cousins if the felt uncomfortable or was her mother just being puritanical. Pitting cousins and siblings against your mother never helps a family gathering unless you’re playing something like Twister or some team sport and even then it can be a catastrophe.

In some cases, a direct approach won’t get you honesty. It might just get people to say what you want to hear. If you didn’t catch her actual comment, she admitted that not all but “most” of her cousins and aunts. That means at least 51 percent and we don’t actually know if she has any uncles, but one suspects if she has cousins that men were somehow involved. So their opinions didn’t matter or the letter writer wasn’t comfortable enough in her own skin to ask. 

The plus-sized woman who wrote the letter was quick to query if her mother would feel the same about a large man swimming without a T-shirt. Her mother said it was different for men. Here, I’d disagree with her. I’d prefer not to see overweight men swimming without a T-shirt. I’d rather see everyone swimming with a rashguard.  One friend of mine had just finished college and found his days in the sun had left him with cancerous cells on his back that required excision and stitches. 

Other things we don’t know is just how tall the letter writer is and what percentage of her weight that 60-70 pounds is. If she was my height, then 70 pounds would make her morbidly obese. If she’s six foot tall and big boned, then she is more pleasantly plump. 

Nor do we know how much or how little coverage that bikini offers. Is it a string with two small triangles that signal danger with every shift of weight? Or is the bikini top as solid and athletic as what athletes wear for jogging or playing beach volleyball? 

The letter writer might “feel good when my curves are properly accentuated,” but not good enough to go out in public in a bikini.  If you can’t wear it in public then save it for when you’re alone with your significant other only. 

At some point, you have to grow up. Your cousins become potential business partners or sources of referrals and in this day of smartphones, they have them and will take photos as if they were the poor man’s version of paparazzi–hoping for viral fame out of your most embarrassing moments.  



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