The movement of the curvy girl is here and swimsuits are at the forefront as summer is drawing near. Many plus-size fashion designers are killin’ it with their mad swimsuit designs like Monif C. The hashtag movements of #swimsuitsforall and the like are empowering, and the constant memes flooding the internet like this one below, offer a sense of daily encouragement. “Pero ponle rewind!” as my comadre would say. It’s not as easy as simply putting on a bikini and bam!
I’m 27 years old and it’s taken me that long to accept my beautiful body, to be able to flaunt it, work it, strut it, and wear a swimsuit. So, while you may think you’re encouraging your curvy sister, be mindful of this. Don’t be pushy, maybe she’s just not there yet. Maybe she doesn’t want to wear a bikini. Offer instead understanding and an ear to listen. My recent experience in wearing a swimsuit for the first time made this all the more clear to me.
I recently did a swimsuit photo-shoot for entry into Curvy Connect Magazine’s online publication. They called for curvy models of culturally-diverse backgrounds for their May 2015 swimsuit edition and I instantly thought, “Hey! I’m a Latina and I’m curvy! This is perfect.” While I started planning my outfit and cultivating a theme, I also found myself contemplating over the fact that I was going to be in a swimsuit. That’s a fact. I never wore one as a kid, let alone as an adult! So, the process wasn’t as easy as putting on a bikini. I had some work to do. But, I wasn’t alone.
Dee Cee Photography is an artistic collaboration between Dulce Arreola (primary photographer) and her partner, Leslie Delgado (secondary photographer & stylist). They are personal friends of mine, which in some way worked out for the best. It was comforting to know that behind the lens were two compassionate people who know me. They have witnessed my transformation, the way I carry myself with a great deal of empathy.
In a sense, it was a domino effect. One conversation with D.C. led to setting a date, selection of swimwear, props, style, lighting, and just BOOM! The hardest part that we struggled with collectively was our artistic experience. Both novices to the plus-size fashion editorial world, we admit that we were scared. Yet, we were constantly encouraging each other, offering daily messages, sending pictures, forming a true bond as artists.
So, what did I do to get ready for this “bare-all” moment? Well, it wasn’t truly a “bare-all” photo shoot. I offered a narrow window view of my body, what I wanted to share. This is what I was okay with, what a step in the right direction was for me as an inspiring plus model and woman. You don’t get to see completely all of me, and that’s okay too. Often the personal leaps of faith are the most paramount. So, I say if you want to wear a bikini go for it! If you want to wear a cover-up or sexy sarong, hell chica that’s fine too!
I selected a one-piece from Catalina Swimwear from their plus-size selection. This wasn’t due to a fear of a two-piece, but in reality I was crunched for time and the original swimsuit I selected had not arrived yet. So, I did some last minute shopping for swimwear and accessories. I went home and was inspired by Tess Holiday and her modeling in the Sea by Monif C. campaign. The drawing board was more of a collage in my head, all working together in a great melting pot of hip and swim-sexy. It’s amazing how sometimes a change of plans works out in your favor.
Leslie helped me imbue a beach bombshell beauty by coaching me through the process of posing. Her vibrant, spunky, and sparkly personality made me believe in myself and the work we were doing. We tried different things; we tried everything, some worked out like magic. Her warmth and words of encouragement left me feeling bold and beautiful, like I could take on the world.
Dulce’s tenacity in getting the money shot is admirable. Her willingness to push boundaries and her own limits is a contributing factor into the success of this photo shoot. Her patience and reassurance let me breathe a sigh of relief that I was in good hands, that my curves were worth admiring, not something to be criticized.
My experience is filtered through a lens of the plus-size fashion editorial world, so I am aware that not everyone is going to glam-up and have professional lighting and photographers in their journey, but the process is nevertheless a personal one. I still had to listen to that little chubby girl inside me intently, focusing on her hurt, pain, and comforting her, reassuring her, and walking with her while holding her hand.
No, it’s not as easy as putting on a bikini. But, when that moment happens and you accept that your body is worthy of adorning in whatever fashion you desire, that’s the money shot, that’s the magic. That’s how you get a beach body.
XOXO Chica Rosita