Even though summer is over, bathing suits and opinions about who is allowed to wear them are far from extinct. Shantell Bennett was recently shamed by people on the Internet who told her things like she was ugly and should die. What was her crime that warranted such hate? Daring to wear a bikini while not looking like a model.
Body shaming women on the Internet is hardly a new phenomenon. Sadly, picking on people through the anonymity of a screen has become a national pastime. But that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to you. Bennett posted the pics of her wearing an adorable bright pink pineapple-print bikini to celebrate losing 50 kilograms (110 pounds). Since her gastric-band surgery five months ago, she’s been working hard to exercise and eat right, documenting her progress on her Facebook page, Beauty and the Band. But trolls tried to negate all her hard work by “bikini shaming” her and telling her she should stick to one-pieces.
Bennett was left with a choice so many women have struggled with: Give in to the haters and hide or fight back against the body shaming. She chose the latter. “It’s so wrong for people to body shame, whether they’re fat or skinny,” she told Daily Mail. “My photo’s been shared by a lot of women who messaged me and said it [the negative comment] upset them as well. It gives them a reason for why they’re so self-conscious, that people like this actually exist.”
But how does one fight back against bikini shaming, exactly?
Step 1: Wear the bikini
Or the little black dress or the tube top or whatever it is that makes you feel happy. Just put it on! Know what makes a bikini body? A bikini and a body. The end. Case in point: When TMZ bikini shamed Selena Gomez for wearing a pink two-piece, snarking,”There’s not a ton of material to her ensemble, but what is there is definitely working overtime to cover the 22-year-old’s assets. Things are getting thick down in Mexico.” She responded with (what else?) another bikini pic. She looked smoking hot and knew it, writing, “I love being happy with me yall. #theresmoretolove”
Step 2: Know your own strengths and weaknesses, not what people tell you they are
Don’t let someone else define who you are. Comedienne Chelsea Handler showed off this skill by rocking a two-piece on Instagram. “You know, I had a boyfriend who told me my boobs were too big and that I was fat,” she explained in the caption. “And then, I looked in the mirror.”
Step 3: Have a sense of humor
Serena Williams has drawn a lot of hate for her gorgeous, powerful, trophy-winning, super-athletic body from people who accuse her of being “manly.” Her retort? This drool-worthy bikini shot. Also hilarious was author J.K. Rowling’s response to a tweet criticizing Williams: “Yeah, my husband looks just like this in a dress. You’re an idiot,” beside a photo of Williams killing it in a red dress.
Step 4: Don’t let anyone censor you
One blogger found out the hard way that bikini shaming can come from the top as well as the bottom when a popular women’s magazine asked Brooke Birmingham to put a shirt on before they’d feature her on their site. Birmingham was having none of that nonsense, replying in a viral post, “[This picture] is by far one of my favorites because 172 pounds ago, I never imagined myself in a bikini. And yes, there is loose skin and imperfections, but it is my body. I only get one and I worked damn hard to get this one! Quite frankly, I find it beautiful!” The mag quickly apologized and even featured her, uncensored, in their print edition.
Step 5: Repeat step 1 over and over and over
… at least until you run out of cute bikinis or it gets too cold out.