Bikini bodies changing the shape of fashion | Style | Life & Style



For years plus-size swimwear focused on covering up – swimsuits with slimming panels and voluminous kaftans were often all that was on offer.

However attitudes have changed, partly thanks to the rise of plus-size models and fashion bloggers who use social media to spread messages of body confidence and acceptance.

Here, two women tell us why they are on a mission to inspire women to love their bodies whatever size they are.

Danielle Vanier: Why should I hide away in kaftans?

I was really pleased to hear that sales of plus-size bikinis have shot up. It’s great that women of all sizes feel confident enough to show off their figures.

When I was growing up there was only one type of beautiful – the slim, fair-skinned, able-bodied women plastered all over magazines and TV shows.

But in the past few years I’ve seen a huge shift in people’s attitudes. Now big-name brands are using women of all shapes and sizes in advertising campaigns.

As a plus-size woman it’s really encouraging and I hope the trend continues until everyone can see themselves reflected in the media.

Louise O’Reilly and Danielle VanierEVANS/NC

Louise O’Reilly (left) and Danielle Vanier

I like to think that bloggers like myself have played a part in helping bigger women feel more confident.

I’ve been plus-size since I was a teenager and I was often teased at school for being fat.

At that time, there were very few role models for bigger women like me. But as I grew older, my confidence increased and I started posting photos of myself online.

To my surprise, people loved seeing what I was wearing. Now I have nearly 100,000 followers and blogging is my full-time job.

I openly describe myself as fat. I don’t think it’s a word that should have negative connotations, after all there’s no shame in describing yourself as tall or brunette.

Some people think fat women should hide away and be depressed about their bodies but I do the opposite.

I love to show off my size-22 curves in figure-hugging outfits and I don’t feel shy about wearing swimming costumes or bikinis. Why should I have to hide away in huge kaftans and cover-ups? I have just as much right to wear a bikini as anyone else.

Bikini in sandGETTY

Sales of plus-size bikinis have increased dramatically in the past few years

I love to show off my size-22 curves in figure-hugging outfits and I don’t feel shy about wearing swimming costumes or bikinis

Danielle Vanier

I hope people reading my blog are inspired to feel confident about their figures too.

There are some people who make negative comments online but I just brush them off. Rather than letting their insults hurt me, I feel sorry for the people who make them.

They must be pretty unhappy in their own lives to spend their time insulting strangers on the internet.

I think we’ll see more and more women enjoying the sunshine and wearing whatever they like.

Personally I think everybody is “beach body ready” – whether they’re a size 8 or a size 18.

Danielle blogs at

Louise O’Reilly: My body is perfect just the way it is

Last year I landed a major advertising campaign with plus-size fashion brand Evans ( I’m a size 18 and I couldn’t have been more proud to show off my curves in the brand’s stylish summer bikinis.

I felt fantastic and it was a good reminder of how my confidence has grown since I was a teenager.

Ever since I was younger, I’ve always been bigger – I was a size 22 at one point. This was long before social media so I didn’t have any curvy women role models whom I could look to for inspiration. I hated shopping because I could never find anything that was flattering or fitted me properly. I wished I could wear the things my friends picked off the rails.

In my late teens I lost a few stone after discovering I had a wheat and dairy allergy. Then, when I turned 20, I was signed by a plus-size modelling agency.

Although there isn’t much of a market for plus-size models in Ireland where I grew up, there is a big demand internationally.

Becoming a model was a huge boost to my confidence and for the first time I was surrounded by women of all different shapes and sizes. Some were bigger than me and some were smaller but all were beautiful in their own way. It made me realise that my body is perfect just the way it is. Thankfully, it seems the world is now waking up to the idea that all women deserve to feel beautiful, no matter what size they are.

In the past few years, lots of celebrities have opened up about their bodies and accepting themselves the way they are.

And more and more high-street shops are selling swimwear for women of different sizes.

I think it’s fantastic that sales of bigger bikinis have gone up and I hope the trend continues.

We can get too hung up on what size clothes we fit into. As long as we feel good about ourselves, that’s all that matters.

Louise blogs at


Rivkie Baum says the fashion rule book has been ripped up

Comment by Rivkie Baum

The fashion rule book has been ripped up and it’s easy to see why fuller-figured women are feeling fabulous.

The UK plus-size market is estimated to be worth around £5billion and over the past eight years has seen tremendous growth. In fact, one in every five pounds spent on womenswear last year was on plus-size fashion.

Shopping choices for size-18 and up are better than ever before. From retailers such as Simply Be, River Island and Asos Curve to independent and designer brands at Navabi, increased competition has resulted in better fits, fabrics and more fashionable silhouettes.

Undoubtedly the increased visibility of bigger women on social media and in film and television has helped to reshape the fashion industry’s opinion on style for plus-size women.

As women grow in confidence through body positive messages, traditional beauty ideals have been replaced by ideas that empower women through fashion rather than constraining them.

• Rivkie Baum is a fashion stylist at the Daily Express.


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