As a kid, I loved going to the pool, the ocean, really any swimmable body of water. I was an expert swimmer and an even better mermaid. Every summer, my older sisters and I would throw seaweed over our bodies, search for the best, most shimmery mussel shells, and dive into the very cold, salty, Atlantic Ocean to become the mermaids we knew we were.
Somewhere around age twelve or thirteen, these games stopped. I thought that whenever I bent over, my stomach looked weird. I started walking around in my bathing suite with my arms clutched tightly around my stomach. Instead of adorning my body with long strands of seaweed, I chose to lie perfectly still on my beach towel, moving only to adjust my bikini bottom.Once I became aware of my “bikini body”, and started reading articles with titles like, “The Best Swimsuit for Your Body Type” and “How to Get a Bangin’ Bikini Bod This Summer”, the fun pretty much stopped. How was I supposed to run into the water without jiggling in all the wrong places?
As the Community Engagement Intern at About-Face, the effect media has on young women and girls is very important to me and clearly, I am no stranger to these effects myself, either.
This summer, About-Face is encouraging women and girls to accept and respect their bodies through our new campaign, Give Everyone A Bikini Body 2: #Bikinis4All. How do you get a bikini body this summer? You put on a bikini! This campaign makes possible our successful programs, including our 4-session media and body image curriculum for girls in the San Francisco Bay Area and our online presence, including the Gallery of Offenders and Winners and this very blog, which engages teens girls where they are — on social media and the web.
Along with our Indiegogo campaign, we are putting you up to a social media dare, the #Bikinis4All Dare: We dare you to put on your swimsuit, grab a friend to videotape you, and head to your local pool, beach, or even sprinklers. Tell us your name, age, where you are, and remind us that having fun this summer is more important than what you look like! Jump into that water and have a great time. Then, post your video and share using the hashtag #Bikinis4All. We know you can do it!
Clare Schneider attends Mills College in Oakland, CA and is currently the Community Engagement Intern at About-Face.