Shopping For Plus Size Swimwear in South Africa


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Shopping for plus size swimwear hasn't been much of a consideration for me because big bodies of water aren't a thing in my life. But because I'm thinking about swimwear for plus size women, I found myself thinking about being in water as well.

One of my swimming-related memories, that aren't that one time I almost got swept away by a river current as a child or my first time in a swimming pool when I visited KwaMashu when I was seven years old, just popped into my head as I am thinking about how scarce water has been in my life since I moved away from a place with rivers. I am 10 years old and we are on a school trip. For some reason, I am wearing my black and white school uniform, which isn't even the school I attend's uniform. We are going to one of Durban's beaches and I'm excited. At the beach, a girl named Boh lends me her floral tights and I swim in them and the under vest my mother -- all the way in Johannesburg -- taught to me to wear when I lived with her for the first time the previous year. I'm fat so I stretch the tights.the ride up my thighs and I remember feeling bad afterwards. But never while I was playing in the waves.

A few weeks ago, I went to Donna to try on their swimwear selection and it was an insightful exercise.  

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When I wormed my way into the Donna relaunch in August, I couldn't keep my eyes off of two things at the event: There was a button through dungaree dress that looked a bit like all my dreams and there was this. A black and white two-piece fatkini. At the time of the event, I was still under the delusion that maybe, somehow, I would end up on a beach for my 25th Birthday, which is in a few weeks. The fatkini (and the dress, tbh) has not left my mind since.

When Siyabonga shared her try-on session at a Donna store, an indicator that swimwear was in store finally, my daydreams were reignited. She looked so good in the fatkini of our dreams too. The moment I got a chance, I went into my local Donna ready to get my summer body into some fatkinis and cute plus size swimwear. It wasn't to be. 

For one, the anchor one piece and black and white swimsuit above didn't anywhere near my body. They were in size 20s, and the last sizes in the store. There were swim dresses aplenty in the shop, but I hadn't come for them so I didn't touch them.

While I'd gone in feeling confident and comfortable in summer body, by the time I had out on the first one piece (the black one at the bottom,) I started feeling uncomfortable. All the costumes I brought with me into the fitting room all had a sticker talking about "improved support" but I didn't feel it in either of the ones that fit me. 

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I don't know what numbers are used. I don't know if I'm too tall, my stomach too big or my boobs too droopy but I didn't quite feel contained in these swimming costumes. The ones I'm wearing are both 26s -- for the most part, I think Donna's sizing is close to reality. So, maybe that's my swimwear size but I didn't see myself out on a beach or at a pool in either swimming costume. I was uncomfortable. My boobs weren't quite contained. Besides, what I truly want is the two-piece fatkini not a costume I have to make-do with.

Being in that fitting room taught me something about fat acceptance and the so-called summer body: for me, comfort will always be a driver. I walked in, looking forward to finding a cute fatkini (I cannot afford) to put on my body and act silly for a few minutes and go home. Regardless of how uncomfortable the swimwear I tried on, or how frustrated the racks made me feel, however, I didn't once think of my body as the problem. Or as unworthy of a swimming costume that wouldn't make my breasts feel meh. Manufacturers and retailers are the ones that need to do better. The end.

I saw a one-piece with pink birds (not flamingos) at City Chic, I saw a plain black -- like the one above -- costume at Ackerman's for R120. Will definitely be trying a few more costumes on. If I ever go into Forever 21 again, I will be sure to look there.

I really enjoyed the cream, sort of bohemian cover up. I would wear it away from the beach. It's on my list of things to look for when the summer sales hit.

That's the last Fat Girl Shopping of the year done! Where do you buy your plus size swimwear?