You might have met her in the eye-opening documentary about plus-size fashion and blogging, Plus Size Wars, but today blogger Bethany Rutter is reminding us why she belongs in the spotlight with her latest beach selfie. It's the perfect reminder that you need to do you — and love your body the way it is — now that we're officially at the beginning of "bathing suit season."
The photo of Rutter on the beach is almost deceptively simple: Another welcome addition to the pictures of women in fatkinis that are my lifeblood in these summer months. While showing off your plus-size body in public is still always brave on some level, upon closer look, Rutter's selfie is extra subversive.
The image, posted to her Instagram account, not only shows off her exquisite beach body. The photo also prominently features many things that break the "fashion rules." The writer's many tattoos, visible body hair, and her strapless bikini, just to name a few. And the caption? A simple statement that says everything: "I love myself." Not despite anything, not because of anything, no modifiers, no explanations. Just pure self love. It's something that was hard-won, which makes Rutter's show of confidence and acceptance even more impactful. "Even when I was less fat, and would shave my body hair, and fake tan myself before going to the beach, and didn't have tattoos, I never felt this comfortable," Rutter tells Bustle.
While those of us who dwell in the fat positive places of the Internet may be used to seeing and praising all types of bodies on the regular, there still exists still a very obvious mainstream beauty ideal — and an idea of what makes a "good fatty." While there are certain celebrities or bloggers who are more in the public eye, whom have been deemed "acceptable" by at least some folks, they are only a fraction of the tiniest percentage of all the different ways there are to have a plus size, non-normative body.
Whether it's being covered in tattoos, being unapologetically fat (uh, that cute "live fat, die yum" tattoo), being a femme with body hair, or wearing whatever bathing suit you want on your plus size body, the reception is hardly the same to Melissa McCarthy's red carpet appearances.
Rutter says that wearing a bikini in public is a test of how her self image has changed over time. "It's where I'm able to put all the self-love I've learned through its paces, and I'm grateful that every single time, it comes out stronger than ever. I spent too many years worrying and denying myself these experiences, and now it's time to just go for it." May we all be able to say the same, at some point, about our summers.