No Room for 'Fat Talk' in a One-Piece

Lately I’ve been loving the one-piece swimsuit trend that is coming back in style. Although one-pieces never really go out of style, in years past it has been harder to find a cute yet conservative swimsuit. Considering last year’s “bare it all” trend, I am happy to see young women donning fashionable one-pieces. When I posed the idea to do a style post featuring my favorite one-pieces for spring and summer, my husband asked if I would be modeling one. “Ha! no,” I immediately replied. While my muscular thighs may have been a good look in the 1950s, they are not exactly the “hot dog legs” we see on runways, in magazines, and on TV nowadays. My husband, reading my thoughts and aware of my Lenten promise, gave me a knowing look. 


This year for Lent, I gave up negative body talk (and attempted to give up negative body thoughts). In general, I mostly refrain from contributing to public body self-disparagement, also known as “fat talk,” and I eat and exercise without the intention of achieving some elusive body type. Yet the physical insecurities I have struggled with throughout my life inevitably creep back. While I usually feel confident in my athletic build—despite stretch marks and cellulite—I did not realize the pervasive nature of self-critcal body talk or thoughts until I tried to get rid of them completely during Lent. On far too many occasions, I have come home from my workout class on Tuesday feeling strong and secure, only to be complaining about the way my legs look on Wednesday.

Knowing my vulnerabilities and this Lenten promise, my husband urged me to pose for this post precisely for the reason I did not want to—because I do not look like a typical model (or even a typical “fashion blogger” for that matter). While I am posting these photos with a lump in my throat, I know my husband is right. I want my sister Grace—and all girls—to see body types other than the stick-thin look that the media deems as the only worthy body type. I want Grace to see what women look like without Photoshop; women who are still healthy and fit, yet whose appearance may not fit into the mold of a “perfect body.” 

By giving up body shaming, I not only helped change my psyche, but my silence (or explicit positivity) detracted from the fat talk of women around me. “When women refer to themselves as fat, other women around them are more likely to chime in with their own self-deprecation,” a recent Verily article cites. Think of the Mean Girls scene, “My pores are huge, my nail beds suck….” Lindsay Lohan’s character, new to the American culture, quickly picks up on the need for self-deprecation in order to fit in: “I have bad breath in the morning?” While this scene pokes fun at our cultural truism, it points out girls’ and women’s inherent need to contribute to negative body talk.

So why are women of all ages and body types so programmed to contribute to fat talk? Women not only feel like they have to say something negative, but it almost feels taboo to acknowledge positive qualities about oneself. Mean Girls again hits on this fact when queen bee Regina George says to Lindsay Lohan, “So you agree, you think you’re really pretty,” after Lohan’s character simply says “Thank you” to being called pretty. I’m all for humility, but this is decidedly different. Part of our problem may be that as females we do not know how to receive compliments, especially regarding our physical qualities. We often feel the need to brush off compliments and offer self-hate instead, opening the conversation to fat talk.

Another study found that women who engage in fat talk have higher levels of body dissatisfaction, shame, and eating-disorder behavior. Fat talk is not inspiring women to be healthy, but rather doing the opposite. Our culture complains—and rightfully so—about the media’s obsession with Photoshopped and unrealistic women, but women of all ages and body types casually engage in fat talk. We might not be able to change what we see in the media, but do we even realize the power of what is coming out of our own mouths? Imagine what your home, school, workplace, or team would like if fat talk stopped altogether. We do have the power to remain silent; better still, we have the power to say good, honest words to ourselves and others about our bodies.

To help steer our youngest sister, Grace, away from fat talk, my 19- and 20-year-old sisters and I have attempted to ban words like “fat” and “skinny” from our vernacular. We emphasize adjectives such as “fit” or “healthy” rather than glorify thin sizes or lament bigger builds. While we may not be able to control what Grace is exposed to in the media, we can control how we talk about ourselves and each other. One woman’s self-critique can spark an avalanche of self-disparagement, but another woman’s choice to love herself—despite her imperfections—can inspire a radiance of self-worth unbound by body image.

one-piece style tips

Part of loving your body is knowing how to dress it! Check out my one-piece favorites (all under $100) for your body type:

  • Fuller Stomach: A one piece with ruching across the middle helps disguise the tummy. 

  • Small Chest: A ruffle or contrasting fabric across the chest "confuses the eye," as my mom would say, and helps your chest appear more proportional.

  • Fuller Bottom Half: Try a one piece with a fun pattern that keeps the eye drawn upward.

  • Fuller Bust: A halter neckline helps balance the bust with the rest of the body, or try a suit like that supports without sacrificing style

With a little grace,


40 Days Without Makeup: How I Discovered the Best Foundation

In case it snuck up on you like it snuck up on me—Lent starts tomorrow (what?!). Especially in the years in which the Lenten season comes early, it can be tempting to choose something familiar to give up in the mad rush before Ash Wednesday. If you, like me, are still unsure what to commit to this year, I encourage you to spend time in prayer about this decision (even if it means starting a few days late). While participating in Lent is a feat in itself, I found that what we commit to can have a lasting impact. Two years ago, as a senior in college, I wrote the following Lenten reflection for my cousins’ blog, Princess Prayer, now Castle. Although reading this piece may be the second time around for some of you, I hope my insight serves as solidarity and inspiration for the question we ponder this time of year,“What should I give up for Lent?” As we pray over our Lenten commitments, may we recognize where we most need God’s grace in our lives and be willing to receive it there.

. . . 

One of the unfortunate aspects of going to a school on the quarter system is having an extra set of finals, as we have three terms per year, rather than two. Finals in college mean several things: late nights, coffee, anxiety, stress…and for me, a glowing breakout of blemishes and pimples. Thank you, stress! While a little acne is certainly nothing new to me, my winter finals—and the inevitable breakout they caused—last month posed a new challenge: no foundation or concealer to cover them up! I had given up makeup for Lent. 

I had acquired the perfect regimen to conceal my usual blemishes (Make Up Forever concealer + a foundation brush, thank you very much!), and of course I loved to add eyeliner or mascara, and lipstick for special occasions (I am totally digging the red lip trend). You might even call me a “beauty junkie”—I love reading about the latest and greatest beauty products and collecting my slew of samples from Sephora. 

But why makeup? Wouldn’t giving up desserts or Facebook for Lent do the job? Well, certainly for me, going without sweets or social media would also require the sacrifice and discipline that Lent calls us to. But when I read about the idea to give up straightening or curling your hair, I knew exactly what God was calling me to sacrifice this Lent. Although I play collegiate field hockey, I also indulge my inner girly-girl: I love to dress up and get all glam. For this reason, I knew going 40 days without makeup would be the perfect Lenten challenge, but there was more. I wanted my Lenten sacrifice to be something that helped me grow in faith and virtue, not solely a sacrifice that strengthened my discipline. 

Especially as women, we expect so much of ourselves. We hold ourselves to a seemingly impossible standard of working out, acing our classes, landing the perfect job, baking a cake for our best friend, and a million other things, all while looking “flawless.” Yet one of the most dangerous things we can do to our spiritual lives is to look like we have it all together. We are human. We are broken. We are sinful. Every one of us. And covering up that frailty, that humanness, allows us to say to Jesus, “I’ve got it, I don’t need you.” Personally, the sins I struggle with most are “sins of the heart,” as my dear friend calls them. Independence from God, righteousness, judgement, jealousy, pride… The sins that we commit on the inside while looking like everything is perfect on the outside. It is easy to “put on a face” (figuratively and literally), and present myself to the world as if everything is okay. Regardless of the brokenness I’m feeling or the sins I’m committing, I can wipe on a smile and fool my friends, family, and certainly strangers. But Jesus is never fooled. Jesus sees right through our foundation and concealer, past our Crest-whitened smiles into the true, broken humans that we are. Yet under society’s pressure to hide our vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and sins, we continue to do so.

Father Manny Dorantes, a priest here at Northwestern, once said that pride—appearing and believing we have it all together—is one of the worst sins we can commit, “For when we are proud, we don’t feel that we need to be saved, and when we don’t need to be saved, we don’t need a savior, and when we don’t need a savior, we don’t need Jesus.” Although the world tells us to be strong, confident, and proud, all relationships require vulnerability in order to form a close connection. Even as little kids we understood this; we told our deepest secrets to only our best friend, “I still watch Barney…don’t tell!” As young adults we continue to do this, as our closest relationships are often those with whom we can share our personal and emotional vulnerabilities. In the same way, accepting Jesus into our lives requires vulnerability on our part. It requires us to look at ourselves and say, “Jesus, I am broken, sinful, and far from perfect.” Jesus died on the cross for our sins, not for the perfect image of ourselves we create. We are made perfect through Jesus’s death and resurrection, as we will commemorate on Good Friday. In order to enter into a relationship with Him, we must first recognize our need for His saving grace. We must feel the urgency of the word, “Hosanna,” which means “Savior, now.”   

For me, it is embarrassingly easy to let go of the urgency and meaning of Hosanna, despite the countless times I have sang it. I build myself up to believe that I don’t need a savior at all, or any help for that matter. Regardless of how I really feel, I like to look like I have it all together, to cover up my vulnerabilities, to dress the part, whatever the role. When I cover up these sins and weaknesses, I convince myself I can do it all on my own. I turn my back to Jesus, and say, “I’ve got this, I don’t need you.” Going au-naturel this Lenten season has been a daily reminder that I don’t have it all together. My “physical vulnerability,” if you will, has allowed me to devote less time to independence and pride, and rely on the fulfillment that Jesus’s healing brings. While makeup is certainly not bad, it is one of the many paths to creating the dangerous image that we have it all together. So, though my spring quarter finals may bring their usual breakout, the foundation I rely on to cover up my blemishes should not be found in a bottle. The foundation that has already covered all of our blemishes was found crucified on the cross.

. . . 

Check out more inspiration to have your #BestLentEver or check out what Pope Francis suggests you give up this year.

With a little grace,