Brazilian bikini lines are “expanding” their sizes with an assortment of bikinis for overweight women:
Tall and tan and young and … chunky? The Girl From Ipanema has put on a few pounds, and for many sunbathers on Brazil’s beaches the country’s iconic itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny bikini just doesn’t suffice anymore. A growing number of bikini manufacturers have woken up to Brazil’s thickening waistline and are reaching out to the ever-expanding ranks of heavy women with new plus-size lines.
That’s nothing short of a revolution in this most body-conscious of nations, where overweight ladies long had little choice but to hit the beach in comely ensembles of oversized T-shirts and biker shorts. “It used to be bikinis were only in tiny sizes that only skinny girls could fit into. But not everyone is built like a model,” said Elisangela Inez Soares as she sunbathed on Copacabana beach, her oiled-up curves packed into a black size 12 bikini. “Finally, it seems like people are beginning to realize that we’re not all Gisele,” said the 38-year-old mother of four, referring to willowy Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
Clothing designer Clarice Rebelatto said her own swimwear-hunting travails prompted her to found Lehona, an exclusively plus-size beachwear line. “Honestly, the problem went way beyond just bikinis. In Brazil, it used to be that if you were even a little chunky, finding any kind of clothes in the right size was a real problem,” said Rebelatto, herself a size 10. “And I thought, ‘I’m actually not even that big compared to a lot of women out there, so if I have problems, what are they doing?'”
Since its launch in 2010, the line has become a hit. While Brazilians’ increasing heft is a public policy preoccupation for the government, growth in the ranks of the overweight population has given them increased visibility in Brazilian society. Extra-wide bucket seats for the obese have been installed in Sao Paulo’s metro system, and on Sunday the city will host Brazil’s first ever Miss Plus Size beauty contest.
“It used to be that people would stare at me,” said Soares, the voluptuous sun-worshiper on Copacabana beach. “Now when I come to the beach I see women who are much bigger than me — and lots of them are wearing bikinis — so I’m not self conscious any more. “God makes some people thin but he made me like this,” she said, rubbing down the well-oiled bulge of her stomach and thighs. “So who am I to think that he was wrong?”
Hmmmmm…we’re not sure about this one. Perhaps they should be working on helping these women shed pounds for health reasons instead of glorifying obesity.