Swimsuit season is upon us and, for many beachgoers, tension is running high. Beach season is a stressful time for women who might lack the confidence to slip on that skimpy two piece and frolic in the blinding sun. A recent SHAPE Magazine survey revealed that 82 percent of women feel pressure to "slim down" for summer. And bikini models do not help. The girls smiling from the Victoria's Secret ads and pouting in the pages of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition are known for their size-0 frames and toned physiques. Gabi Gregg, known online as Gabi Fresh, is ready to show women that bikinis are beautiful on all shapes and sizes.
When Gabi Gregg, a fashion blogger who writes about plus-size styles for women sizes 14 and up, posted photos of herself in a bikini, she received overwhelming applause and support. Gabi is proud to flaunt her size-18 frame, regardless of what the typical bikini model might look like.
In a post entitled "The XOJane and Gabi Fresh Fatkini Gallery: 31 Hot Sexy Fat Girls In Skimpy Swimwear" on XOJane, Gregg discussed a post she wrote on her official blog, Gabi Fresh, about plus-size bikinis.
"Last month, for the second year in a row, Iposted photos of myself in a bikini on my personal style blog," wrote Gregg. "As a size 18, my swimwear posts tend to gain way more traffic than my regular outfit posts. I attribute this to the fact that our culture is so obsessed with having a 'beach ready bod,' that the mere idea of someone my size in a swimsuit, let alone a bikini, is shocking to most."
"One of my bikini photos was picked up by Jezebel, and a lot of the comments were along the lines of 'Of course she has confidence! She's a toned, hourglass-shaped plus size woman! I could never wear a bikini! I'm so flabby!' My initial reaction was defensive: Yes, it's soooo easy being confident and showing off your body on the internet as a 220 pound woman of color in our society, amirite?" she wrote, referring to commentators whose confidence might not be sturdy enough to master a bikini.
Gabi Gregg's fatkini gallery is aimed at helping boost that confidence in others.
"Hopefully this gallery, which features lots of body diversity, proves that it's not only 'toned' fat girls who can feel confident hitting the beach in a two piece," wrote Gregg.
The 25-year-old's article quickly went viral as more and more plus-size women submitted their fatkini photos. Gregg even caught the eye of "The TODAY Show."
Last week, Gabi Gregg went on "The TODAY Show" to talk with Tamron Hall about her quest to instill confidence in plus-size women.
"I think it's about empowering women," she said. "So often the media all we see is thin women in bikinis. I want to challenge that and say they're not the only ones, not that i have anything against them. I think all women are beautiful. I think we should see all types of bodies in swimwear."
"What I wanted to accomplish with the gallery and what I was showing, it's not just me," she said. "You could see the rolls and see the flaws. And that's why I wanted to kind of bring it together and say, no, it's not just me wearing a bikini. That doesn't mean you're not practicing healthy habits."
Gregg has had critics complain that she is promoting obesity, but Gregg insists that she is not promoting anything but self-love.
"I think people should be aware of what they're putting in their bodies and be more active. The truth is be happy with your bodies we have right now. It is the goal to lose weight or are you happy where you are?"
Gregg's fatkini article on XOJane comes on the heels of Vogue's underage, anorexic model ban. In early-May, Vogue set a precedent with its move to eradicate too-young and too-skinny models from the pages of its publication.
In a statement released by Conde Nast International, 19 editors of Vogue around the world made a pact to promote the image of healthy models, reported Yahoo News.
The statement reads: "We will be ambassadors for the message of a healthy body image," and, "We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image."
The Vogue editors agreed to "not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder." They also said they will have casting directors check IDs at photo shoots, fashion shows and ad campaigns. Vogue will start following this new ban for its June issues.
"Vogue believes that good health is beautiful. Vogue Editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the well-being of their readers," said Conde Nast International Chairman Jonathan Newhouse in a statement.
Like Vogue, encouraging a healthy body image for women of all shapes and sizes is Gabi Gregg's goal.
"My measure for health is how good I feel," Gregg said. "The main thing is to judge how you feel and what you're putting into your body, how active you are and not based on a number on a scale."