We all know that taking a trip to the beach isn't always easy — what should just be a fun summer pastime can come with a whole host of body image issues (thank you, patriarchy). For those who dress outside of binary or traditional standards and are already scrutinized daily by society for standing out, that unease can come to a head during beach season. There don't tend to be a lot of swimsuit options between highly gendered bikinis and board shorts — but YouTuber Ari Fitz is out to change that.
In a video titled "Beach, Please" for Great Big Story, Fitz discusses non-normative beach wear and her fashion project Tomboyish, which aims to tackle the ways we see and experience beauty, femininity, and masculinity. The beach is "a very gendered space — like, the moment you put your toes in the sand...you feel it," Fitz says in the video.
"You know that you have to kind of pick one side of the spectrum: either you're more on the masculine side or you're more on the feminine side," she continues. "What does that do for everyone that doesn't exist on one clear side or the other?"
You can watch below.
Speaking especially to queer, gender-non-conforming, androgynous, and "tomboyish" folks, the video is the beginnings of a look book for anyone who loves the sun and sand, but who doesn't follow a hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine aesthetic.
For Fitz, the project has personal roots. She discusses her experience as a queer woman of color, and how getting dressed in the morning has become like putting on her "suit of armor" for the day.
"There are so many things in the world that want to silence us, silence me, minimize me and minimize my experience," she says. "What we choose to wear signifies that we are here, we are present, and we are not going to be silenced, we're not going anywhere."
A resilience like that definitely feels beach ready to us.