(NEW YORK) — Mother of three Brittany Gibbons is not your typical swimsuit model, but she unintentionally became one in 2011 when she stripped down to a bathing suit in front of the world during a TED conference.
Gibbons, who says she’s in her late-20s and weighs more than 200 pounds, stripped down to her bathing suit to show, she said, that women like her should not be limited by their weight.
Since that talk, Gibbons, who writes at BrittanyHerself.com, has made it a point to, once a year, wear a bathing suit in public. This year, however, Gibbons upped her challenge by choosing to don a bikini.
“When I put on a bikini and it didn’t work, I was actually really emotional and I would sit and cry,” Gibbons told ABC News. “I learned a lot about myself.”
After trying on dozens of suits, Gibbons, also the founder of the Curvy Girl Guide online magazine, shared two options with her readers. The response was immediate.
“You are my new hero in every. single. way,” one reader wrote.
“Your confidence and self love is beautiful,” another wrote. “You go girl.”
Not all responses, however, were positive. “[Some were] questioning how on earth I found a husband or why I’m even allowed to have children around me,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons is continuing on her bikini mission and even finding some unexpected support in the fashion world.
H&M is one company branching out to the 12- to 14-size market, the average size of the American women. The Swedish retailer dove into swimsuit season this year with ads featuring plus-size model Jennie Runk in the general swimsuit section, not plus-size.
“I think we all need to channel our inner Brittany Gibbons and say, ‘Hey, I’m not a perfect size 2 but this is my body,” Lori Bergamotto, style editor of Lucky Magazine, said. “I want to go out. I want to have fun.’”
COpyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jenni Marsh, CNN
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News