One of my earliest memories of going on holiday was visiting my extended family in Ghana around the age of 6. I remember the sweltering humidity, the rich aromas of spices and well-marinated meat in the air...and the smell of gently boiled child flesh as I spent the entire holiday stewing in my own sweat underneath a cardigan and jogging bottoms.

I was a chubby child and from a young age I was always made to feel embarrassed or ashamed of my body.

As I grew older I thought that going away and being on holiday would provide a temporary respite from the giggles, stares, and judgement I received from the people at home; alas, the prospect of going on holiday brought a whole new set of problems, most noticeably, what on earth does one wear on holiday when you are a size fat?

Writer Stephanie Yeboah relaxes by a pool in a blue-and-white patterned swimsuit and blue-lens sunglasses. There are palm-like trees in the background and she is sitting on a wooden deck with her feet dangling in the water
Stephanie Yeboah slays in the summer sun © Stephanie Yeboah

Throughout my teens, I actively tried to avoid going on holiday as the thought of having to show my *gasp* bingo wings and *omg* stretchmarks made me want to recoil in horror. I would associate travel with shame, and when I had to be part of family holidays, I would always bring out my best three-quarter-length cardigans, cargo shorts and, if I felt especially brave, an oversized smock with a high empire line in a bid to make me look smaller.

It wasn’t until I discovered the fat acceptance movement and started my own self-love journey that I realised that being on a beach didn't have to be traumatic. American plus-size style influencer Gabi Gregg absolutely changed the game when she made the ‘fatkini’ popular; this sparked a huge trend in plus size swimwear, lingerie and general outerwear and I couldn’t be happier about it.

No longer would I have to put myself on crash diets and take laxatives in order to attain the perfect bikini body: the beach was going to get whatever body I gave it! When you scrimp and save your coins in order to treat yourself to a beautiful beach holiday, you want to enjoy and savour every moment of the trip. There should be no time in your summer schedule for shame!

During my self-love journey, I started to invest in swimsuits, tankinis and beach dresses, and, eventually, bikinis. And not JUST the ‘mum-pants-covering-the-whole-belly bikinis either; the Sports Illustrated, triangle-shaped, itsy-bitsy bikinis. Why? Because I finally realised I deserved them.

I was confident. I wanted my body to be on show. I wanted to feel cool. I didn’t want to stay holed up in a hotel room sweating in my long-johns while my friends sat by the pool. Thanks to fat acceptance and the body positivity trend, plus size people now have more access than ever before to trend-led fashion. From tea dresses to bikinis, we’ve got you covered.

Stephanie Yeboah in a white sun dress with sheer vertical panels and black flower embroidery. She is wearing white-framed sunglasses and standing on a bridge in front of a small stream and greenery
Stephanie Yeboah looking cool and current in a sun dress © Stephanie Yeboah

Day wear: sun dresses

Easing you in with a summer staple: the sun dress. Sundresses are normally light, loose, sleeveless dresses that keep you cool when you’re out and about in the heat. They are among some of my favourite pieces to wear because they are versatile, come in an array of beautiful prints and fabrics, and are easy to dress from day to night.  

If you’re a fan of breezy, yet slightly structured looks, then this River Island Plus Short Sleeve Kimono Dress complete with embroidered cut out details is right up your street. The chic black fabric looks amazing on sun-kissed skin, and can be worn with a wide brimmed beach hat and flatform espadrilles by day, and a pair of strappy heels with statement accessories by night.

The ASOS Curve sleeveless maxi dress is a smart summer pick, due in part to the wrap design and tie detail, creating a lovely silhouette. The fabric is light and the sleeveless round neck is just right for someone who may be a bit hesitant to wear a strapless or spaghetti strap top, but still want the benefits of not having a full sleeve.

Trapeze dresses are my all time favourite sundress style as they are incredibly cooling in the heat. It’s almost like you’re wearing a pillowcase, and you don’t have fabric clinging to your sweaty skin throughout the day. If you’re opting for somewhere very hot and humid, make sure at least one trapeze-cut dress makes it into your suitcase.

Stephanie Yeboah posing in front of plants in a black-and-white jumpsuit with a yellow bumbag and matching sandals
Teaching a lesson in jumpsuit chic in the sunshine © Stephanie Yeboah

Eveningwear: Jumpsuits! Playsuits!

One of the good things about taking dresses on holiday is that they can also be styled as chic evening wear too (weather depending). But if you’re planning a glam night on the town, playsuits and jumpsuits are your best bet. Jumpsuits have an air of smart-casual sophistication about them that make them perfect for staying comfortable while enjoying the nightlife in your destination of choice.

This classic Zadie paisley satin jumpsuit from Anthropologie can be paired with flat mules and a bamboo handbag for effortless evening glam, and with flatter sleeves and tapered leg, you can comfortably dance the night away yet still look stylish. It even has pockets!

You can also be the belle of the ball in a standout multi-print or block-coloured playsuit teamed with strappy heels. ASOS Curve have a diverse offering of playsuits, such as this ecru denim dream, their fierce corduroy playsuit, and this stunning, floaty number in a smudged animal print.

Stephanie Yeboah in a sun-drenched pool in a lime green snakeskin-print bikini. Stepahnie is smiling at the camera with her arms above her head and there is a blue building in the background
Keeping cool in the pool without sacrificing style © Stephanie Yeboah


I've found that swimwear is definitely one of the final hurdles to achieving complete self-love and body positivity. Once I was able to go out in public wearing swimwear and not feel self-conscious, I knew I’d made it. The wonderful thing about swimwear at the moment is that there is so much variety. If you’re a bikini kinda gal, go for it! If you’re into all-in-one swimsuits, there’s a huge choice to pick from too.

I’m a fan of a ruched swimsuit, and Robyn Lawley at Navabi do some of the best, complete with awesome graphic prints. The shoulder straps are adjustable, and the suit is lined with power mesh to offer comfort.

Curvy Kate are some of the best when it comes to plus size swimwear, as they create an array of different pieces to suit all bodies and body hangups. The Wrapsody bandeau swimsuit is a multi-functional swimsuit that can be worn up to six different ways and gives an elegant, chic look. Essentially, you can take this swimsuit on holiday with you and have six different styles in one; it's an absolute gift to fans of carry-on luggage.

Stephanie Yeboah looking stunning by the pool in a yellow triangle bikini. Stephanie has one arm above her head and the other by her waist, posing in front of a jewel-blue pool and green palm trees
Compete with the sunshine in a gorgeous yellow bikini © Stephanie Yeboah

Luxury lingerie brand Elomi also have a variety of on-trend swimsuits available, such as their Live Limitless collection, which features jewel toned pieces comprising of mid-rise briefs, lacy staples with crochet insets and strappy details, flattering florals, and plunge bras.

My favourite swimwear comes from ASOS though: they have a host of mix and match pieces that can be bought together or separately, and actually offer us fat babes low-rise bikinis, such as the popular leopard print triangle bikini and ruffle tie bikini. Their reasonable prices mean you can bring a selection of styles away with you, too.

Wolf & Whistle offer a perfect medium of having funky, bright prints combined with high-rise briefs and DD+ supportive bikini tops. The eco stripe bikini set is one of my favourites. If you’re looking for something a bit bolder, head over to Figleaves and snap up some in-your-face prints and designs. I’m a fan of their St Lucia bikini, but it’s definitely one for the honeymoon!

Stephanie Yeboah fanning herself while exploring a cultural site. Stephanie is wearing a floral-print top and holding a multi-coloured fan in front of statues and thatch-roofed buildings
Staying, and looking, cool while exploring new cultures © Stephanie Yeboah

So you’ve packed your suitcase, you’ve got your swimsuits and you’re feeling confident. What then? Well, depending on where you’re travelling to, it’s important to do a bit of research and find out more about the culture of the country you're visiting. Brands like Lonely Planet tell it like is and your favourite bloggers and writers are a good bet for honest opinions. There are some places around the world where it's tough to find plus size clothing and purchasing all your holiday clothes in advance is essential.

There are also places around the world where you’ll find that being plus size is a bit of an anomaly, and therefore you may be subjected to some stares from curious locals. Although this can be disconcerting (trust me, I've been there!), it’s important not to let this distract you from enjoying yourself.

Remember that you have the right to explore new destinations and cultures the same as anyone else: you've worked really hard, saved up the cash to see the world on your terms, and you owe it to yourself to enjoy the experience like any other respectful traveller without apologising for being there. Travel is all about experiencing life from another point of view and that works both ways for visitors and locals. Pack your suitcase, top up your sunscreen and live your best unapologetic life! 

You might also enjoy: 
Meet Jessica Nabongo, the first black woman to visit every country in the world
My experience travelling as a black woman
Caroline O'Donoghue's life after lockdown: 'I dream of a holiday away with my girlfriends'

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