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In this photo Elisangela Inez Soares rinses off at a shower in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  According to Soares "not everyone is built like a model."

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — 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.
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Barbara Monteiro, Miss Brazil Plus Size 2011

"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.

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