Bathing Suit Season

God, I hate this time of year.

It’s time to start thinking about bathing suits, a time that is met with a collective sigh of dismay from most women (except all of those size twos who apparently don’t shop at Old Navy, leaving us size 10/12 [depends on the day] to go through racks and racks of their leftovers). I just received two of my favorite magazines in the mail and cracked them open only to find that it was that time of year again. Time to talk about bathing suits! Yay! And then, one of my favorite clothing lines sent me an email. Guess what time it is? Time to look at bathing suits online! Double yay!

Magazines now feature the ubiquitous article entitled something along the lines of “which suit is right for you?” (Answer: none) Are you big-busted? (Yes) Small-busted? (Never) Pear-shaped? (More like oboe-shaped) Short-legged? (Yes) Muffin-topped? (Yes) Double-chinned? (Yes) Fat of ankle? (Sometimes) Well, then we’ve got a suit for you!

My sister, who recently shed close to twenty pounds (yet I still talk to her), and who won’t have a problem donning a fashionable suit this summer, summed it up very nicely by asking: What if you have multiple problem areas? In other words, what if you are small busted, muffin-topped, double-chinned, and fat of ankle? What then?

I have a multitude of problem areas, or so my brain tells me. I think the reality of the situation is far better than I think yet I cling to this notion that one’s body must approximate perfection before one puts on a bathing suit. So, what to do? Short of dressing in a burka—and I have given it some thought—I have a couple of suggestions. The first: I’ve embraced the idea of the kaftan, which apparently, is making a comeback. (Cue chorus of angels, please.) I haven’t tried it out yet but I do have one on order from the same online catalog that had the headline screaming the approach of summer and bathing suit season, replete with “women” (and I use that term loosely—my nine-year-old son has more curves and he weighs a few ounces more than fifty pounds) cavorting in bikinis. Because, let’s face it, if you can wear a bikini and play volleyball without rupturing something, you are a “cavorter.”

The second: I have also purchased a pair of UV-protectant “swim tights” and a matching rash guard with a mock turtleneck. Both are made from a stretchy kind of material that can get wet while protecting you from head to toe from the sun’s rays. While both would suggest that I am avid swimmer and can be found frolicking in the surf, this is not the case. Can’t swim. Never frolick. But I want to be able to sit on the beach and watch everyone else swim and occasionally get my feet wet, so I need something that allows me to go into the water yet keeps me protected from the sun. I tried both pieces of swim apparel on and have to say, I don’t look terrible. Which, in my world of bathing suit self-loathing, is a rave.

Bottom line? I’m not going to go to the beach in jeans and a t-shirt, as I’ve done in summers past. I am determined to at least go to the beach in swimwear even if I don’t go into the chilly Atlantic, content that I’m not going to make a splash with my swimwear. And I’m going to be content knowing that the all-flattering suit does not exist and that almost every other woman on the beach has had the same experience that I’ve had over the years—this one’s too small, this one’s too big, the leg holes on this one were made for a stripper, the one with the skirt makes me look like a Mom from 1965, and on and on. But ladies, I confess: I do look at all of you on the beach, but I never judge. Your bodily imperfections look perfectly okay to me as they do to everyone else. Our imperfections are mostly in our own minds and we need to get out of our own way and enjoy ourselves. Even if we are wearing a kaftan, swim tights, and a mock turtleneck rash guard, all at the same time.



2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Well, Maggie is right that the weight and shape questions that come at this time of year are real and serious, but I got another issue: body hair! If I don’t make some very key choices about things like waxing and make them very well, anyone seeing my thighs would swear I was part gorilla! As if the plain old shaving your legs routine wasn’t hassle enough, now we are inundated with pictures of pretty gals with pretty figures in swimsuits who also once a fort-night smear flame retardant on their heads, eye area, and, perhaps, their adult playground, and then jump naked through a couple of flaming hula-hoops. They emerge sans fuzz, wild-hairs, and five o’clock shadow and hit the beach. I find this problem, which was always a serious one for me, the Slavic Girl, has only gotten tougher to solve in middle-age. Years ago, a friend asked me if I shaved my legs above the knee: “Unless I want to name each leg after a national forest I do.” Now, I’d have to name them after sort of run-down national forests!

  2. Colleen Settle
    Colleen Settle says:

    Curt and I went to the local beach last weekend for a quick walk. We were, of course, wearing jeans and sneakers (I haven’t owned a bathing suit in the last 10 years). On Monday, one of the parents at work mentioned that she had taken the family to the beach that weekend. I said, “Oh we were there for a little while. We were the ones in jeans and sneakers. Ha, ha!” She replied, “Oh, we did see you…my husband and I had such a good laugh over the two people dressed really inappropriately for a 90 degree day at the beach!” I don’t care what people say…I’m going to keep wearing my jeans…I’m just more comfortable that way.

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