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.