Swim suit shopping. Oh no. It’s that time of year. That time when you realize you didn’t quite keep up with your New Year’s resolution and, oh crap! It’s hot outside. It’s officially swimsuit-shopping season. And I am swimsuit-shopping challenged. Bum, bum BUUUUUMMMM!
A few months ago, I was shopping at Target for random junk (as usual), and there they were in a small, unassuming display in the corner: Fluorescent bras and panties that you probably wouldn’t even wear in front of your husband in the privacy of your home (at least not with the lights on), and yet somehow you’d be okay to wear them in front of the general public at any beach, pool or splash pad. I passed them by, chuckling, “Hahaha, it’s still winter; I have WEEKS before I have to worry about that.” I walked by dreaming of how fit I would be by the time summer rolled around, and of course stopped to get a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks. Nonfat.
Flash forward to a more present time; Target again. Random junk, again. Swimsuits, again, although, they’ve multiplied. They now take up an entire section at Target, like, you couldn’t avoid them if you wanted to. Double crap! Now, it’s really too late. I’m not saying I always buy my swimsuit at Target, but seeing the display is always the little reminder that it’s time. It seems every year since forever I’ve tried on about 200 swimsuits at Target. Hopeful and eager, I grab any suit with pretty colors and wide banded bottoms. Hours later, I hang them right back up (incorrectly), and leave exhausted, usually a little sweaty, and empty-handed.
Maybe I just need one of those suits with the little skirts and the giant palm-tree-leaves print. Slap a white swim cap on me, and…I’m my great-grandmother. In the 1930s. I’m not there yet, am I? I’m certainly not going to wear one of those strappy, dental floss monstrosities that all the hip kids are wearing; I’d feel like a slab of spiral ham! And what a weird tan line! I’m a grown-ass woman. A mother. I need a suit that is flattering and functional and age-appropriate. Not too young; not too old. Not too crazy.
I tried several other stores and several different types of suits. I attempted a trendy, high-waisted two-piece. I felt like I was wearing a big diaper, and it kind of made me look bigger, actually. I tried “boy shorts,” but, last time I checked, my husband’s butt cheeks didn’t hang out of his shorts. Not cute. I tried some one-pieces. Gaping at armpits up top, wedgie on bottom. See, my top half is much smaller than my bottom half; now I know what a triangle feels like shopping for swimsuits. I tried buying stuff online from Victoria’s Secret. Bahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! That was funny. Return those. Someone might mistake me for Giselle and cause a scene.
You know, I do not hate how I look; I like how I look. I’m proud of and thankful for what my body has accomplished. I know it is not “perfect;” if it were, I’d be wearing swimsuits 24-7. I’d start a whole new genre of Mom—swimsuit Mom: always wears swimsuits even when not appropriate. It’s hard to say why I put so much emphasis and stress so much about swimsuits. I know I am supposed to feel confident no matter what (according to the new swimsuit marketing), but, for some reason, there’s always that fear of being exposed.
But, maybe, it’s okay to feel a bit exposed and unsure when selecting a swimsuit. We, as human beings, are uncomfortable being exposed. We blush. We feel frailer without the protection of clothing, so we cover up; it’s a survival instinct.
Swimsuits defy that instinct; your body is on display, stripped of its finery and raiment; It’s humbling. I always like to think of myself as a work in progress, always striving to be better, but buying a swimsuit puts a fork in my progress right then and there, and there’s just no wiggle room for explanation. Maybe, that’s what makes shopping for one so difficult.
Of course, I could just be making this all up…to avoid shopping. But the point is, regardless of what marketing says you should wear and how you should feel wearing it, it boils down to your comfort level. Be comfortable. Focus on the important part of the day: enjoying your children, family and friends. If you want to wear active wear at the pool, go for it. If you want to wear a string bikini thong, go for it, just don’t get kicked out of the pool.
At least now we do have some better options, and are seeing more normal bodies in swimsuit marketing, but my point is, don’t feel like you’re the only one who still feels self-conscious shopping for swimsuits, or the only one who still has difficulty finding a good fit. That’s just the way it is. I’m sure even Giselle has a tough time. I mean if everyone were truly 100% confident and shameless in their bodies, we’d all just be gallivanting around in thongs or even in the nude, right?
As for me, I’m still on the prowl for a new suit…Until I find one, I’ll be at the splash pad, the pool, and the beach no doubt, enjoying the sunshine with my daughter, wearing whatever I damn well please (so long as it’s in dress code).