The Question of Bathing Suits

Monday, July 25, 2016

I have yet to meet a woman who even REMOTELY likes shopping for a new swimsuit.

It is THE thing that is worse than shopping for jeans. Which is also terrible.

Swimsuit shopping is a Great Sucker of Time. It is a Self-Esteem Sabotage Activity. It is frought with Memories of Teen Angst. It can be downright Panic Inducing. It almost always requires a bag of chips and/or glass of wine to wallow in afterwards.

I'm still not really sure I want to talk about this, but I always find I feel better when I talk about things and find out that everyone else is thinking basically the same thing, so here goes.

This is not going to be a guide to finding the right suit for your shape. 

This is not going to be a discussion of this year's fashions and whether your suit is more suitable for Coachella, public pool swimming or hanging out on a dock with your Dad. 

Mostly this is a reality check. 

Let me give you some background:

I have been an avid fitness devotee since I was about 27 years old, when I was a recovering dot-com maniac and ended up with pneumonia because I literally had not slept for about a year. I hit a turning point because I wanted to be healthy. Prior to that I was always the "artsy" one in the family, and next to my extremely athletic siblings, well let's just say I was the squishy one. Until I wasn't anymore. I did find my inner athlete eventually, and I became healthy, lean and strong.

But if you have ever at any point in your life felt squishy, I'm afraid it's always going to be a little hard to take those goggles off.

There have been a few years where I thought I looked OK in a bathing suit. But there was always a cover-up nearby. A cute beach towel. Distracting sunglasses. An SPF surf shirt. I was certainly never BOUNDING down a beach Pamela-Anderson-styles diving in or frolicking about without a care. But I was OK.

Then a couple of years ago, I got sick. Like, really sick. Pneumonia-brought-on-by-a-broken-heart-and-a-damp-trip-to-England kind of sick. You know? I think they used to call it Consumption.

I lost 20 pounds in two months, 10 of them in just one week. All of a sudden, for the first time ever, I was SKINNY. Like gaunt & bony kind of skinny. My fashiony friends said "Lo, you look AMAZING." My sister and my best friend said, "Lo, you look TERRIBLE. Eat a sandwich. Eat two."

But I ignored them and bought new pants. And by the time summer rolled around that year, I had the Bad Goggles on. And those goggles told me that I looked GREAT in a bathing suit because I was skinny. I still wasn't pulling any Pamela Anderson moves, but I did break out a bikini that I never had the guts to wear before. And it was fun. 

Of course, that doesn't last. When you're well again, things sort themselves out, so I stabilized to what is more normal for me. Which is fine. More than fine. But the goggles get a little foggy and a little more self-judgy and sometimes I feel way less than OK. We can be so terrible to ourselves. I would never say to a friend the kinds of things I say to myself.

I think, as I get a little older and a little wiser, that I am *starting* to see that no one else is really scrutinizing & judging you the way you do yourself. People don't actually care that much or think that much about it. They just love you for who you are, and what you bring to the world, and how you fill up an important place in their life. Which 99.97% of the time has nothing to do with how you look in a bathing suit.

It still doesn't make swimsuit shopping any easier. That is a task that I'm afraid will always suck.

But I guess I think that we all have to give our foggy goggles a wipe every once in a while, do the best you can with the swimsuit shopping, and maybe eventually someone will invent a better changeroom mirror with good lighting, and rose-coloured goggles. 

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  1. Online swimsuit shopping is a delight. I love my Esther Williams suits so much.

    1. That SOUNDS great. Where do you get them?


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