On Swimsuit Shopping and other Mortifications

My new neighborhood is rife with the activity of new pools being built and existing pools being serviced, signs that summer is approaching.

Which, in turn, means I will have to put on a swim suit.

Confession #1: I hate swim suit shopping. I would rather walk barefoot through a pit of Legos while listening to Kenny G songs played by tone-deaf 6th grade beginner band clarinets than shop for swimsuits.

Confession #2: I have been wearing the same two swimsuits since about 2009, the year after my daughter was born. In that time, I have gained weight, and lost it, gained again and lost again.
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If you look at any of my family holiday pictures, you would be hard pressed to guess what year one was taken by looking at me alone because I have the SAME DANG SUIT ON, other than perhaps guessing based on the length of my hair.

Ok, fine: and my weight.

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This is due primarily to the messed up mentality of “I’ll buy a new suit when I lose weight”.

Never a good plan, people, when you like tacos and margaritas as much as I do.

Don’t get me wrong – I really, really like these suits. But.

7 years is a long time.

So off to the mall I went, finally.

Pale winter skin, combined with the unforgiving fluorescent lighting glowing harshly overhead, guaranteed that the resulting glare was blinding. (I repeat: is there anything more mortifying than swimsuit shopping?)

(And I thought jean shopping was horrendous. Or root canals. Pffft.)

I stopped into a swim wear store, where suits were displayed by blocks of color on racks on the floor and up the walls. It was an obsessive-compulsive’s delight. After I’ve poked around all the racks twice, the very young, Kate Moss-ish thin shop clerk approached and asked if I needed help.

I explained: “I’m looking for a suit. I need a LONG tankini and bottoms that are not a bikini – something that covers my tummy.”

She looks at my tummy. She looks at me. Looks at my stomach again.

She pulls a few suits from the rack.

They all have tiny bikini bottoms. TEENY. With strings on the sides. I sigh.

Patiently, I start again: “Gee, those are SUPER cute. But I need a swim bottom that is more like a brief.”

Salesgirl: blinks Holds out the suits she has pulled.

Me: “No, see embarrassed laugh I can’t wear those little bottoms. I need more coverage.”

Silence

Feeling a bit desperate, I continue. “No, see, I had a c-section, and my tummy is, well, let’s just say it’s not flat any more. And low-cut bikinis hit my c-section line. Do you have any bottoms that offer more coverage?”

Salesgirl: blinks She pulls another swimsuit. This one is also a bikini bottom, but without strings. Instead, it has plastic rings on the sides. So, you know, so my hips can look Play-doh extruding from a mold.

Me, slightly irritated now. Because she is going to make me go THERE, oh yes, she is. I breathe deeply. I count to ten. It does not help.

“No”, I say through gritted teeth, “those are still bikini bottoms. I had a c-section. I look like a sharpei and my tummy will just hang over that bottom. I NEED a swim brief. Or boy shorts. Something I can tuck my extra stomach into. Or a tummy tuck, but I doubt you’ve got one of those in the back.” I say this, but there have been times where I have gone as far as wanting to get in touch with specialists like Sachin Shridharani, as going through the process of having an actual tummy tuck would be a way of getting rid of this problem and I would feel a lot better in myself, especially when I go to the beach. My friend (who has also had a C section) had a tummy tuck and she’s never been happier. Body confidence is such a big thing nowadays and I completely understand why she decided to get Southlake Tummy Tuck Surgery. The salesgirl’s semi-vacant eyes go WIDE.

I turn with the suit I’ve found in hand and stomp off to the dressing room. Shortly after, she hands me a suit over the door – it has a tummy-coverage bottom! Yay! However, she is still not grasping the situation and has also handed me really short, really tight tankini top, that pretty much squeezes everything I have out the bottom of the top.

If you want to look like you are wearing a flesh-colored inner tube, this was the suit to get.

I attempt to take off to top, and get trapped in it, arms overhead, face covered. I bend over, willing gravity to pull the suit from my arms. Some added thrashing, a plethora of foul language (possibly some directed at the salesgirl), and I trip over the stool in the corner. Perfect. I imagine mall security finding me after the store has closed, still trussed like a holiday goose, because I’m sure the salesclerk is back to nibbling kale leaves and browsing Snapchat and has forgotten about me completely.

I contemplate how one might dislocate one’s shoulder, desperate to extract myself from the suit. Swearing apparently works, because I finally got the tank off. Despite the accomplishment, I feel defeated.

Vowing to hit the gym twice as hard, I quietly hand back all the suits with a defeated look on my face.

She drops them on the counter like c-section belly is contagious and takes another peek at my (well camouflaged) stomach area, then back at the suit she’s dropped on the counter like it was about to get up and crawl away on its own, the zombie suit, a look of mortification on her face.

I may have damaged her for life.

I might not have been sorry for that.

And I gave up and headed home to order a suit from the Land’s End catalog, because, hey, they get me, and my tummy, with their hidden belly panels and their flared swim tops that pretend to hide every flaw.

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Added: this all went down LAST spring. Trying on my suit last week, I discovered that once again, I ate my stress all winter and now this suit doesn’t fit as well as it did last summer.

I refuse to go through this again. So if you need me, I’ll be at the gym. Really, I will.

Thank goodness I still have that old swimsuit.

Comments

  1. Oh, goodness, I can so relate. They really ought to have some women employees OUR size on every shift who understand our plight! I don’t do local shopping for swimsuits or undergarments. My favorite go-to online shopping site is Woman Within – with stylish clothing that fits right!

  2. eveofreduction says

    the suit you got is so cute! I love the little skirt two-piece suits.

  3. Jenn, the black suit is cute. How about another from Lands End? “They get you.”

    • The black suit is the new one. I need to double my gym efforts because I think that will be easier than finding another flattering suit!

  4. Great, just great post. It is the worst, bathing suit shopping, the worst. I’m absolutely sure, that there’s a lot of money to be made, by someone who might cater to just that one clothing item for our demographic. I have lots of ideas and designs in my head. Now, anyone want to work with me? Thank you for the post!

    Anita

    • Yes! My beef is that swimsuit styles seem to go from extreme to extreme – either they are made for the super fit, or they are made with tummy control, assuming we’ve lost all hope so a frumpy suit is fine. I think you need to find a partner for those suits!

  5. I hate swimsuit shopping too! I have had the same suit for about 10 years and after last years ocean episode (I lost my suit in a rogue wave!) I have to find a new one. I did notice that this year they have been showing swimming shorts for women I will definitely be checking these out!

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