Nothing can destroy your self-esteem like fluorescent lights and a three-way mirror. I think I’m photophobic and hydrophobic now.
I hit up two department stores and my true love, Target. Although most of Target’s swimwear is made for girls barely through puberty, they do have a line of swimsuits for the more mature and lumpy. It’s mostly made of spanx and sucks your fat in so you look smooth and shiny, but we all know the fat goes somewhere. Unfortunately it’s up or down. Either my cup runneth over or my legs looked like sausage links, and I’m not talking the breakfast sausage kind. I did find a really cute swim skirt in Target. It had a ruffle and everything, but I left it behind. Unless I move to Europe, what good is a bottom without a top?
I settled on JCPenny. They had great sales on swimwear and lots of options. Did I mention I brought my daughter along? She is the voice of truth, a really loud, sometimes shrill voice. She tells it like she sees it and doesn’t feel the need to temper her words with grace when she’s critiquing my backside. I thought a second opinion never hurts, but that was two hundred swimsuits ago. I’m nearly bleeding people!
I started by roaming the racks and plucking every piece I thought was cute. After round one, a random shopper burst into my fitting room while I was sans suit. She apologized profusely, and while I know I should have been embarrassed, it didn’t even phase me. That’s what happens after you try on fifty ill-fitting swimsuits. You go numb.
Numb, but not blind. It’s unfortunate, because, I have enough stretch marks to span the distance between New York and Texas. About six weeks after I gave birth to one of my kids (I can’t remember which one), I was laying on the table while a dermatologist cut a questionable mole out of my tummy. Since my mid-section was on display, I thought I’d take the opportunity to remedy the deep grooves in my skin.
“Doctor, how can I get rid of my stretch marks?” I asked.
“Stop having babies.”
I’m glad I was paying for more than his stellar advice.
Round two: I quit looking for cute and grabbed everything in my size. I narrowed my choice down to two bottoms, but I was still searching for a top. My expectations are high. I want full support and enough coverage to keep my parts from popping out. It’s one thing to wear a flimsy patch of fabric held together with one plastic clip when you’re lounging poolside absorbing sunshine. It’s totally another when you are swimming with children. They are like sharks in a feeding frenzy. No sooner do I submerge myself and I’m lugging two kids across the deep end while they are trying their best to drown me. Those kind of water sports require full coverage and stainless steel fasteners with iron reinforcement. No mammy-pamsy swimwear will do.
I finally found two tops to match my two bottoms, but they didn’t have my size. I appreciate buying a swimsuit in two pieces, because there are more options and you can customize your size. That’s a nice way of saying you can buy the parachute pants if you need them, and maybe some of us need them. My finger is most definitely pointing at me and not you. So, I tried sizing up and down on the top, but it wasn’t working. On a desperate whim I grabbed a top that I never (this side of Tahiti) would have tried on. When I got all the fasteners secure, my daughter daughter said, “Mom, you look beautiful. Almost like a teenager.”
Although I’ve never seen a teenager wear a swimskirt, I took the compliment and the swimsuit.
Hopefully it will be a good long time before I must subject myself to such extreme torture again. Now I just have to muster the courage to wear the thing in public. Makes the fluorescent lights seem not so bad.
My husband naively thought I was the only woman who had deep, dark self-image problems when it came to swimsuits. Ha! Help him understand I am not so alone.