She's Got the Bathing Suit Blues

Lucy finds that buying a slenderizing swimsuit isn't for the faint of heart.

No matter your weight, women get freaked out whenever it’s time to buy a bathing suit. I’ve always hated buying one, even when I was young and had no body issues. But, we’re getting ready to go on vacation, and the last time my current swimsuit was in style was the early 80s.

First thing I did was to thumb through women’s magazines, looking for what’s fashionable right now. I came across article after article counseling that once I had figured out my body shape, they had tips for the best bathing suit for me. I saw straight-shaped, pear-shaped, inverted triangle-shaped, and several other body types. Problem was, I couldn’t find mine – outta shape.

Armed with ideas, I headed for the mall. I chose the mall because there were several large chain stores in one place, plus lots of smaller stores. I figured I had a better shot at finding my bathing suit there than driving to every strip mall in the area.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m lazy; the mall had the best opportunity to get this done and over with in as little time as possible. I’d be home with a suit in time to make dinner and watch "Big Brother." Off I went.

As I walked in, I quickly began to think I’d made a mistake. The corridors were filled with teenagers who looked at me as if I’d just disturbed their shrine with my old self. Too bad for them; I was there on a mission. The teens would have to share their kingdom with the likes of me.

I saw a sign that boasted 20 percent off the entire bathing suit line; but it was at Victoria’s Secret, the bastion of rail-thin models with oversized breast implants. Still, I had to take a look around. A perky, 20-something sales girl came up and asked if she could help me. I don’t know if it was my insecurity, or if I really heard her add, “Out the door.”

The merchandise confirmed what I knew; this wasn’t the place for me. Even when I was younger I don’t think I would have been comfortable wearing Victoria's Secret swimwear, which amounted to little more than dental floss with ruffles.

I went into a department store and headed toward the beachwear. I stood in the middle of swimsuit territory, reading placards that claimed to work wonders for my figure. One line claimed that my curves would be flattered and shaped thanks to tummy controlling technology; another line claimed to be swimwear with shaping secrets for the real woman’s body. It seemed as if all the lines were promising I was going to love what I saw in the mirror when I wore their magical swimsuits.

Barring a Slim Fast miracle, there wasn’t much of a chance of that happening. Still, after I read another placard promising nothing short of a mystical transformation, I was beginning to buy the hype.

I grabbed several wonder suits and headed for the dressing room, eager to see the amazing change in my body.

Unfortunately, it was occupied by several teenaged girls that didn’t look like they’d eaten so much as a raisin in the past year. They modeled bikinis that would make the ruffled dental floss look modest, each squealing things like, “Does this make me look fat?” 

I slithered into a stall, hoping not to bring any attention to me and my matronly, magical shape wear. Unfortunately, I caught one of the girls eyeballing me, so I figured I’d have fun with it. I said, “I don’t know about you girls, but I’m getting really tired of people using me for my body. For shade and stuff.” The girls laughed, and I proceeded into a booth and began trying to pour myself into one of the magical swimsuits.

Here’s the thing about miracle swimwear; it’s made out of something called Lycra, which is about as flexible as sheet metal. I was able to get my legs through, but the rest of the suit balled around my rear end. I grabbed handfuls of fabric, and pulled with everything I had. I finally got the chest part of the suit over my butt, but there was a way to go before I got the bra where it belonged. After double checking to be sure I’d grabbed the right size, I pulled and pulled, but it wouldn’t budge any farther.

Trying to use gravity, I lay down on the floor, put my feet up on the bench, and used my legs to lift my body while I tried tugging the suit in place. Unfortunately, the bench wasn’t screwed in as I had thought. The next thing I knew, the bench toppled over, sending piles of swimsuits, my clothes and plastic hangars raining down all over me.

Next, as if in slow motion, my purse began a bizarre barrel roll as it careened down the bench, bumped over my legs and spilled its entire contents all over my half-naked body. My wallet skidded out sending credit cards through the air, spilling open the change purse, which sprayed coins all over the small booth - with a random quarter or two pinging off the mirror.

I’m here to tell you; you don’t know true humiliation in your life until you find yourself lying half-naked on the floor of a dressing room stall with a bathing suit gathered around your rear end, covered in change, credit cards and plastic hangers; with teenaged girls banging on the door asking if you’re all right.

That was it. There was no way I was going to find some magical swimsuit that would make me look like a rail-thin Victoria's Secret model with over-sized boobs. After I cleaned up the mess I’d made, I left the store, came home and made dinner in time for "Big Brother."

My swimsuit dilemma? You know what they say; everything old is new again. Look out swimming pool; me and my 80s neon swimsuit, bedazzled cover up, leg warmers and overly teased and sprayed hair are on our way.

"Like" Tamara Kells, The Brunnette Lucy, on Facebook. You can ask her questions about an article, get hints for what's coming up or suggest an idea for one.

Jim Bryan July 22, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I will be seen in public in a swimsuit when I see Oprah wearing a TuTu....
Sarah Larson July 23, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Very funny! If you still need a suit, try Lands' End. Mature, but not matronly, and well made.
Pamela July 23, 2012 at 02:17 PM
miracle suits....$50 to make you look like 10lbs stuffed into a a 5lb sack...and it takes a crow bar and baby oil to pry it on..oh and then you need to get it off while it's wet!!!!! No thanks....Bathing suit selection is either let it all hang out or cover it all up.. I settled on the basic black thing that I had in the drawer from 9 years ago...still in great shape and still in style...and amazingly still fit....lol..
earndoggy July 23, 2012 at 04:20 PM
LOL! My idea of a swim suit is shorts and an oversized t-shirt! I remember the days when I could wear tiny triangles.... barely, they're in the distant (very distant) past. It was fun while it lasted.
Lani July 27, 2012 at 05:11 AM
I agree on Lands' End's bathing suits. They even have 2-piece mix-and-match suits (some cover your midriff, if that's a body-part you want to hide) where each piece can be purchased in a different size, for those who are disproportionate. Plus you can order them online, so no embarrassment in the fitting room, and returns are as easy as pie (by mail or at a Sears store). Unfortunately nobody has come up with a bathing suit that will hide my cellulitic thighs! (Disclosure: I have no financial or legal interest in Lands' End or Sears.)


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