My new neighborhood has been rife with the activity of new pools being built and existing pools being serviced, signs that summer and swimsuit season is near.
Confession #1: I hate swimsuit shopping.
Confession #2: I have been wearing the same two swimsuits since 2009, the year after my daughter was born. In that time, I have gained weight, lost it, gained it back and lost again.
If you look at any family holiday pictures, you would be hard pressed to guess the year by looking at me because I have am wearing the same two suits, due to the warped mentality of “I’ll buy a new suit when I lose weight.”
Don’t get me wrong — I really like these suits. But seven years is a long time, so off to the mall I went.
The swimwear store displayed suits in blocks of color on floor racks and up the walls. After I’d searched all the racks twice, an anorexic 20-something salesperson 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 with tummy coverage.”
She looks at my tummy. She looks at me.
She pulls a few suits from the rack.
They all have tiny bikini bottoms. With strings on the sides. I sigh.
Patiently, I start: “Gee, those are SUPER cute. But I need a swim bottom that is more like a brief.”
Salesgirl: *blinks* Offers the suits she has pulled.
Me: “No, see *embarrassed laugh* I can’t wear those bottoms. I prefer more coverage.”
Feeling desperate, I stammer on. “Look, I had a C-section and my tummy is, well, it’s no longer flat. 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 my hips can look like Play-doh extruding from a mold.
Me, now irritated, because she is going to make me go THERE, oh yes, she is. I breathe deeply. I count to 10. It does not help.
“No,” I say through gritted teeth, “Those are still bikini bottoms. I had a C-section. I look like a sharpie, and my tummy will hang over that bottom. I NEED a swim brief. Or boy shorts. Or a tummy tuck, but I doubt you’ve got one of those in the back.” Her semi-vacant eyes go WIDE.
I take the suit I’ve found and stomp off to the dressing room. Shortly she drapes a suit over the door — it has a tummy-coverage bottom! However, still lacking understanding, she has also offered a tight cropped top which squeezes everything I have out the bottom.
If you want to look like you are sporting a flesh-colored inner tube, this was the suit to get.
I wrestle out of the snug-fitting top, vowing to hit the gym harder, and quietly hand back the suits with look of defeat.
She drops them on the counter as if contaminated and takes another traumatized peek at my well-camouflaged stomach area.
I may have scarred her for life.
I might not be sorry for that.
With that, I departed to order a suit from Lands’ End, with their hidden panels and flared swim tops, because they get me.
This was LAST spring. Trying on my suit yesterday, I discovered that once again, I ate my stress over the winter and now this suit doesn’t fit as well as before.
Thank goodness I still have that old swimsuit.
— Jennifer Belden
Jenn is a Yankee adapting to life in Texas, where she is is called mom by two sarcastic kids and one ebullient (and flatulent) spaniel and wife by one bossy guy. When she’s not writing on her blog, Momma on the Rocks, she can be found working on her first childrens’ book, drinking too much coffee and making creative excuses for avoiding the laundry.