For some women, it’s shoes. For others, it’s sunglasses. For me, it’s bathing suits.
Black, pink, yellow. Floral, stripe, fringe. String, scoop, boy short. Halter, bandeau, tankini. I have more bathing suits than is healthy for one person to have in her lifetime. I’ve simply lost count.
To be fair, I grew up on a lake and my family has always had water toys; the floating kind like inner tubes, and motorized kind like power boats. Basically, I’ve spent my summers living in a bathing suit since I was born. This is what I have to explain to everyone who asks, “Steph, is that a new bathing suit?”
It’s kind of embarrassing, but yes.
I’ll buy one a year, every year. Sometimes two if they’re marked down from last season. And here we are again. It’s that time of year. Warm weather may seem months away, but tell that to the companies that keep sending me bathing suit catalogues! My newest obsession is a camouflage two-piece. I also have my eye on a checkered tankini.
And here’s why I’ll justify buying a new one this year:
1) It’s a fashion statement. I don’t even think about bathing suits for swimming in, although that’s an added bonus. I like to look good in the clothes I wear, but I’m just not fashion savvy enough to layer things over other things and make it look right. But bathing suits I can handle. It’s a top and a bottom. And it could be more simplified by just wearing a one-piece.
2) Bathing suits have personalities. If clothes are a form of expression, then bathing suits are allowed to have personalities, too. Each of mine does. This one is fun. This one is sexy. This one is sporty. This one is patriotic. This one is country. They all have a purpose, and perhaps I love bathing suits because such a big statement can be made about me with such a small piece of material. However, ironically, no one suit in particular completes who I think I am. I’m a little bit fun, sexy, sporty, patriotic and country. Too bad we can’t layer all the suits together.
3) Bathing suits motivate me. I try to eat healthy and be active all year round, but when those catalogues start coming my way in February, now I’m seriously motivated to feel good in my skin.
And that’s where the sad truth about me and bathing suits comes in:
I admit that I secretly hope a bathing suit will transform my body. One reason I have too many suits could be because each year I think “this will be the suit that I finally will have smooth legs in.” “This suit will lift my butt so it will look like the girl wearing it in the catalogue.” “This suit will fit better on my hips.” Am I truly getting motivated to feel good in my skin when I study these catalogues? I think I know deep down I’m yearning to be in her skin.
For that matter, I hate what bathing suits represent. And I’m smart enough to see what’s happening…that they couldn’t just stop at “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini.” They have to go and make them teenier, tinier, with more provocative cut-outs than the year before. Swimwear isn’t for swimming apparently. It’s strictly for being ogled at. So if most suit selections on the rack are getting skimpier and sexier each year, are we expected to get skinnier and sexier?
And I’m so tired of other magazines trying to educate us on how to pick the “right bathing suit” for our body shape. Sure, I get it. But I’d prefer not to be categorized by “small chest” “curvy” “pear shape” “apple” “long torso” “sporty” or “big chest.” Some of us are more than one of the above. And depending on the day, I’ve probably been all the above at one time or another.
So how can it be that I love and loathe bathing suits? I don’t have a clue, but I’ve laid it out there. If you’re like me, this is just a pleasant reminder that rather than look at the model in the suit and think you’ll look like her, you should simply pick a color, style and comfort that make you happy. That’s what a healthy relationship with a bathing suit looks like.
So I’m not going to boycott bathing suits. In fact, if I promise to not let myself believe a bathing suit suit will magically transform me (and be genuinely OK with that) I’ll treat myself to a new one this year.
Probably the checkered tankini.