Swimsuit Stress

By

Swimsuit Stress

Summer is here which means it’s that time of year again – time to suck in that tummy for unnatural periods of time as you venture out in public in your swimsuit. It makes my back ache just thinking about it.

Beach vacations are one thing, but it’s the dreaded pool-party invitation I hate – neighbors and strangers about to see you semi-naked and chat to you as if this were completely normal. Even more nightmarish is the enthusiastic host who insists everybody join in the pool games which require jumping and bouncing around in this state of undress. Someone get me a drink! Getting up and walking to the bathroom is stressful enough. I’m the one at pool parties glued to the lounger, striving to remain horizontal for as long as possible, which works until nature calls. You resist, but now your bladder resembles the water balloon being tossed around in the pool and sucking in your tummy is painful. Reluctantly, you stand up and hustle to the toilet, hands strategically clasped over your bulging, cramping tummy. And they call that a party? At least beach vacations are mostly family, and family loves you unconditionally – they see beyond the flab; neighbors, on the other hand, can spot a spare tire a mile off.

Consequently, summer finds me on a desperate quest for any magazine article on how to choose the correct swimsuit to flatter your body shape. The svelte dreamer inside my aging, sagging skin yearns to ignore reality and buy a two-piece. Some people want to run a marathon or do profound things before they die; I dream of wearing a two-piece one more time. Unless I find a magazine that has discovered one guaranteed to make you look ten pounds slimmer, the conventional, hide-the-evidence swimsuit has my name written all over it.

Having said that, I have witnessed other women, both larger and older than me, stroll around in a bikini without a care in the world, oozing fun and happiness. I admire them and envy them; I wish I had that kind of easy-going, don’t-care attitude. It makes me wonder whether choosing a swimsuit is a numbers game, whether it’s about which suit best hides that spare tire, or whether it is simply a question of body confidence? If it is about numbers, which number are we talking about – age or scale? Keep in mind that scales lie and, sometimes, so do we. If it is a spare tire issue, are we talking bicycle, car or truck size? If it is, as I suspect, a body-confidence issue, then my two piece dreams are doomed; I could never relax. Exposing my aging, sagging stomach to the general public catapults me way out of my comfort zone; wearing sleeveless t-shirts is bad enough.

People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.

– Erma Bombeck

I did once own a two-piece, but I only felt truly comfortable wearing it under the safety of a sarong. Sarongs are life savers. I bought my first one when I turned 40. Little did I know it would be the dawn of a new era of age-related clothing.

It started with stretch jeans. I resisted these with the same denial I resisted glasses. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can read without squinting and relax on a long drive without unbuttoning my pants. Bliss. Shortly after came the loose-fitting tops; gone are the days of the sleeveless tank – underarm skin is too unforgiving. Most of my skirts, or at least the ones I wear, have elastic waists, and capri-length pants replaced shorts after spiders started crawling up my legs. For the most part, I am at peace with my age-friendly wardrobe except for one thing – swimsuits; they are the summery thorn in my padded side, and shopping for one is guaranteed to achieve two things: remind me of the effects of aging and gravity and crush my mood.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting older. Turning 40 was the best thing that ever happened to me. The clarity I now feel in my life is cathartic and empowering. I am doing things, saying things, and even feeling things I never dreamed of. My new-found clarity has breathed into me a confidence that embraces me during the fall, winter and spring. It’s just that it starts to crack when summer beckons and crumbles completely as soon as someone cries, “Pool Party.” Body-image insecurities buried since puberty come rushing back to the surface, and I find myself scrambling for excuses. I mean, what is all that about? I’m old enough to know better!

I blame it on reverse elasticity.

When you are young, your skin is smooth, taut, and wrinkle free, like tight-fitting sheets on a freshly-made bed. As you age, your bed takes on more of a slept-in look, and to make matters worse, your mattress starts to sag. Fortunately, the defense mechanism we call wisdom, convinces us that not only do we prefer our old, comfy mattress, but its appeal grows dramatically every year. I know this to be true because as I get older, I look forward to going to bed more and more all the time.

Meanwhile, the pool parties loom, and I have decided that any swimsuit that can help me look ten pounds slimmer will ease my angst. Part of me wishes I could throw caution to the wind and buy that two-piece; after all, if other women can wear one, so can I. I’d have to buy a matching sarong though, just in case, so I could put it on over my two-piece. And whenever I walked to the bathroom.

Of course, there is one other option:

I could just say No.

About this writer

  • Summer is here which means it’s that time of year again – time to suck in that tummy for unnatural periods of time as you venture out in public in your swimsuit. It makes my back ache just thinking about it.

    Beach vacations are one thing, but it’s the dreaded pool-party invitation I hate – neighbors and strangers about to see you semi-naked and chat to you as if this were completely normal. Even more nightmarish is the enthusiastic host who insists everybody join in the pool games which require jumping and bouncing around in this state of undress. Someone get me a drink! Getting up and walking to the bathroom is stressful enough. I’m the one at pool parties glued to the lounger, striving to remain horizontal for as long as possible, which works until nature calls. You resist, but now your bladder resembles the water balloon being tossed around in the pool and sucking in your tummy is painful. Reluctantly, you stand up and hustle to the toilet, hands strategically clasped over your bulging, cramping tummy. And they call that a party? At least beach vacations are mostly family, and family loves you unconditionally – they see beyond the flab; neighbors, on the other hand, can spot a spare tire a mile off.

    Consequently, summer finds me on a desperate quest for any magazine article on how to choose the correct swimsuit to flatter your body shape. The svelte dreamer inside my aging, sagging skin yearns to ignore reality and buy a two-piece. Some people want to run a marathon or do profound things before they die; I dream of wearing a two-piece one more time. Unless I find a magazine that has discovered one guaranteed to make you look ten pounds slimmer, the conventional, hide-the-evidence swimsuit has my name written all over it.

    Having said that, I have witnessed other women, both larger and older than me, stroll around in a bikini without a care in the world, oozing fun and happiness. I admire them and envy them; I wish I had that kind of easy-going, don’t-care attitude. It makes me wonder whether choosing a swimsuit is a numbers game, whether it’s about which suit best hides that spare tire, or whether it is simply a question of body confidence? If it is about numbers, which number are we talking about – age or scale? Keep in mind that scales lie and, sometimes, so do we. If it is a spare tire issue, are we talking bicycle, car or truck size? If it is, as I suspect, a body-confidence issue, then my two piece dreams are doomed; I could never relax. Exposing my aging, sagging stomach to the general public catapults me way out of my comfort zone; wearing sleeveless t-shirts is bad enough.

    People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.

    – Erma Bombeck

    I did once own a two-piece, but I only felt truly comfortable wearing it under the safety of a sarong. Sarongs are life savers. I bought my first one when I turned 40. Little did I know it would be the dawn of a new era of age-related clothing.

    It started with stretch jeans. I resisted these with the same denial I resisted glasses. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can read without squinting and relax on a long drive without unbuttoning my pants. Bliss. Shortly after came the loose-fitting tops; gone are the days of the sleeveless tank – underarm skin is too unforgiving. Most of my skirts, or at least the ones I wear, have elastic waists, and capri-length pants replaced shorts after spiders started crawling up my legs. For the most part, I am at peace with my age-friendly wardrobe except for one thing – swimsuits; they are the summery thorn in my padded side, and shopping for one is guaranteed to achieve two things: remind me of the effects of aging and gravity and crush my mood.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love getting older. Turning 40 was the best thing that ever happened to me. The clarity I now feel in my life is cathartic and empowering. I am doing things, saying things, and even feeling things I never dreamed of. My new-found clarity has breathed into me a confidence that embraces me during the fall, winter and spring. It’s just that it starts to crack when summer beckons and crumbles completely as soon as someone cries, “Pool Party.” Body-image insecurities buried since puberty come rushing back to the surface, and I find myself scrambling for excuses. I mean, what is all that about? I’m old enough to know better!

    I blame it on reverse elasticity.

    When you are young, your skin is smooth, taut, and wrinkle free, like tight-fitting sheets on a freshly-made bed. As you age, your bed takes on more of a slept-in look, and to make matters worse, your mattress starts to sag. Fortunately, the defense mechanism we call wisdom, convinces us that not only do we prefer our old, comfy mattress, but its appeal grows dramatically every year. I know this to be true because as I get older, I look forward to going to bed more and more all the time.

    Meanwhile, the pool parties loom, and I have decided that any swimsuit that can help me look ten pounds slimmer will ease my angst. Part of me wishes I could throw caution to the wind and buy that two-piece; after all, if other women can wear one, so can I. I’d have to buy a matching sarong though, just in case, so I could put it on over my two-piece. And whenever I walked to the bathroom.

    Of course, there is one other option:

    I could just say No.

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