Women and Bathing Suits
By Diane Hickey Carter
What is it about women and bathing suits? We love to go clothes shopping but this is one piece of clothing we would rather not go shopping for. Why? Any woman over the age of twenty-nine can tell you exactly why.
Let’s start with the obvious. We do not all look like Jessica Simpson when she put on a pair of Daisy Dukes in the movie, The Dukes of Hazzard. In fact, we’d be happy if we looked anywhere near the way Goldie Hawn does at 64. In our dreams we would exchange bodies with any one of the “Desperate Housewives” who, let’s face it, don’t really know the meaning of the word desperate. Some women over a certain age deny the need for any bathing wear whatsoever, and vow to never submerge themselves in any public body of water ever again. When I invited a friend to enjoy my pool this summer, her reply was, “I’d love to come over, but you won’t catch me in a swimsuit.” Then there are those of us, no matter what our age, hold fast to the dream that we will swim in oceans, lakes and pools whenever we want, knowing there will be a garment out there somewhere that fits us and looks fabulous. And we are on a mission to find it.
The women in my family are those people. We grew up on the east coast, spending summer vacations at the shore. At a young age, Dad took us three girls into the waves and said, “Jump ‘em or dive through ‘em.” Other times, we would go to the lake with the boat, getting dragged in a tube ride, bumping and bouncing through the wake or jumping off the side and floating on blue boat cushions in the summer sun. Now we arrange vacations to exotic beach destinations with no plans to stop anytime soon. Thus, the bathing suit obsession continues. We hate ‘em but they’re a necessary evil of this way of life.
When Mom’s birthday rolled around this month, she wanted a new bathing suit for her upcoming trip to Florida. We planned a girls’ day out visiting a specialty shop a half an hour away that exclusively sells swimwear. My sister had the day off and met us there. When we arrived, she was already admiring a suit. I laughed, and said, “Are you buying a suit too? I thought this was for Mom!” With an “oh well” kind of grin on her face, she replied, “I’m going away too, and don’t you just love this pattern?” No sooner had she said this when all three of us start pawing through the racks looking for garments for ourselves and each other to try on. There are four dressing rooms, each with a sign above; Cozumel, Aruba, Bahamas and St. Maarten, while two women attendants stand ready, catering to your every body-flaw-covering need.
At first, I sat on the white wicker chair as my mom and sister tried on suits, but it didn’t take long for my resolve to weaken, and I was in a room too. What was my justification? I also have a trip planned plus a brand new pool, which will necessitate lounging around in swimwear all summer. “Maybe I’ll just try a few on while I’m here,” I thought. “No harm in that.”
Having been to this store before, I must say that not much has changed. Prior to coming out from behind the Hawaiian themed curtain, you hear a variety of the following, “This color looks horrible on me, I’m so white,” “This is too small, I’m sagging in it” or my personal favorite, “I have cottage cheese thighs, no way am I wearing this.”
Inside we are all silently asking ourselves why the garment looked so good on the hanger and not on our body, but just when you are about to give up, one of the attendants brings you another couple of suits, certain they will fit you perfectly.
The torturous event continued as we tugged and squeezed ourselves in and out of tankinis, bikinis, sarongs and skirts. Mom tried on one suit after another, until we lost count. We agonized over which color was best, the turquoise or the brown, the black or the red. We ranked the suits in order of preference and argued over which we liked most.
You would think we were purchasing a wedding gown with the way we fussed and squawked, but I know women all over concur that a bathing suit ranks right up there with a good fitting pair of jeans, it just holds in less – all the more reason to find one that covers all the right parts in all the right places.
The morning passed by and soon we could hear our stomachs rumbling for lunch. “Like I really want to think about eating after this,” my sister laughingly remarked, and we all agreed. But that didn’t stop us. We wrapped up our excursion fast, our next stop a local Italian restaurant, but not before the sales clerk rang up three new bathing suits, one for each of us. I remarked, as any woman would in this situation, “Our vacations are a month away, plenty of time to drop a few pounds.”
When I recounted the day’s events later that evening to my husband, he exclaimed, “How could you possibly spend two hours in a store that only sells bathing suits?” Assuming it was a rhetorical question, I didn’t provide an answer, knowing one thing for sure. If he needed a new suit, he would surf the internet for a store, find his size, order one in blue, black or green and be done with it. Now, where’s the fun in that?
About this writer
- Diane Hickey Carter is an author and photographer from southern New Hampshire. Her credits include Coastal Living Magazine, The Melancholy Dane and The Nahant Harbor Review. Her award winning poem, “At Ocean’s Edge” is featured on the cover of The Nantucket Directory.