I hate bathing suit season. I am pretty sure that is a fairly universal feeling among the female population.
And I live in Florida. For those unfamiliar with our Southern climate, bathing suit season has approximately the same life as human gestation.
With good reason, mind you. The heat and humidity here reaches a level of oppression that keeps me indoors unless I can be as close to naked as possible and simultaneously covered in water.
Since social norms (not to mention my own desire to keep people from fleeing the neighborhood, screaming, “My eyes! It burns!”) dictate that at least some bits be covered in public, a bathing suit becomes a rather necessary piece of clothing in this state.
It took me a while to come to terms with the idea that these aforementioned facts made it okay to spend more than the $19.99 on my yearly suit purchase.
Fortunately, my sister was working for a designer bathing suit company when I had this epiphany, which meant access to a great discount, not to mention a wide selection of high quality suits.
Or at least, I thought this was good news.
Upon entering one of their stores, in one of the chichi malls in our area, I thought to myself, “This is going to work. Look at all the choices! Certainly there will be something here that doesn’t make me look like a) a pregnant sow b) I belong on the prow of the ship or c) a sausage plumping beyond its casing. Also, mmmm, sausage.”
I set about choosing a variety of suits. One pieces that guaranteed to slim through the middle with a combination of strategic shirring and Spanx-like fabric, Tankinis; I even dared to grab a few bikinis with generously cut bottoms.
And then it began.
I’ll point out right now: I have no delusions about my body magically transforming into something worthy of The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. Or a JCPenney catalog, for that matter.
I do know that I can look in a mirror when I am down to the basics and not be absolutely horrified by what I see. On good days, I might even venture to say I look okay, albeit in 1950s Hollywood terms, rather than the no-hipped, sculpted ab style of modern times.
Back to the dressing room. As I shimmied and scooted around, doing a little dance to squeeze myself into various suits and cursing fluorescent lighting (why, stores, why?!), some choices looked awful, some had potential, but they all had the same problem.
They neglected to leave ample space for an ample bosom.
Which seems odd to me. I mean, we do live in a society where girls are artificially plumping up the ladies. Wouldn’t designers start building a suit to accommodate this “growth”?
I hoped that it was just the cheaper suits that neglected the larger busted ladies. After all, more expense goes into the creation of a suit that hugs, lifts, separates, and contains. I get that. I don’t expect to walk into Old Navy and find a top that’s going to offer the same loving support my bra does.
But in a shop where the suits easily exceed $100, I expect underwire. I expect enough fabric to keep the squirrels from escaping.
Maybe the fake boobs of the world don’t have to be accommodated. Maybe the women with the enhanced frontpieces are happy to wander the beaches and public pools and streets as their cups runneth over.
For me, I had no choice in what fills my shirt. I had no say in future back problems and an inability to be a stomach sleeper. No one asked me how I’d feel about having to don more than one sports bra to go for a run.
I’m not complaining.
I just wish that someone would give me the choice to keep the majority of my chesticles to myself.
So, for now, I navigate the summer with an old maternity tankini, one that keeps the girls close, and leaves room for me to store a beach ball in the midsection.
At least if I ever find myself lost at sea, I can inflate the belly and float long enough to wait for rescue.