It's a sunny Saturday, and we decide, on a whim, to head to the beach. But I don't have a bathing suit—my drawer full of clearance cast-offs are on their last leg, faded, frayed, and with busted elastic. We need to go bathing suit shopping.
*cue horror movie music*
We start at Target because, you know, budget. Their suits are cute, and I love Target as much as the next red-blooded American female, but they’re like…not stretchy enough or something. They don't work with my curves. With the medium tops, my boobs squish out the sides. With larges, my boobs don’t fill the cup at all. It doesn't help that my boobs are shaped like tube socks. *glares angrily at children*
I start with the “full coverage” racks.
There’s a granny suit with giant flowers that screams “I’M AGING BUT WHIMSICAL!”
There’s another granny suit that is solid black and screams “I’M INSECURE ABOUT MY WEIGHT, AND BLACK IS SLIMMING.”
Hard pass. I move to the…other racks.
Rows and rows of triangles with strings. These suits scream: “I AM COMFORTABLE WITH MY FAT ROLLS, BUT NO THANKS, YOU GUYS GO BOOGIE BOARDING WITHOUT ME.” In these suits, if you get surprised by a wave, the entire beach is getting a show. *waves tube socks at everyone*
My children play hide-and-seek among the triangles and strings, trumpeting like elephants. I’m staring at the rows of fabric scraps, swallowing back tears. My husband says, Screw this, we’re going to one of those shops on the beach.
As in, the specialty boutiques where I swore I would NEVER buy a bathing suit. Who spends $100 on a bathing suit anyway? For Pete’s sake, children are starving in the world.
But my husband drags me in there and says DO NOT EVEN LOOK AT THE PRICE TAGS. Right away a pair of cute retro bottoms jumps out at me. I immediately look at the price tag: $70.
Just for the bottoms.
I bead of sweat rolls down my spine.
I pick up the suit anyway, thinking I'll try it on, just to…see. No way will I spend $140 on a suit, but I’m curious. They’re these lacy high-waisted beauties that make me want to pose like a 1940s centerfold just looking at them. I grab an armful of suits from the “cheap” section too, where prices were more in the $60 – $80 range. #SoAffordable.
[Side note: What's with those little floating triangle pads in bathing suit tops??? Dear bathing suit people: JUST SEW THE TRIANGLES IN. We. Have. Kids. We have grilled cheeses to make and butts to wipe. We don’t have time to reposition a tiny piece of fabric in our bathing suit top every time we wear it just so we can hide our saucer-sized mom nipples. Just sew them in!]
It’s time to try on some suits.
A couple of the “cheap” ones are okay, though I gotta say, examining oneself in the mirror in these places is an extreme exercise in self-acceptance. I’m deep-breathing and telling my back fat I love it just as much as I love my hips. I’ll say it till I believe it, dammit.
I save the $140 one for last because really I'm just trying it for fun. I have zero expectation of buying it. You know where this is going. All the other suits, they’re either comfortable but hideous or cute but hideously uncomfortable. No in between. But the $140 suit, of course, is absolutely perfect. It feels like my most comfortable bra and underwear. It stretches right over my parts as if it were made for me, like there is such a thing as a bathing suit god, and She has blessed me with this suit. It looks so awesome it makes me want to make out with myself. I want to go to the pool just so I can wear this thing. I will let people take pictures of me in this suit.
But it's $140 for what amounts to less than a single square yard of fabric. It's insane.
I can eulogize for hours about the virtues of loving and accepting one's body, but the truth is, it's not always easy to summon that confidence in the moment. So, no, this $140 isn't really about a few scraps of fabric. It's about being able to breathe. It's about being able to forget for a few hours to be self-conscious, even with a ton of skin showing. It's about not worrying about sucking in. It's about knowing my top won't fly off if I get pummeled by a wave. It's about not dreading social engagements involving bodies of water.
Never in a million years did I think I’d spend $140 on a bathing suit. But here we are, and I don’t feel one ounce of guilt. And, when it comes time for you to treat yourself to a new suit, I hope you won’t either.
Buy the suit.