There was a time when my dream wardrobe consisted of a one-piece swimsuit and a pair of nose plugs.
I grew up in the high desert of So-Cal and most of my relatives lived in Phoenix and Las Vegas. It’s safe to say that I was no stranger to burning-hot, liquid-magma climates.
I didn’t have a pool when I was little, but occasionally, my friends did, which helped summertime pass by in the best way. Freckled noses and shoulders, weird tan-lines and blood-shot eyes from peeking underwater during Marco Polo — Oh, huzzah for summer!
Even though it’s only January, it’s safe to say that I’ve already been thinking about this year’s bathing suit season. Sure, our local Target has been selling suits since the first week of January, but that’s not why I’ve been thinking about it.
I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere in life, I developed a great aversion to swimsuit season.
At the moment, I feel like blaming it on my strict private-school’s dress code. I HATED that dress code that held me in its evil, no-midriff clutches for 12 long years.
The school dress code varied every couple of years, but basically it looked at whatever clothes were fashionable, affordable and/or easily accessible, and made those items illegal on school grounds or field trips.
Clothing with WORDS on them? Psh. Not unless they were promoting a college.
Skirts? Try again. Unless you were lucky enough to find a frumpy piece that wasn’t any higher than 2 inches above your knee. When you’re 5’ 9’’ and 15 years old, you can pretty much count out skirts all together.
Shorts? Sure, it gets over 100 degrees out, but apparently shorts were the Devil’s way of causing mankind to stumble face-first into a pile of cool and comfortable sin. Nope. No shorts were allowed. Ever.
Midriffs were also not to be seen, even when that fad was everywhere. Midriff tops were made for teenagers! I feel like a great injustice was done to me by having me skip that fashion-blip when I actually had the lack of jiggle to take advantage of it.
Now, no one was wearing swimsuits to school, but if we ever went on a class trip (which for some reason, we seemed to do every year like it was our God-given-right as teens) we’d get to bring our swimsuits.
One-piece swimsuits, only, please.
I get it. A bikini basically looks like a bra and underwear that matches and is less see-through. I can see how that look may not be appropriate when you’re trying to teach teens to memorize scripture instead of ogling classmates in their underclothes.
One-piece suits seemed like another cruel joke on Teen-Me by the fashion-gods. Nothing cute was ever long enough for me. Normally I just had to try and hide the fact that my suit was actually compressing me together like a sad accordion. Either that or riding up into a constant wedgie in the back. (And people wonder why I have such horrible posture? Yes! Another thing I can blame on that dress code!)
To help keep our male classmates from getting caught up in the great ‘Who’s-got-bigger-cans?’ debate, many times, we thoughtful teen-gals would don a charming old t-shirt over our swimsuit. Nothing says ‘comfortable swimming attire’ like a baggy t-shirt. I’m actually surprised that lifeguards haven’t attempted to outlaw them. But, we had to come out of the water some time, and that’s when the accidental wet t-shirt contest would begin. Those poor boys had no chance.
When I worked at a summer camp in college, the one-piece swimsuit rule carried over into my daily activities. By this time, I had discovered board shorts, which meant even more modest coverage, and I never went to the pool without them. I was a regular Joan-of-Arc for modesty, I tell ya.
By this time, I was sure that being in a bathing suit in front of the male species was akin to dressing up as Delilah and performing on a pole. It was somehow, my responsibility to protect all of the men around me from stumbling into some random over-appreciation for the curves the Good Lord had given me. (Or not given me, if we’re still talking about those teen years. Yeesh.)
To love others, I must contain my lady-ness at all times.
Now that I’m well-past the age of bathing suit innocence and above-reproach summer-employment rules, I find myself running into the arms of the brazen two-piece swimsuit.
Not just because they were so forbidden, but because they just fit better. Plus, going to the bathroom is WAY easier in a bikini.
But I feel like there is a weird Mom-Law about swimsuits. Sure, a two-piece is great for when you look like a fresh-faced (or string-bean-big-boob-ed) twenty something (like an obnoxiously HIGH number of my mom-friends actually do). But, if you’re a standard mom in her thirties, tankinis are more of your expected tune.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that tankinis have helped with concealing stretch marks and occasional jiggly pieces left behind by pregnancies and parenting-stress. Hey, they even have helped make the going to the bathroom issue even easier. But for some reason, they just reek of ‘mom-ness’ to me and even though I am 100% M-O-M, I just can’t bring myself to enter into the tankini territory.
I think I put them in the same mind-corner as mom-jeans and minivans. Great for you if you need it, but God, help me if I ever get to that stage because I just may not recognize myself anymore.
Being a mom, I have
had my children take over my home, my brain, my heart, and my body. They bang on my bedroom door and ruin nearly every Song-of-Solomon-session as if they think that if their dad and I spend more than 15 minutes alone together, we may forget about them and abscond to Aruba or something. “HURRY! Bang on the door! They may forget to feed us!”
Do they have to take away my fashion sense and vehicle-vanity too?
But that’s for another blog.
Seriously, if you have a minivan or wear a tankini, just calm down already. You’re fine. If you’re wearing mom-jeans, on the other hand, we need to talk. There are options out there and comfort is nothing you will have to sacrifice to look presentable to the rest of society.
So, basically, tankinis (for me) are out but if you love sporting the ol’ tankaru while cruising around in your Odyssey-Caravan-Town-and-Country-Swaggerwagon, then more mom-power to ya.
I don’t think I am cooler/better/more chic than you. Well, maybe a little bit, but we can still be friends. You’re probably way better at cooking, sewing, teaching your children how to make bird feeders, raising livestock as pets, wearing a fedora, decorating your home, wiping down the baseboards, eating vegetables, buying organic toddler-snacks, etc. than I am.
Now that I’m working two jobs and juggling a home, two kids and a marriage (not in that order) my swimsuit time has obviously dropped significantly.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
The lack of swim-time (and swim-place availability) has actually saved me money by not needing to invest in new suits.I still wear the one I bought to go to Mexico with my husband way back in 2009. In fact, I actually still have the swimsuit my mom bought me when I graduated high school and the one I bought for my honeymoon. (As if those will ever come in handy one day again.)
I love the idea of wearing shorts and a swimsuit without feeling overly self-conscious about my mom-thighs. I really do. I’ve actually become so obsessed with the sad state of those two traitors, I’ve started taking Pilates and am even drinking water during the day. I have also tried cauliflower and have taken to regularly forcing down a salad or two. Dear Lord, I hope it’s worth it by the time the warm days arrive.
Because — just maybe — the stars will align and I will get to go swimming and frolic in a pool or lake or something with my family and friends. Probably not, but I like to be prepared in case the situation arises. And the idea of getting to stroll around in my swimsuit bottoms SANS COVERUP shorts/dress/skirt has me all kinds of excited and hopeful.
What do you think about swimsuit season? Do you overthink it, too? Do you choose a bathing suit based on the audience around you, or based on what would make you the most comfortable?
Do tell. I have no life and cyber-discussions are a bit easier to squeeze into my schedule than actual face-to-face ones. Don’t judge. It’s just a season. Right?