Since probably about the time I was 16, every year my mother tries (and fails) to convince me to let her buy me a new swimsuit. Most of the time, these “conversations” escalate into arguments.
Doing so was both frustrating and pointless – I’m certainly not about to put on the equivalent of a brightly-colored eye patch, much less actually parade about in public with it. I think she thinks I’m missing out on some sort of fun by not wearing one, and perhaps I am, but the potential for embarrassment is much greater than any entertainment I might gain.
The swimsuit is every woman’s frenemy. We love its freedom but hate how we look in them. They’re the bane of spring clothing shopping, and the eyeglass through which bodily imperfections are seen.
According to Women’s Health magazine, the average woman in the United States owns three swimsuits and would also rather get a root canal than go shopping for one of those three suits. Men around the globe salivate over the famed Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. So I have to wonder, what gives these few inches of Spandex such power?
It hasn’t always been a love/hate relationship between swimsuits and myself. I grew up living by a lake, and spent most of my summers at the beach across the way. As soon as self-awareness about body image hit me, that was the end of my affair with swimwear.
One thought that occupies my brain these days is if I’ll ever look “good enough” to wear a swimsuit, and also the definition of “good enough”. Does that mean looking like Heidi Klum in one, or just having the self confidence to don a suit and not care what anyone else thinks? If I’m going to choose the latter, why don’t I just wear one now? The questions just flood in, one after another, and none of them make one iota of sense.
And so, my lover’s quarrel with swimsuits goes on, ruling my life with its mysterious manipulative skills, leaving myself (and many others) to ponder, fret, and forget their purpose: just something to cover up your naughty bits while swimming.