Friday, May 27, 2016


My friend Pauline called the other day and mentioned that her doctor had recommended she try aquatic therapy for her bad back.

“It sounds like a good idea,” she said. “But I haven’t worn a bathing suit in years.”

After I hung up, I started thinking about the last time I’d worn a swimsuit.

I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I do remember the swimsuit – a hot-pink one-piece with a modest neckline, short skirt, and a built-in bra that was so stiff and pointy, I probably could have speared fish with it.  I also remember the year I bought it, because it was the summer of the first moon landing.

I wore that same swimsuit every summer for years, until the hot pink faded into more of an off-white with scattered pink spots. Also, the straps stretched out until the neckline drooped down to somewhere around my navel.                            
The pink swimsuit after it started to fade

But I never bought another swimsuit after that.

I think it was because by the time the pink one wore out, I was in my 30s and at that “in-between” stage…somewhere between wearing a sexy bikini and something that resembled my grandmother’s couch cover.

I actually did attempt to shop for a new swimsuit, mostly by looking through catalogs. But none of the photos enticed me to buy anything.

For one thing, several catalogs contained only bikinis. The styles were, for lack of a better description…eye opening.  One bikini looked as if it had been made from two buttons and a Doritos corn chip.  Another one, in silver metallic, looked like two strips of duct tape.  And I barely could believe my eyes when I read, “dry clean only” in some of the descriptions!

The depressing part was the catalog models made each and every creation look absolutely stunning. I began to suspect they weren’t actually real women, but genetically altered clones.  I mean, what human woman doesn’t have even one visible body hair, mole, scar, stretch mark, pimple, dimple or freckle?  And how many women can lie flat on their backs and still have breasts that defy gravity? 

I also wondered why I, a woman whose thighs stick together in hot weather and create so much suction, I nearly need the jaws of life to pry them apart, had been sent a bikini catalog? I concluded it was part of some evil scheme to taunt me. I mean, even my rottweiler would look better in a bikini than I would.   

But then I received a swimsuit catalog that was the polar opposite of the bikini ones.  The women who graced its pages, to my relief, didn’t resemble flawless mannequins. They had midriff bulge and saddlebags, and the only things they were wearing that looked smaller than a size 10 were their sandals.   

So what kind of swimsuits were these more realistic-looking women modeling?  In a word…hideous. Most of the styles looked as if they’d been made from about 20 yards of 1950s drapery material. One swimsuit in particular caught my eye because its level of hideousness surpassed the rest. It was dark blue with huge light-blue and bright orange flowers splashed all over it. The neckline was high and cut square across, and the waistline was puffed out in a bubble effect, to conceal any bulges or muffin tops.  At the hips was a skirt that flared out like a square-dancing skirt, with a rippled hem.  

My first thought was I’d be afraid to get a suit like that wet because when all of that material soaked up water, the weight of it probably would drag me down to the bottom of the briny deep. The good news, however, was the colors were so flashy, if I ever went missing while swimming, astronauts orbiting the earth would be able to spot me. 

Another swimsuit in the catalog all but guaranteed to make the wearer end up swallowing half the ocean. The top went all the way up to the neck, where the only place where cleavage might be able to pop out was in the area of the Adam's apple.  The waist was wrapped in layers of material, kind of like a mummy, and the skirt went down to the knees. On the plus side, women wearing it would save a lot of money on sunscreen because hardly any skin would be exposed. And when the swimsuit wasn’t being worn, it could be propped up on a pole and used as a beach umbrella that would provide shade for about five people. 

The different catalogs made me wonder just what kind of message the manufacturers were trying to send.  To me, they seemed to be saying that if a woman has a perfect body, she should flaunt it in as little material as legally possible. But if she doesn’t look like a fitness model, she should wrap herself in something that resembles a Hawaiian tablecloth. 

So I haven’t purchased a new swimsuit in over 45 years. I guess my problem is I’m still waiting for another swimsuit catalog; one that’s for women whose body parts are heading toward Florida instead of saluting Canada…one that’s for women whose butts can be found somewhere down around the backs of their knees.  

My perfect swimsuit would be classy but simple. It also would lift the bust and rear-end, flatten the stomach, lengthen the legs and conceal cellulite and varicose veins.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much.

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