Typically I don’t try on clothes in stores. I buy something I want (if it’s something I really want or need immediately I’ll buy it in two sizes), try it on at home, and return it if it doesn’t work. I’m not sure if this habit is a leftover from my years and years of obesity and not wanting to look at myself in the mirror, or if it’s just laziness. Overall, it’s a practice that works pretty well for me … except for swimsuit shopping.
There’s no escaping it: you must try on swimsuits in the store to know if they fit.
So there’s the anxiety about trying things on in the store, but dear Lord, why are there so many mirrors?!? And could the lighting in dressing rooms be any less flattering???
In addition to having been obese my entire adult life until the age of 44, I was a fat kid. In the 1960s and 70s, I was a fat kid before there were many fat kids. The fact that I had rolls of fat on my abdomen and thighs when nearly all my peers were rail thin was no picnic, but each summer it became even more difficult to hide when all the neighborhood kids ran around in swimsuits all day. I vividly recall kids poking at my fat, laughing and asking, “What’s that???”
Though I am a “normal” weight now – and in fact, swim for fitness all the time – putting on a swimsuit always dredges up these memories for me.
Swimsuit shopping, even after I lost 120 lbs., can feel like walking through an emotional minefield. I scour the racks in search of a style that will mask my imperfections. I nervously take my stack into the dressing room, and ultimately eliminate one suit after another because in each one I see only those rolls of fat that kids so openly made fun of all those years ago.
There’s so much hype about panels offering “tummy control,” but frankly I’m still waiting for the suit with thigh control.
There are, fortunately, some gorgeous swimsuits out there that offer a decent amount of coverage for those of us who don’t want half of our booty hanging out.
I happen to like board shorts like those I wore in the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” video Rob and I made last summer.
You may know that the parent company of Soma is Chico’s, but did you know that they carry swimsuits that flatter most every figure? Don’t miss their “Miraclesuit Escape” one piece in Watermelon. It’s super cute and ultra slimming.
And finally, personal bias here, but I believe the vintage 1940s Hollywood bombshell look is especially flattering on those of us with more than a few curves. In my opinion, the best online source for vintage-look swimsuits is ModCloth.com. Who could resist the classic look of their “Beach Blanket Bingo” one-piece in red polka dots? Not me!
I thought I knew everything about what it feels like to go through life as a morbidly obese person, but then I watched an episode or two of the TLC’s reality show “My Big, Fat Fabulous Life.” On one episode the show’s star, Whitney Thore, goes swimsuit shopping as she prepares for a trip to the beach. Self-consciousness about her body size prevented her from swimming for more than 20 years, but she decided she’d had enough of that, and heads to the beach in her newly purchased bikini. Despite the haters and lookie-loo’s Whitney proves to us all that it isn’t just thin people who get to wear bathing suits. I think she looks awesome!
Even though those dressing rooms may have too many mirrors and bad lighting, we don’t need to look like Victoria’s Secret models before we head to the store to shop for a swimsuit. So pass the sunscreen and hand me a cold one, it’s time to buy a fabulous swimsuit so we can enjoy the summer, no matter our size!