Springtime springs universal nightmare on women everywhere
Finding a swimsuit is a traumatic springtime ritual
Aw, Memorial weekend. The grass is green, the barbeque is lit, the beer is bought, and THE POOL OPENS! This dreaded annual rite of passage sends ice flowing through the veins of every woman I know. Women who are capable of kicking ass in a Fortune 100 company board room become reduced to sniveling basket-cases faced with the daunting task of buying a swim suit.
There are several reasons buying a swimsuit is so traumatic, and I will highlight a few. First I must collect myself, because I just experienced a horrible flashback to the summer of 2002. My first daughter was born in June, and I had to find a suit for the duration of the summer. That was a very, very bad time in my life, and I really could do with never revisiting it ever again. I mistakenly believed that my post-baby boobs would be a focal point, and my massive saggy gut would not be noticeable in a bikini. Also, after you have a baby, you feel really skinny compared to what you looked like in the moments prior to giving birth, so you think you look a lot better than you actually do. The truth is, you do look a lot better relative to being 9 months pregnant, but not as a member of the general population. Hot shame and maroon skin accompany my face any time I am confronted with a photo from that summer, usually at family gatherings. The just-given-birth mom has it 10 times worse in the bathing suit department than the average woman, who has it pretty terrible anyway.
The following are trauma-inducing facets of buying a swimsuit.
1) The lighting. Good god the lighting. Why do all stores think it is a sound business decision to provide fluorescent lighting in their dressing rooms? It is absolutely the worst. In addition to giving one’s skin a ghostly pallor, it exposes every flaw on one’s body, and triplicates it. I literally gasp when I go into the bathroom at Target to wash my hands. I always look like a monster, and you do too. Now stand under those lights in the undressed state, and it is horrifying to behold.
2) The mirrors. My friends and I have often wondered why stores don’t have trick mirrors to sell swimsuits, like the one Elaine encountered on Seinfeld when she purchased the black dress that she looked magnificent in at the store, but when she saw herself in the mirror at home, she looked hideous. That is what they need in dressing rooms for swim suits. Deceptive, sure, but it would cushion the blow a bit. What we are blissfully ignorant of will not hurt us. Instead, it seems that they install “super mirrors” in these rooms that amplify every pore on my body. The mirrors magically make cellulite appear where you were quite certain there was none. You leave defeated and depressed.
3) The sizes. For reasons unbeknownst to me, bathing suit sizes do not correspond to your clothing sizes. I have seen 100 pound high school girls searching the racks for a large or extra large when clearly they are a size 00. What is a regular size person to do when a skinny teenager needs a large? If you are talking size 2, 4, 6 etc, count on having to go up at least 2 and possibly 3 sizes for a swimsuit. Nothing else is sized like that. Underwear, tops, jeans…. I usually wear roughly the same size, but when I go get a suit, I have to mentally prepare for jumping several sizes up. It is very demoralizing.
4) The price. Here is the insult to injury. I don’t know what the hell has happened in the last 10 years, but you are going to spend around $100 for a decent suit. I am especially annoyed by the “mix and match” top and bottom marketing. ”Only $34.99 a piece” the ads herald. Now that is for just the top or just the bottom. Can someone explain to me why the smallest amount of material in my wardrobe cost the most? It is a complete bullshit racket, and as usual women get screwed. Men can pick up trunks for $15-50 dollars, and those trunks consist of twenty times more material than my suit. I am certain that it was not always this way. I remember in college I could buy a suit (with the top and bottom not separately sold) for $29. I realize the massive increase in breast augmentation has prompted the “mix and match” era, because tiny size 2 women need an XXXL to accommodate their disproportionate racks, so largely it is our fault, as a gender. That does not make it easier to swallow.
So ladies, if you already have your suit for the season, congratulations. For the rest of you unfortunate souls, I wish you godspeed on your perilous journey.