I do not like to shop… But I especially dislike shopping for swimsuits. I know, you’re sitting there thinking, “I don’t know what she’s talking about, I LOVE shopping for swimsuits!” But really, I would venture to guess that just about every women hates to shop for swimsuits. I know, I know, there are many women out there with tiny, perfect bodies, small waists, thin thighs, no muffin-tops, etc… and THOSE women must like shopping for swimsuits, right? I bet not, and here’s why: women are cruel to their own bodies. I”m not necessarily talking about physically cruel (although I have been plenty cruel to mine.) I’m talking about mentally and emotionally. We bully our own bodies worse than we could ever dream of bullying someone else.
Okay, I’m making an assumption that other women naturally think the way I do… and that really isn’t fair. So I’ll just narrow this to myself: I bully my body with all the negative thoughts that swarm my mind, specifically directed at it… my precious body. Swimsuit shopping gives me the unique opportunity to nitpick parts of my body that normally aren’t even seen. Butt, upper arms, belly, inner thighs… they are all up for criticism in the dreaded swimsuit.
I was at a family event this past weekend for the 4th of July and one of my dear, sweet relatives made a comment about how she would not be going into the lake because she doesn’t feel comfortable in her swimsuit. “I just need to lose a few pounds,” she said. Noooo!!! It’s a beautiful day! It’s the 4th of July! Don’t miss it because you’re embarrassed about how your body looks! I wanted to shake her and say, “Put on your damn swimsuit for the love of Christmas!”
I have had the same swimsuit for something like five years. It’s a one-piece suit made by Spanx (yeah, you know what those are). I love the Spanx suit, but it was starting to look a little worn with age. I have purchased some different suits during the last five years, but have never really had the guts to wear anything other than the safe, Spanx suit that I know will suck in my belly and cover all the appropriate lumpy areas. But I went on a cruise earlier in the year and I decided it was finally time to get a new suit.
A few weeks prior to the cruise, I took an obligatory stroll around the swimsuit section at Target. Who’s done that before and actually left the store feeling good about yourself? Every suit they have on display in the front aisle is a teeny, tiny, itty, bitty bikini. If you want to look at the real suits, the ones that someone over the age of 14 might actually wear, you have to go all the way to back wall where they have ONE rack of suits over size 10. And you’ll be lucky to find one there either. Trust me, I’ve looked.
So I knew that I would have to look online if I was going to find anything acceptable. Enter the power of Facebook marketing. Facebook is one smart cookie. It knows A LOT about me… and you… and pretty much everyone (Big Brother is watching you!) It has something called an algorithm (remember that computer science class in high school??) that tabulates your likes and dislikes and figures out what you want to see. Facebook knows that I like body positive pages and that I tend to shop for plus-sized clothing and it suggested to me SwimsuitsForAll.com.
I did some research, enough to know it wasn’t a scam, and decided this was where I was going to purchase my suit. The swimsuits were reasonably priced, not super cheap but not overly expensive (I had gone to the Lane Bryant site first… holy moly are those expensive!) The site allowed me to choose different sizes for my top and bottom (yes, I purchased a bikini and I’ll get to that in just a bit). I wear a size 18, so rather than try to squeeze my butt into an XL at Target, which is essentially like a size 14, I was happy to see that, not only was my size available, but it was not the largest size they offer. In fact, they offered plenty of sizes even larger than mine.
My order consisted of two bikinis and a one-piece swimsuit. Note, I have not worn a bikini since I weighed 145 lbs and was starving to death in the depths of eating disorder hell. But, there is this new thing called a high-waist bikini bottom that might be the most flattering suit around, next to the one-piece. I like all three of the suits I got, but my favorite is a green and blue, polka dot, high-waist bikini. It is flattering, it covers my child bearing, stretch-marked belly, and most importantly, IT FITS ME! I don’t look like a stuffed sausage in this suit… It’s a miracle!
No, it isn’t a miracle, it’s just a welcomed sign of changing times. We (meaning us bigger gals) now have more options for where we purchase our clothing. It’s time to stop body shaming and nitpicking. It’s time to stop mentally bashing yourself for not having skinny thighs or a flat tummy. It’s time to buy a swimsuit that actually fits and wear it with pride, because your body is beautiful, just the way it is! I’d take today’s body over my starving, 145 pound body any day… and that feeling is fabulous!