Saturday, April 28, 2007

Swimsuit Shopping

I bet few women would disagree with me when I say that shopping for a swimsuit is just a step above giving birth on the painful, "PLEASE, MAKE THIS BE OVER!" scale. But at least when you have a baby, you get something wonderful, miraculous and lasting out of it. When you buy a swimsuit, you get an expensive piece of nylon fabric that clings to your body, and in my case, clings to the part of my body that has been stretched beyond recognition four times. I have the marks to prove it!

When you buy a swimsuit, it may actually look OK, but it doesn't like you much, the way it bulges right there and gapes right there, or makes you look six month pregnant. You don't like it either. Not one bit, but what choice do you have? If you want to take your kids to the pool--a ritualistic, normal activity to do in the summer--you've gotta suck it up (or in) and put on the suit.

There's only a month left until the outdoor pool opens in my city, and and I am therefore filled with anxiety about what I will wear to the pool. Anxiety may actually be the wrong word. Let's think again. How about fear, worry, trepidation, nausea or panic? I think of those words and more when I think about putting on that close-fitting nylon fabric and walking out in public.

Well, one thing's for sure. I refuse to wear that chartreuse tankini I bought from the Lands End catalog three summers ago. I thought that buying an extremely bright (BLING!) suit would hide my "anxiety zones" (that's what they call them in the catalog). No, they just call attention to ME (BLING!) and all my anxiety zones. The only good thing about that suit? Wherever I am at the pool, my kids can find me. Just look for the lady in the neon lime suit with pink squigglies in it. This year I'm going to get navy blue so my kids can't find me. Why DO I want them to find me anyway? What was I thinking?

Ok, so I thought about getting a new suit, one that would not be detectable from outer space. I looked through the catalog, and saw some really cute suits that might look OK on me. I did the first painful part: measuring. I got out my trusty tape measure and started--bust, waist, hips and torso. This is supposed to help you determine the correct size, IF your body is normally proportioned. If your body is not normally proportioned, then you feel like a freakazoid and have to call the friendly, reliable people at Lands End to ask them what size to order if you have three measurements that equal three different sizes.

I usually like to talk to the folks at Lands End. They are friendly, and I love hearing that midwestern accent. It reminds me of the six years when I lived in Wiscaaaaansin. So, when I called, a nice, competent lady answered the phone. She didn't make me feel freakish when I told her that my measurements added up to three different sizes. But she did make me tell her what they were, and that was NOT so pleasant. Then she said, "Hmm, yes this is a praaablem. Let me caaaall a sizing specialist to see what'll work here." (Great, my body is so abnormal that I have to have a sizing specialist.)

She put me on hold. I starting ironing a shirt for a bit and then she came back. "Maaaaam," she said. "I just spoke to our sizing specialist and she thought you should be a blank blank on top and a blank on the baaaaattom."

"Well, what if I don't want a tankini, what if I want a one piece?" I asked, not really wanting to hear the answer.

"I'd say, then, that you should praaaaaabably stick with the tankini so you don't have to worry about that praaaaaaablem."

"OK, you've been quite helpful. Thanks. I'm going to think about what to do now," I told her.

"No praaaaalem. Thanks for caaaaaalling Lands End. You have a nice day now." She hung up.

I flipped through the catalog some more. Why does this have to be so incredibly difficult? It might be easier to wear neon lime for another year. I consider this for a bit. Is six months too long to make a decision? Maybe my anxiety zone won't be an anxiety zone anymore if I wait. Or. . . .what if I pay $80 for a swimsuit that fits now, but won't if I lose more weight? Hmmmm, unlikely.

I also thought that maybe Lands End isn't "swimsuit headquarters" like they claim and maybe some other place would be comparable. So I spent some time browsing. Too much time. Most of the choices out there that aren't $120 a suit are either too small to see without a microscope or tents that come half way down your thigh. Neither one will do for me.

So I'm back to the drawing board. The possibilities are mind boggling. Tankini, one piece, halter neck, soft cup bra, shelf bra, X-back, square neck, swim mini, brief, #1 leg length or #2, etc. Way too much for me to process, let along make any kind of decision before the city pool opens up in a month.

Good luck, comrades with stretch marks, finding something to wear to the pool. May your experience be more successful than mine was!

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