Bathing suits have one big thing in common with snakes, spiders and the IRS. Sensible people fear them.
By sensible people, I mean me.
I figure the fear is primal and it serves to keep me safe. Slithery things can harm us, even kill us. The IRS can do the same, emotionally and fiscally speaking. Just to be clear, the IRS does not have an exclusive lock on this: Canada Revenue and all the other tax bureaucrats around the world all enjoy – yes, I believe that is the correct verb – a similar capacity to inspire terror.
Why then does the act of donning a bathing suit provoke panic and palpitations? Because even if it’s not an itsby-bitsy, teeny-tiny yellow polka dot bikini, wearing a bathing suit still feels like wearing skimpy underwear. My name is not Miley, going out in public in skimpy underwear is not the world’s easiest thing to carry off with a confident smile and, somehow, it gets harder with age. I do not wish to be responsible for scaring the younger generation off the notion of procreation.
So how does someone who is slightly past her best before date ever just casually don a bathing suit? Dunno. I’m definitely not the one to answer that. I’ve successfully avoided owning a bathing suit for nearly twenty years. But, now that we have this place at the beach, I’m going to try to make 2014 the year I get over myself.
I’m figuring it starts with adopting the right attitude. Life is short. Seize the day. Life is never perfect and I don’t have to be either. Stop comparing yourself. Enjoy the occasional cookie, just don’t devour the whole batch.
Stay get physically active and strong. Remember that looking good is not about age nor about a number on the scale. It is a reflection of character, confidence, health and engagement with life. Yes, I know. That last sentiment is a dead giveaway I’m no longer 25 and haven’t been for ….awhile. ‘Cause at 25, looking good is just about looking good.
It’s all very sensible advice. I hope it eventually filters down from my head and feels true in the pit of my stomach.
Then it will be a simple matter of finding the right bathing suit. Thank heavens for the web which allows shopping from the privacy of your own home. Googling ”bathing suits for Women 40+,” I found tons, including an article in Oprah Magazine on bathing suits that won’t make you look old. That seemed kinda funny to me, because I thought Oprah’s philosophy was that we should all accept and love ourselves for who we are. It seems to imply looking old is a fate to be avoided and perhaps most of us would agree. But what if you are old? What should you look like? Either this is a mixed message or it’s marketing, tapping into women’s insecurity about aging so Oprah can be there to reassure us at $5.95 an issue + ad revenue. But I digress.
Googling ”bathing suits for Women 40+, I found these possibilities at cyberswim.com. Along with various bricks and mortar retailers, cyberswim.com carries a whole line of bathing suits called Miraclesuits, cleverly designed to make you ”look 10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds.” So while Oprah doesn’t want you to look old, Miraclesuits don’t want you to look tubby. Miraclesuits promise to accentuate the positives and distract from the problem bits, magically transforming a big ass into an asset and thunder thighs into ”curves.” I might even be willing to spring $150 for a bathing suit that can do that but I’m not entirely convinced anything short of two years with a personal trainer actually will.
Even with a $150 Miraclesuit, I don’t think a bathing suit and I are ever going to enjoy a chummy, comfortable, at ease with each other kind of relationship. I see myself still pulling an oversized shirt or tee shirt on over top. Or perhaps this will be the year I will invest in a stylish beach cover up, like this slightly exotic Moroccan-style tunic. This looks like an elegant solution, allowing one middle aged female to overcome her totally rational fear of bathing suits, gently, slowly, inch by inch (though I’d have more confidence if the model had greying hair and bifocals too).
Final thought: my mom used to tell me is that everyone else is too worried about how they look to worry about how you look. She was right, as usual. Then she’d say, ”and if they are judgmental, they aren’t worth knowing anyway.”
Right again, Mom.
But I’m still getting a nice cover up to take to the beach.