Oh, hell’s bells. I have to buy new swimwear.
When I was a kid, this meant going with Mom to Sears or JC Penney and trying on a new bikini. No big deal. Bonus if we stopped for guri-guri on the way home. In Hawaii in the 1970s, we all wore bikinis because kids didn’t grow out of them as fast as one-piece suits, and compared to the nudist colony living up the beach from us in Kihei, my sister and I looked like Amish kids. Besides, wearing bikini bottoms under dresses allowed me to yell, “Face!” to boys who chanted, “I saw London, I saw France, I saw Lehua’s underpants!” when I climbed a mango tree or swung on the monkey bars at school.
Back in the day popping a young boy’s bubble with I’m wearing a bikini! Face! was the ultimate burn. Things were simpler.
In the 1980s, I started wearing sleek one piece suits, caring more that the shoulder straps stayed in place while boogie boarding than how high the leg openings were. Remember the French-cut suits that went as high as your hip? I had legs fo’days. Looking at old photos, my ultra-conservative daughter can’t believe her grandmother let me leave the house, let alone walk on public beaches. Wop her jaws when I told her Nana bought them for me.
In the 1990s, I started wearing saggy t-shirts with the sleeves cut off over conservative one piece suits while scuba diving. Around 2000, I switched to baggy shorts and tankinis under big shirts and started playing lifeguard more than swimming myself.
It was inevitable given my new body shape (the non-gym, non-volleyball playing, post-Mom with too many cookies version) that I’d have to fight a battle between what looked good poolside and what was practical to swim in. In the water, skirts and tankinis ride up and most shorts puff out, holding more water than a sponge. Swimsuits that allow you to swim also show every lump, bulge, and chocolate brownie you ever ate. It got to the point where vanity trumped swimming. I put on flirty swim dresses with burka-like cover-ups and stayed out of the water.
It was mainly kiddie pools anyway.
But after losing 40 lbs., all my old swimwear is too big. The family is planning a week-long seashore adventure and I don’t have a thing to wear. I want to swim in the ocean again—no more froofy poolside suits for me. But dang! While the lumps and bumps are smaller, there’s no way I can wear a normal swimsuit in public and not scar little children for life.
Right now, I’m planning on high-rise bike-style shorts under a dresskini top from Lands End–assuming it ships here in time. Plan B is a longer tankini top from Junonia. Plan C is a swim bra under a rash guard. All are a far cry from the sexy French-cuts I used to wear, but at least I’m back in the water.
PS: Of course, none of these photos are of me. Photos of me in swimwear? Are you crazy?