The Philadelphia Inquirer
South Jersey Commentary
Posted on Mon, Jun. 28, 2004
ITíS THE SUMMER NIGHTMARE
By Kathryn Quigley
Along with leg waxing and hearing a guy say, "I need space," bathing-suit shopping ranks right up there on the list of Painful Times for Women. I know. I just spent a torturous afternoon in the dressing rooms of the Deptford Mall looking for swimwear.
I had been dieting and sort of exercising. My waist squish seemed, well, less squishy.
So I took the plunge and went shopping. Here was my first thought: "Yipes! When did bathing suits begin to cost $86 each?"
Here was my second thought, upon donning an $86 bathing suit: "AIIIEE! Whose body is that, and why is it attached to my head?"
The first suit made me look like an apple. No waist. Just my chest and stomach. Round, round, round. Might as well just roll me down the hill until I reach the bottom.
The second suit defined my bosom, but to the degree that it might frighten the children. Memo to swimwear designers: I am not in a James Bond movie. Just lounging beside the pool at my apartment complex.
Most of the bathing suits come with tags and charts, telling me which fault a particular suit will correct. But first, I must determine if I am a pear, a rectangle or an oval.
As previously mentioned, I was feeling quite oval-like in that one particular suit. Perhaps that was the problem. I was a round person in a square suit!
And what is with the suits with skirts? Now, I don't intend to flash my butt to the entire beach in a thong, but no way am I wearing a suit with a skirt.
Now that I am in my 30s, I must admit that I did not appreciate myself when I was in my 20s. Like most every other woman, I thought I was too fat. This was when I was a size 6.
This leads me to say something to all you 20-something women: I command you to go put on your bikinis! Immediately! No, I don't care that you haven't shaved your legs. Now stand in front of the mirror and say, "I look good!" Because you do.
My friends are young, older (not old), short, tall, thin, not so thin, and everything in between. Each has her assets and flaws. Like me, almost all of them hate bathing-suit shopping. Each copes in a different way.
My friend Lisa, who is 39, refuses to wear a bathing suit. She puts on shorts and a tank top at the beach.
Judy, who is very, very pale, thought a tan would make her look better in a bathing suit. So Judy, who is 37, got one of those spray-on tans. It turned her skin yellow. For a whole week, she looked like a Simpsons cartoon character. My friend Meghan has another method for buying a bathing suit. She goes to a store and looks at suits. She is outraged at their cost. She leaves. Sometime later, she goes back, hopefully when the suits are on sale. Then she becomes outraged that the suit doesn't seem to fit.
Meghan, who is 24, said the latest object of outrage was the "tankini." This two-piece suit is supposed to be flattering and fit better.
"But they don't," Meghan said. "They just squish everything, and then it hangs out of the bathing suit and it looks worse!"
Her solution? A discount clothing store where she got a suit that didn't cost too much and "fit well enough."
I found one, too. It is blue and black. Thankfully, it does not make me look like a bruise or a plum.
Or, more important, an apple.
Kathryn Quigley is an assistant professor in the journalism department at Rowan University in Glassboro.