When Shopping Turns to Torture

Friday night I participated in one of the most traumatizing shopping rituals known to womankind.  I went swimsuit shopping.

Nothing can destroy your self-esteem like fluorescent lights and a three-way mirror.  I think I’m photophobic and hydrophobic now.

I hit up two department stores and my true love, Target.  Although most of Target’s swimwear is made for girls barely through puberty, they do have a line of swimsuits for the more mature and lumpy.  It’s mostly made of spanx and sucks your fat in so you look smooth and shiny, but we all know the fat goes somewhere.  Unfortunately it’s up or down.  Either my cup runneth over or my legs looked like sausage links, and I’m not talking the breakfast sausage kind.  I did find a really cute swim skirt in Target.  It had a ruffle and everything, but I left it behind.  Unless I move to Europe, what good is a bottom without a top?

I settled on JCPenny.  They had great sales on swimwear and lots of options. Did I mention I brought my daughter along?  She is the voice of truth, a really loud, sometimes shrill voice.  She tells it like she sees it and doesn’t feel the need to temper her words with grace when she’s critiquing my backside.   I thought a second opinion never hurts, but that was two hundred swimsuits ago.  I’m nearly bleeding people!

I started by roaming the racks and plucking every piece I thought was cute.  After round one, a random shopper burst into my fitting room while I was sans suit.  She apologized profusely, and while I know I should have been embarrassed, it didn’t even phase me.  That’s what happens after you try on fifty ill-fitting swimsuits.  You go numb.

Numb, but not blind.  It’s unfortunate, because, I have enough stretch marks to span the distance between New York and Texas.  About six weeks after I gave birth to one of my kids (I can’t remember which one), I was laying on the table while a dermatologist cut a questionable mole out of my tummy.  Since my mid-section was on display, I thought I’d take the opportunity to remedy the deep grooves in my skin.

“Doctor, how can I get rid of my stretch marks?”  I asked.

“Stop having babies.”

I’m glad I was paying for more than his stellar advice.

Round two:  I quit looking for cute and grabbed everything in my size.  I narrowed my choice down to two bottoms, but I was still searching for a top.  My expectations are high.  I want full support and enough coverage to keep my parts from popping out.  It’s one thing to wear a flimsy patch of fabric held together with one plastic clip when you’re lounging poolside absorbing sunshine.  It’s totally another when you are swimming with children.  They are like sharks in a feeding frenzy.  No sooner do I submerge myself and I’m lugging two kids across the deep end while they are trying their best to drown me.  Those kind of water sports require full coverage and stainless steel fasteners with iron reinforcement.  No mammy-pamsy swimwear will do.

I finally found two tops to match my two bottoms, but they didn’t have my size.  I appreciate buying a swimsuit in two pieces, because there are more options and you can customize your size.  That’s a nice way of saying you can buy the parachute pants if you need them, and maybe some of us need them.  My finger is most definitely pointing at me and not you.  So, I tried sizing up and down on the top, but it wasn’t working.  On a desperate whim I grabbed a top that I never (this side of Tahiti) would have tried on.  When I got all the fasteners secure, my daughter daughter said, “Mom, you look beautiful.  Almost like a teenager.”

Although I’ve never seen a teenager wear a swimskirt, I took the compliment and the swimsuit.

Hopefully it will be a good long time before I must subject myself to such extreme torture again.  Now I just have to muster the courage to wear the thing in public.  Makes the fluorescent lights seem not so bad.

My husband naively thought I was the only woman who had deep, dark self-image problems when it came to swimsuits.  Ha!  Help him understand I am not so alone.

Comment away!


24 thoughts on “When Shopping Turns to Torture

  1. Pingback: Best of 2012 | the domestic fringe

  2. jme

    Personally – I got a *little* boring when I got older – but my tip to share is this: figure out what your cut is. I used to DREAD the suit season – no more.

    Which shapes/hemlines and pleat configuration works best for your body- and stick with it….Because in the end- no different pattern/colr/fabric texture will fix it. I know what shirt shape/neckline and swimsuit and pants work best on me- and I dont even waste time anymore in the dressing room. Just up/down a size, and done!!

    Good luck lady-friends!

  3. mslorretty

    Good rule of thumb is to check out Lands End at the end of the season….apparently the New England crowd needs heavy-duty fasteners too! And CHEAP!!! I got the two piece swim top and skirted bottom with enough spandex to put Lady GaGa in a vienna sausage can! It’s a beautiful thing…and so is this post! Thanks for the huge Ha Ha tonight!

    Lorretta at Dancing on the Dash

  4. Redemption's Beauty

    You are hilarious. I read your post on skinny jeans while laying in bed checking emails on my phone. Lisa-Jo posted it on Facebook so I clicked over and then read this one too. You’ve had me wiping tears from my eyes, bent over holding my stomach. It’s good to laugh that hard. Thank you.

  5. Rachel

    Oh honey… I feel your pain. Thankful that you let us laugh WITH you – because Lord knows those would be genuine tears of empathy otherwise.

    I am still recovering from the last time I brought my 6-year old shopping with me, and it wasn’t even SWIMSUITS. Apparently cellulite is fair game no matter the garment.

    Thanks for the solidarity!

  6. Pingback: The Skinny on The Jeans « the domestic fringe

  7. Pingback: Urban Word Wednesday: Foo Foo Drink – Natalie Hartford

  8. berryprose

    I love it. Tell your hubby that ALL women have these issues. It’s perfectly normal!! I think someone needs to redesign the mirrors and the lights. WHY is it a necessity that the lights in dressing rooms make you look like you have jaundice? Is it really necessary? I love this post!

  9. Bonnie @minimestyle.com

    I’m so glad you commented on my blog today so I could find yours in return! You are absolutely hilarious, and I empathize with everything in this post! Glad you were able to find a swimsuit that worked. 🙂

  10. Missindeedy

    Verbal gold right here: “mature and lumpy”. Yes, ma’am! Yes. And, I’ve been known to get a bit hormotional when shopping for suits, myself! So very glad to hear you made it out alive and found one, to boot!

  11. Deanna

    Is your daughter your favorite after that compliment? 🙂 I have not been swimsuit shopping in forever either. Heck, I have not bought new clothes in forever!! I should conquer my fears…

  12. Sara

    I hate swimsuit shopping. For a couple of years I just wore my husband’s old trunks and a spandex cami. Last year I found a tank suit top and some swim shorts to match that were in the women’s section! 🙂 My husband told me I looked like a soccer mom. Oh well…at least nothing’s popping out!

  13. Jennilem

    Oh my heavens! You brave woman. I found two swimsuits last year that are kid-friendly and borderline attractive. I will wear them until they become rags before I go shopping again.

  14. omega57

    And I asked myself just last week…Just who are the store / chain buyers? Do I really want an orange ruffle around my bottom that needs no extras? And why are there so many bottom and tops that are no where near complementary sizes!? Why are there 20 brown bottoms in size 6 and only 4 brown tops in size 18?? Nice that you found something your daughter approves of. So important is you are going to show up at the same place at the same time. 🙂

  15. Natalie Hartford

    I hear ya!
    I have compared swimsuit shopping to wedding dress shopping. It’ll be the suits you look at on the rack and go “OMG…no…seriously?!?! I don’t think so…” that will actually look great!

  16. quantumphysica

    I totally understand you… Swimsuit shopping is horrible…
    I never find anything in my size that doesn’t make me look like either a nun or an overweight sport swimmer… xD


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