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The Agony Of Bathing Suit Shopping

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Unless you are 2013 Sports Illustrated covergirl Kate Upton, you are probably cringing at the thought of bathing suit shopping this year. Bathing suit shopping is agonizing. It is psychologically damaging and ego crushing (scientifically proven by the way). It's expensive. It's time consuming. Thinking of my experience last year makes me break out in a sweat -- and I didn't even try anything on (I know -- it doesn't take much these days).

Though many of us 50 and over women are more accepting of our bodies than we have ever been, the act of bathing suit shopping still gets to us. We hate looking at our pale, half-naked bodies under florescent lighting. Our brown spots become browner. Our veins stick out just a little bit more than they used to. Our tummies are not exactly flat. Our breasts are not exactly perky. Though we may be stoic, viewing our bodies in the soft lighting of our home bathrooms, before the full-length mirror under the harsh lights of a dressing room, even the best of us crumble. We tuck in our panties (many of us get along just fine in daily life without thongs), suck in our tummies and strain our necks to examine our thigh cellulite in suit after suit. Has anyone else felt like crying after trying on 15 suits, none of which comes even close to being acceptable? Who could blame us if we begin to have evil thoughts about the demise of models like Kate Upton?

And yet in the midst of all this misery, there is a reason to smile. Enter the new Fatkini (no, I did not name this, so no letters please). The Fatkini is this summer's uber-popular bikini for the plus sized gal (a collaboration between plus-size blogger Gabi Gregg and retailer Swimsuits For All). The Fatkini has me chanting both "You GO Girls!" and "You've GOT to be kidding" simultaneously, but personally it does nothing to get me to try on a bathing suit. I'm not quite sure the over 50 crowd is ready, willing or able to rock it in the Fatkini. What's a BA50 to do?

I have plans this year to spend more than a few summer days on the water, but despite having a drawer full of pilling suits with elastics that have seen better days, I do not have a plan to go bathing suit shopping. I just can't seem to find the energy. Besides, I figure I don't spend that much time exposed in my swim suit anyway. When at the pool, I'll continue to bring my towel to the edge as I go for a dip, and wrap up faster than you can say, "Marco Polo." When at the beach, I will run into the water only on an emergency basis (you all know what that means) distracting my friends as I run from beach to water (no one's favorite view) with food and drink ("Who wants a cookie?"). And there is no way I am walking down the beach in just my bathing suit looking for sea glass, and I am not playing beach volleyball dressed as an Olympic athlete.

I've decided that what I need is an awesome coverup. I'm gonna buy it, and I'm not gonna take it off. Just thinking about shopping for a "coverup" makes me happy. I found a great one online (so painless) -- SPF 50, long sleeves, covers the butt. Coverups have happy names like Tunics, Caftans, T-shirt dresses. There is no kind of coverup that ends in "ini." They come in sizes like "one size fits all." They hide the brown spots. They cover sagging arms and bra bulge. They come in bright colors, lovely fabrics and long sleeves. Some coverups you don't even have to take off to go in the water (are those skirts that CYA the best?) Coverups are Sooooo not depressing!

Even Kate Upton had a great coverup on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (albeit a coverup appropriate for Antarctica, and the breasts of approximately the same size.)  And I just might splurge on a great pair of sandals (though to be honest, I am not comfortable in that kind of thong either) and a great beach hat too. No one feels fat shoe and hat shopping.

Disclaimer: This fashion advice is given by one who, by her own admission, is shopping impaired and has been known to buy bras and underwear at Costco. That disclaimer is just another way to cover my ass.

Read more from Better After 50:
Summer Fashion: Sexy and Hip Over 50
Coming To Grips With Big Hips
Facing the World With A Naked Face
OMG We Look 5 Pounds Thinner