Bikini, tankini, one-piece, skirt bottoms, swim shorts -- women have so many choices when it comes to bathing suits, and yet, few women actually enjoy wearing them. If you're a man and about to stop reading this post, I invite you to stick around. I'm sure women would love to hear how men feel about this sensitive topic, particularly as summer approaches and opportunities arise for jumping into a refreshing pool or ocean.
It's not the color, the design, the type or the shape of a bathing suit that bothers women. It's their body in that color, design, type or shape of bathing suit that bothers them. While men are comfortable and covered in loose-fitting, surfer style swim trunks, women -- at least those of us over 35 -- usually choose to avoid embarrassing body exposure by sitting on the sidelines in a cover-up.
Women in the U.S. are constantly subjected to the media's portrayal of the "perfect body." That image is unrealistic and in some cases, unhealthy. It's a size 0-4, with flat belly, big breasts, thin thighs and no cellulite. What I just described is a prepubescent body with unnaturally large breasts! Is that what men want? Whether you're at the pool or in the supermarket, look around and notice what real women's bodies look like. No two are exactly alike; most have a lot of curves, and a very small percentage wear less than a size 8 dress.
The problem with never wearing a bathing suit is that you miss out on one of the best exercises -- swimming. Swimming is a low impact exercise that positively affects your entire body. You feel weightless when you swim, but you're actually doing resistance training, which builds strength and increasing cardiovascular endurance, which burns calories. You can even pump up your workout by using water weights.
Here are 10 tips that can help you get your bathing suit groove back on:
1. Don't feel as if you need to wear a traditional bathing suit. Running shorts or tank tops with built-in bras are comfortable and light to wear in the water.
2. If you truly want to lose a few pounds, start a healthy eating and exercise program a couple of months before your vacation or pool debut. Even if you only lose a little, you'll feel better about yourself.
3. Look around -- you're not the only one with cellulite and a tummy. Embrace your womanhood.
4. Darker skin tones can hide a lot of flaws. Get some color first in the privacy of your own back yard or use a self-tanning cream.
5. When shopping for a bathing suit, take your time, bring a friend for support and try out all the new slimming features and fabrics.
6. Don't sit in front of the mirror and analyze your faults -- that only accentuates them in your mind. If you don't love your body for what it is, you're not ready to stand in front of a mirror in a bathing suit.
7. Wear a cover up when walking around and remove it when you're sunning or swimming.
8. Join a swimming class to get used to the idea of wearing a bathing suit on a regular basis.
9. Wear sandals with a little wedge to elongate the legs and polish your nails and toes a bright color to bring attention to other body parts.
10. Know that most every other woman is going through the same anxiety about her own body as you are. Maybe it's time we all move on to something more important in life.