Over the years, I have come to hate summer. The childhood excitement of the carefree days of the season have been replaced with a sense of dread knowing someone is going to force me to participate in the dreaded summertime ritual of strapping myself into an unattractive torture device and enduring an eight-hour hot flash. Otherwise known as going to the beach.
I have tried my best to find an attractive and comfortable swimsuit but, as a plus-size woman, this seems to be as elusive as the proverbial unicorn. I have spent thousands of dollars seeking this Spandex Holy Grail, but usually end up, at best, sorely disappointed and, at worst, with internal organ damage.
According to statistics, at size 16, I am one size larger than the average American woman. Apparently, the bathing suit industry has chosen to ignore this little factoid and instead panders to those who sport the enviable "thigh gap." The only way I can achieve said "thigh gap" is to lie on my back and spread-eagle my legs which, as my personal experiences have shown, is not exactly socially acceptable.
Here are some of my recent experiences with swimsuits:
The "Wonder" Suit
This swimsuit promised to whittle away inches from my waist and provide extra support for my ample figure. Unbeknownst to me, "extra support" means industrial strength Lycra that rearranges your innards and not a team of therapists helping you deal with the trauma of waddling around half-naked in public. It also does not include a 1-800 number to call when your small intestines pop out of the bottom.
I believe the "wonder" of this suit is that you are able to squeeze your body into at all. I sat on the sand convinced it would break away at any moment and slingshot me up over the para-gliders. Ultimately, I passed out because I couldn't breathe but avoided the humiliation of having to walk naked back to my chair after being catapulted into the sea.
The Halter Swimsuit
Like most plus-size women, I need extra support in the ta-ta region. The Halter Swimsuit promised extra lift with a little cleavage to boot. The actual result was mile-long cleavage that resembled a butt-crack and a visit to the chiropractor for a pinched nerve in my neck. Hoisting 51-year-old size DD breasts beyond their natural boundaries and wrapping a cord attached to them around your neck is apparently not good for your spinal health.
The Corset Swimsuit
The corset has been known for centuries for its powers to transform the pudgy middle to sultry sexiness, so I decided to give the swimsuit version a try. The result was less than sexy unless, of course, you find vertical fat rolls preferable to the standard horizontal kind. More painful than looking like a human life jacket were the supportive bones in the suit, which bent when I sat down. The bones dug into my flesh and I felt at any moment they would break through resulting in a "boob kebob." Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on my feet that day.
The "Tankini" Swimsuit
Some women look absolutely darling in a tankini, but because I am apple-shaped, there was more truth to the name of this suit than I care to admit: TANK! And there was no "-ini," which implies something small and cute. It was more like Tank-a-Saurus, which is large and scary.
I thought a swimdress would be a viable option as long as it did not come to my knees and make me look like Whistler's Mother on a beach chair. Even though it was a little uncomfortable knowing I had a bolt of fabric strapped on while I strolled among the itty-bitty bikinis, I did my best to not let it bother me. All was well until I took a dip in the ocean and my swimdress began to float all around me. I looked like I was in a deflated leopard-print raft AND all my body parts I had tried so desperately to hide were in full view of the nearby snorkelers. Awkward.
I have yet to find the perfect swimsuit and feel, perhaps, it is not meant to be after all. I don't like being hot or sweaty so why put myself through this torture for something I don't like anyway? I think the next time the family decides to hit the beach, I will take the $300 I would have spent on a swimsuit and treat myself to a day at the spa.
Now THAT sounds comfortable!