Well, it’s here – the moment I’ve been dreading all summer. My annual quest for a bathing suit has officially begun.
I know it’s June. I know some of you bought your suits back in January. You’re probably wondering what rock I crawled out from under, and rightly so.
So I’ll tell you. My rock of choice is a ginormous box of chocolate chip cookies, the kind you get at ginormous discount warehouses in the “Self Pity” aisle. I’ve been nibbling my way through fear, sadness, humiliation and regret after realizing – once again – I’ll be wearing the same black skirted bathing suit this summer as I have for the past ten years.
Before you become awestruck with admiration, thinking I’ve maintained the same weight for a decade, let me set the record straight. In truth, I’ve basically gained an entire person. Prior to my current bathing costume (I don’t use that term lightly), I could wear suits that were “cute” and “not made to accommodate water buffalo”. Then I got pregnant and puffed up like a blowfish. I went from single to double-digit sizing faster than one could say “Lose the baby fat already – she’s ten!” (I didn’t).
The real reason I’ve worn the same bathing attire for a decade is because my suit has stretched along with me. It has no choice but to do so if it wants to remain on active duty. It knows that I (and, therefore, it) would be banned from the pool for life if it doesn’t defy physics and refrain from bursting like a popped balloon, striking fellow pool members with its shrapnel. Our community pool has a strict rule against that sort of horseplay. Like the good and loyal friend it is, my suit relents – so much, in fact, that what was once black is now a dark gray, and growing lighter in hue each year to the point that it will soon be transparent.
The reason I am filled with self-pity this spring is because this year was going to be different – a promise I make to myself every year, now that I think about it. Each January I proudly march through the bathing suit sections of my favorite department stores, imagining myself wearing this tankini or that bikini, looking like I stepped right out of the pages of Sports Illustrated, Swimsuit Edition. I even envision getting the call – this year, for the first time, they’ve decided to feature a forty-something woman on the cover. Because I look too good not to be proudly displayed on newsstands the world over. They want to feature me sporting the hottest hot pink bikini, with my badass belly ring and artfully drawn belly button sun tattoo. (Author’s note: This article was originally published in 2010; in 2019 Tyra Banks would become the first 45 year old to be featured on the cover. But that’s only because I wasn’t free that day.)
Fully believing this fantasy is achievable, I hop aboard the “Diet and Exercise Express” every January 1. Make that January 10 because it usually takes me that long to eat up all the holiday cookies and treats. Eh, well – actually, factor in the endless Oscar Nominee Marathons featuring buckets of buttery popcorn and a JuJy Fruit or two, and make that January 29. Okay February 15 because – well, candy filled hearts. I can’t help it if I have to bite into every one to determine which one I’ll consume (boxes, that is).
But between February 31 and March whatever, I’m all full of gung ho as I run, sweat, lift and Zumba my way into becoming a permanent fixture at the gym. Before long, everyone gets to know me by name and nobody dares to take my self-proclaimed locker. I even start coaching other slugs in how to get around the .10 mile track without stopping for a bagel and cappuccino half way through. And I do it with an abundance of excitement and glee – after all, the visual of me on the SISE is the best revenge I could hope to exact on ex-boyfriends who believed they were trading up when they ditched me. We’ll conveniently forget that they ditched me for actual swimsuit models. What’s past is past.
But then it all goes terribly wrong. My gym-going “gung-ho” becomes a mediocre “meh”, coinciding with the strategic appearance of double dark chocolate coconut Easter eggs aside Wawa registers. They really couldn’t have perfected their marketing strategy any better than if the Easter Bunny himself hopped in and shoved one of those dark, creamy treats in my mouth as I paid for my coffee and healthy breakfast beard consisting of a banana (giggle) and yogurt (gaffaw). Soon, I emerge from my exercise-induced psychosis and realize that despite all my best efforts, the scale hasn’t budged. After months (weeks)(okay, days)(possibly hours) of killing myself.
It. Has. Not. Budged.
And so I protest by denouncing the gym and all its buff trainers, balancing balls and Bosu challenges a big batch of BS. And I order up a dozen double-dark chocolate coconut eggs with a side of self-righteous justification. Sadly, this year was no different. And, like all years before it, dark chocolate denial takes over where determination left off.
As this summer approached, I tried to convince myself that I’d be content, once again, to waddle around the pool in the same suit I’ve worn since my daughter was born despite knowing full well that I bear a striking and somewhat horrifying resemblance to Ursula from The Little Mermaid. But I am confident with who I am (I think) and hope my fellow pool members will judge me for my intellect, wit and ability to execute a flawless forward-half-somersault-in-the-tuck-position (even if it does convert the deep end to a mere wading pool). And not judge me for my body size, or the fact that I appear to be one pretty voice away from ruling the sea.
But then one day as we were shopping for a suit for my ten-year-old, she commented that I always wear the same suit year after year, and she likes the fact that I never change.
“But wait!” my thinner inner mommy-slash-Sports Illustrated goddess screamed. “I want to change!”
With horror, I realize there will come a day when my daughter will see me through preteen eyes as I heave myself up off my boogie board. Yes, I still boogie board in my forties – sue me. But the real crime is she’ll realize there’s nothing but a thinning film of Lycra between me and marine mammal rescue. She’ll be forced to pretend she doesn’t know me, and that will break my heart – more so than if Nestle shut down its Toll House division.
I don’t want that. And besides – I’m not done yet! I’m forty-five and have not achieved half of my dreams! I want to be featured on the cover of a magazine, emerging from the surf looking fabulous ala Bo Derek in the movie, “10”. With beautiful music playing in the background, not the theme from “Jaws” or “McDonalds” (although I find it hard to believe anyone would be crooning “Doo doo doot doo doo – I’m loving it” as I emerge from the sea). I want to sport a belly button piercing that’s smaller than a tire rim! And a sun tattoo not drawn to scale! I want to turn heads, not stomachs, when I remove my cover up! I want to be the envy of all my fat, pasty friends! (I have none to speak of, but will certainly get some in order to live out this fantasy).
So this year, armed with determination, fearlessness and a boatload of diuretics, I’m setting out to find me a new suit. Despite the fact that, along with my granny panty lines, the new fall line is already showing.
Author’s note: This piece was originally published in June 2010.
Copyright 2010, Bla Bla Blog