Before I headed to the mall for the annual sacrificing of my self-esteem, I consulted my trusted periodical, You’re Kidding Me, Right? If you haven’t heard of it, this is Cosmopolitan’s older sister magazine published specifically for the fortyish crowd. Only in this publication, fashion advice has succumbed to sternly issued warnings designed to keep readers from being captured, detained and escorted to assisted-living.
I found the article I was looking for nestled between an ad for urinary incontinence surgery and an exposé on botched Botox injections. Ah, growing old.
“Rules for Buying a Bathing Suit If You’re Over Forty” (It is not clear whether they mean the age or the size, but I read on)
1. Back.Away.From.The.Bikinis. This first “rule” made me laugh out loud because it was tantamount to warning me not to lay across a six lane highway or swim with sharks and a gashing leg wound. Don’t wear a bikini? HAH! I haven’t sported a two-piece since I was two and bulging bellies were considered cute, not fodder for fashion police. I remember the days when one-pieces were prolific and bikinis were reserved for only those people who ate nothing but cardboard. When bikinis and two-pieces were not one in the same. Back then, women were honest about their figures with no shame involved. It was called “discretion”, and not only did women have it but the industry backed us up by making suits – both one- and two-pieces – that all of us could fit in. Look at two-pieces from the 50’s – the tops covered entire boobies, booby side bulge, back flab, cleavage blubber and everything in between. Bikini bottoms went from the waist all the way down and over upper thigh bulge. What’s not to love about that?
Today, bikinis are the size cocktail napkins, and finding a tankini or a one piece after January is as easy as finding a parking space at the shore in July. And if you do find something to cover you up, be prepared that it’s going to be as ugly as ugly can get – we’re talking 80’s aerobic wear meets bouncy house. I guess the implication here is that we all should be so teeny as to be able to shove all our body parts into these tiny panels of flimsy fabric, or – what? The bathing suit industry has left us girls and women of substance with no fashionable alternatives. Either go small, stay home or dress like a von Trappe child after Maria tore down the drapes.
The industry claims that bathing suit sizes have been reduced due to the rising cost of bathing suit fabric, but I think they’re just a bunch of dirty old perverts. As the saying goes, you can’t eat your cake and wear your bikini too, so otherwise discreet women are left to decide whether to bare those body parts or cover them up with something that attracts yellow jackets. It’s a lose-lose for us, not to mention those around us. The article strongly urged us older gals in particular not to be fooled by the industry and its bikini-loving come-hithers, even if we live at the gym 25/8 and exist on a diet of gerbil food. The saying goes, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Because, “what goes up, must come down”. Gravity rules at this age, and some things like sagging stomach skin and thigh jiggles are just not meant to be seen by anyone. Anyone. So, long-in-the-tooth friends, put down the cocktail napkin and if you insist on wearing a bikini, or at least try to find one where the waistband is roughly neck-high. Good luck with that.
2. “Real Women” beachwear has been designed for Real Women. Ha! What they don’t tell you is that the “Real Women” used as models to measure this line are size triple-zero twenty year olds kept in cages like young, veal-bound calves so they won’t develop any muscle or take ill-fated midnight runs to Mickey D’s for double quarter pounders and super-size-me fries. Really? My idea of a Real Woman suit is one that could be stretched comfortably across I-95 and stop speeding get-away cars as deftly as they can belly fat, as both have the capacity to travel at the same velocity. Look for suits that come with detachable skirts which, when removed, can double as beach cabanas.
3. It is wise to avoid horizontal stripes or suites in light colors. Or suits that have the word “Phat” printed anywhere on them. Thanks, I wasn’t sure about that one.
4. Darker colors that cover trouble spots are strongly urged. “Excuse me, Miss – does this come in anything darker than black?”
5. Some suits are made from fabric that promises to tone your tummy. What they don’t tell you is that it will only shift that tummy it to your neck, upper thighs or (if you’re lucky) both.
After reading these hints, it became clear to me that the only beach wear appropriate for me is a full-length wet suit. Since our mall didn’t carry them, I feared I may be reduced to trying on cocktail napkins instead and seeing if I could break the record for unarmed mall evacuation.
That is perhaps one reason I put this off till June.
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