Like most of the women I know, I hate shopping for a new swimsuit. All the usual dressing room angst combined with the jaw-dropping price tags on these skimpy fabric swatches help to keep me far away from the swimwear section IRL and online. But today a friend asked me to go with her to the pool where she recently became a member. “Sure, I’d love to,” I said, but only after hanging up with her did I realize I hadn’t shopped for a swimsuit in over two years! Shit. The ones I wear in the hot tub are destroyed; I have a couple I used to wear for swimming laps but they are inherently hideous. I tried on some old tankinis and quickly realized this style does me no favors. Still rummaging, I found a couple of orphaned bits of lycra at the bottom of the drawer -- an Eres bikini I had bought several years ago on deep, deep discount. I have only ever been brave enough to wear this in my backyard, but I tried it on anyway. It was pretty much how I remembered it. No padded bra, no shaping underwires, no girdle-strength fabric to hold in the unwieldy parts. It’s a truth in advertising kind of suit – no gimmicks, just covers up what needs covering and does so in an understated way without covering up or revealing too much.
“Wear that one,” said Hubby who was getting ready for work while I was madly auditioning swimsuits. I countered with a few arguments, but ultimately picked this suit to wear to the pool. Be brave, I told myself, plus my friend assured me “no one is ever there.” I believed her – gullible.
Here’s what I learned after I whipped off my cover-up: the fashion police did not swoop down on me, small children did not run away from me in fear, in fact no one really cared much about me and my bikini (just fine with me). Other poolside patrons came in various sizes and shapes, some bigger than me, some smaller, there was a full range of swimsuits on display, even a monokini (on a teenager) and really they all looked great in their own way. I found out that no one is spending an excessive amount of time scrutinizing me for physical flaws. I relaxed, enjoyed the view, the water and the company of my friend. A lovely day was had by me and my French bikini, although I should probably get myself to the swimwear department sometime soon. Is this suit the best for my body, probably not. Is it the worst, definitely not. Does it matter? Not as much as I thought.
"Pam", originally uploaded by The National Archives UK.