This week I made the terrible mistake of trying on swimsuits in a department store. This was a classic example of magical thinking. Somehow, I convinced myself I’d find the perfect suit to make me look thinner, younger, and more fit—and it would be comfortable. I know the Universe is laughing at me.
I spent at least thirty minutes looking for a few suits to try on. Most were not attractive, even on hangers. The larger sizes were especially bad. No style. No pizazz. My internal monologue went like this:
“Here’s one in my size! Oops, it doesn’t have a bottom. It’s only a top, and it costs over $50.00. Where IS the bottom?” I discovered the bottom halves scattered all over the place, with only a few sizes available. And they cost another $40.00. Plus, who wants to swim laps in a stupid looking SKIRT?
Eventually I peeled off my baggy jeans, faced away from the mirror, and tried on three suits. The first wouldn’t go past my hips. The other two were also non-starters, which led me to compose a list of questions for the swim suit industry:
- Why do I always have to buy a suit two sizes larger than my other clothing? This is demoralizing.
- Who designs these things and why are they so ugly?
- Horizontal stripes? Really?
- Why do they cost so much?
- Why do the suits begin to sag after a month of swimming?
- Is there no happy medium between size 6 (cute) and size 18 (ugly)?
- Must the larger size bras contain wires that double as torture devices?
- Why can’t they be comfortable? I understand many women wear swim suits only as fashion accessories, but some of us actually go into the water.
- Do you think we can’t figure out you make more money selling separate tops and bottoms, supposedly for OUR convenience?
- Women like me who swim laps have broad shoulders. Why are the straps SO tight?
I tried Speedos and other sport suits for lap swimming, but they aren’t made for middle aged women with curves. Those brands focus on twenty year old swimmers who weigh 100 pounds soaking wet.
But, all is not lost. I have returned to my default swim suit provider, Swimsuits For All, an online store with great prices and nice suits. (www.swimsuitsforall.com). The Longitude brand is made for women with longer torsos, and the Delta Burke suits are for larger sized women who don’t want to wear ugly skirt-suits. This online store has a great selection. The suits may be close-out styles from the labels (I don’t know), but they look good, and some are chlorine resistant. The prices? Usually under$50.00.
Sometimes I need to remind myself of who I am, why I’m here, and that life isn’t all about appearances. Christiane Northrup, in her book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, writes that women between 49 and 55 experience hormonal balance once again, freeing them to pursue creative interests and social action. “These are the years when all of a woman’s life experience comes together and can be used for a purpose that suits her and at the same time serves others.”
In spite of the media and pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to depict menopause as a dry wasteland – the end of the road — Northrup points out that during menopause, women discover a “deeper and freer experience of self.” In Celtic cultures, menopausal women were believed to “retain their wise blood,” ceasing the constant ebb and flow of cycles and thereby becoming more powerful than younger women. It was only after menopause that a woman could become a shaman. In Native cultures, menopausal women were “the voice of responsibility towards all children, both human and nonhuman…unafraid to say a strong no to anything that did not serve life.” These women were looked to by their younger counterparts for education and initiation into this knowledge and responsibility.