Swimwear shopping requires five key elements: focus, fitness, stamina, high self esteem and a whole lot of patience. I know this because I did it recently, and it's fair to say the experience almost broke me. If I had to describe it in just a few words... It sucked the big one.
Wherever you're from and whatever you call them, swimmers/bathers/ togs/cossies do the same thing.
They allow us to go naked in public and pretend we're not.
Two weeks ago the elastic in my favourite red one-piece turned to custard. Literally. After Lucy's swimming lesson I lifted her out of the pool, pulled myself out as gracefully as I could and headed towards our towels, only to discover that the front of my swimmers were swinging past my hips like a prolapse. Not. Good.
Timing wise, it wasn't the best time for the old cossie to pack it in. It was the last week of August, and therefore Winter. Finding ANY kind of swimwear at this time of year is almost impossible. Two weeks into September I'd be slightly better off, but the choices were few and far between. I went everywhere, I really did. And I tried on everything. With a two year old in tow. It was a laugh a minute. But the hardest part wasn't the lack of choice. It was the lack of the essential items required for a swimwear-ready body:
Tan (real or fake)
Soft lighting (Myer tends to frown on BYO candles in their change rooms. Go figure.)
I am only half joking about these, and while I don't actually hate my body, like most women I am acutely aware of its flaws, be they real or perceived. Thing is, when we put on our swimmers and venture forth, apart from a thin piece of Lycra to cover our private bits, we are basically naked. And when it's Summertime and hot, and we're all on the beach and everyone's happy and summery and has attended to a few of the above, it's happy days and who cares. But with the exception of Miranda Kerr and that incredibly hot woman in the new Seafolly campaign, who has a body they'd be happy to see in a swimsuit at the very end of Winter? Hands up!
While I was tempted to buy one of those fabulously modest birkinis just to cover up the multitude of sins I've been able to hide over winter (especially as the elastic headed lower and lower in my old swimmers), I decided on a forgiving tankini from Tar-jay for our weekly dunking in chlorine at swim school. I also bought a Jets one piece with an invisible in-built strapless bra thingy to make my boobs salute the sun when we go on holidays. It's all false advertising and I won't be doing star jumps in it, but by golly the girls look perky.
As my two purchases go, I'm as happy as I can be with swimwear, but now that the naked-in-public thing has dawned on me I'm having a fit thinking about getting nude every week at swimming. I've done it happily all year but suddenly have given myself a reason for a weekly anxiety attack. Thankfully the pool we go to is full of lovely Mums of all shapes and sizes who, like me, couldn't give a toss what anyone else looks like. I've just had one of those 'a-ha' moments and have remembered that Summer body confidence takes time and layers of fake tan to build.
By the end of Summer I'm practically romping around in hardly a cheesecloth hanky every day of the week, but from here I've got a long way to go.
Time to break out the St Tropez and suck it in.