It’s that time of year to think about wearing a swim suit. Shopping for a swim suit is still a major point of anxiety for me! I have never enjoyed it and I actually think it is harder now than it was before. Before I would just find one that fit and call it good. To me it really did not matter the color or style – if it fit and covered the problem areas – I was going to buy it. Now, I have a few more options but it has proven to be quite a task to find one that works with my new body.
When I was a kid – I can remember swimsuit shopping with my Grandmother. Oh she loved it. I really didn’t get chubby until I hit the 7th grade – so she loved to pick out those cute bathing suits for young girls. One summer in particular she had picked out this gold bikini. She loved it and every time I wore it that summer she made such a fuss over it. It was the 80ies and gold was in. Of course as I grew up and the weight piled on two piece bathing suits were no longer an option. When I was in high school shopping for a bathing suit became a chore not a good time. Of course when you are an overweight teenager your options are pretty limited. Imagine being sixteen and having to wear a swim suit with one of those flattering skirts. Oh I hated it but they did not make fashionable plus size bathing suits at the time. I would just pick one that fit and I bought some sort of cover up to wear on the beach or at the pool. I wasn’t comfortable in the bathing suit so – I spent most of my time in a coverup anyway.
Last summer I bought my first two piece suit since forever. I also bought a coverup! This journey has been so interesting. Here I am – the healthiest and thinnest I’ve been literally since high school and I still feel uncomfortable in a bathing suit. I struggle with the way my body looks when I don’t have clothes on. I have loose skin – this is just a side effect of losing a good amount of weight. I have also had two babies and my stomach area is also loose. When I was in high school I had an emergency appendectomy. Because this surgery was done in the 90ies and was “exploratory” I have a twelve inch vertical scar on my abdomen. This is somewhat unsightly to begin with – with the weight loss – it makes for an extra unsightly situation.
I have been working on accepting my new body. For the most part I really do love it – but to be honest – that is when I am fully dressed. I look good in my clothes and I’ve been able to pull off most of the styles I’ve tried. I’ve been able to be adventurous and walk outside of my comfort zone with some outfits. However, wearing a bathing suit feels like a whole new ballgame. But, like everything throughout this process and journey – I’m learning to accept and love myself and my new body. It isn’t easy and it is taking time….but I know in the end, it will be worth it.
SO – I decided to figure out what suit would be best for me. To figure this out I forced my hubby to come with me to Target one Sunday afternoon and tried on – what felt like – 100 bathing suits of all different colors, shapes, varieties, and sizes. Shout out to my hubby who sat in the dressing room with me and was my photographer. He also provided honest and useful feedback.
Target has a really expansive bathing suit selection. They have many affordable options and you can do a lot of mix and matchings – which I have come to find out is a good thing. They also seem to be trying to cover all their bases and provide suits for women of all shapes and sizes. I really liked that ALL their suits were in one space. They did not put the plus sized suits in the plus sized clothing section. Target has suits for women sizes 0 to 24. They also offer tops for bigger breasted women – which is great! I am not one to know what is in fashion or what is a fashion “do” as far as bathing suits are concerned….so basically I just grabbed one of each and tried to figure it all out!
So without further ado – here is how my adventures in bathing suit shopping went. I learned a lot! I want to warn you that you will be seeing me at my most vulnerable – so be kind! I tried on some of each kinds of suits – 2 pieces and one pieces mostly. I tried on one tankini – but it didn’t make to the photos because the top was too small and I was feeling too lazy to go and get a bigger size. One thing that I did was try on the same top with different bottoms. In some cases this made suits that didn’t work – work.
Look Number One
Lets start with this number. It’s a two piece that has bottoms that are called “Cheeky” – as far as I can tell this means that some of your butt cheek hangs out and that’s supposed to be attractive. The top has a crocheted piece – that I believe would cause THE WORST tan lines ever. The back criss crosses and ties about the mid back area.
What Works – to be honest, I really liked the top of this suit. I felt comfortable in it. Some suits these days just let everything hang out – I have a few of those example later…
What Didn’t Work – I really could not get on board with the bottoms of this suit. They felt way to skimpy. I’m an lucky that I don’t have cellulite on my rear-end…but I’m still not jazzed about letting it just hang there for the world to see. Also – it is low cut in the front. As you can see from this picture my tummy is a bit of a hot mess. My bellybutton looks like it is a foot long and then you can also see the top of my scar from having my appendix removed and of course LOOSE SKIN. I also have some loose skin in the upper inner thigh area. I’m not overly self conscious of that but, in the world of swim suits – unless you’re going to wear a full skirt – that’s just something you are going to have deal with. I suppose that I could wear a sarong or something…but I’m OK with it.
SO – I tried this suit back on with a different type of bottoms. These are high wasted bottoms that do a pretty good job covering up all the issues that I think I have. I like the high waisted look. I pretty much could pair them with any of the tops that I picked out and I felt a bit better about wearing it.
On to Look Number 2
What Works – I liked the top of this suit because it actually fit like a bra. I picked out my bra size and went with it. Again – this top would cause the worlds weirdest tan lines. I liked the bra top because it actually held the girls up and for the most part – felt comfortable. I do think that the top is big – it fits but it’s stiff. I think this is more a fashionable top then a functional suit.
What Didn’t Work – The bottoms are a horse of a different color. You might not be able to tell because I had to wear underwear while trying on – obviously – but there are cut outs on the sides. I feel like because of my loose skin this adds a busted can of biscuits look to this suit. I have to say – I liked the look – but I’m not comfortable with that much exposure.
I paired the top with two different pairs of high waisted bottoms and I think it makes for a better looking suit on my body type. I tried a solid bottom and then one with a little color. I liked the way the one with the pattern looked – just added a pop of color and design.
Look number 3
What Works – I’m not 100% sure about this look. Target had a whole God Bless America bathing suit selection. I’m not sure this if this is patriotic or just exploiting our patriotism?? I picked out one that I thought was the least skimpy. This suit featured what is called “boy shorts” and I liked them! I felt that they did a good job covering my mid section and other problem spots. I also really like the back of this bathing suit. Again – weird tan lines – but it’s so interesting and dare I say, flattering. The top has this ruffle deal – which I like as it is not as revealing as some of the other suits that I picked up. You’re wearing a two piece but you are not totally out there.
What Doesn’t Work – Although I really liked the boy shorts – I think I could have gone for a larger size. I think that a large size might help to eliminate the muffin top that seems to be hanging over the top a bit. Other than that – I do really dig this suit.
What Works – Ok – so – I actually liked this suit. I think that the top is a little skimpy and I would be afraid of losing it in the water- but I did like it. It comes with high waisted bottoms so that was a good selling point for me. Also – I really liked the pattern and colors. With the high waist bottoms covering the party of my tummy that make me a little uneasy – this was a good fit for me overall.
What Didn’t Work – Aside from being a bit self-conscious of my inner thighs I really liked this suit.
Looks number 5 and 6 – The ONE Piece
What Works – I really liked all of the one piece suits that I picked up. To be honest – my hubby picked most of them out. Before I lost the weight I really did not like the way I looked in a one piece suit. Let’s be honest, it is hard to hide anything in a bathing suit regardless of the style. But, when I put on these suits – I really liked the way they looked on my body. They are slimming and they accentuate the positives. I had two that I really liked:
I think that these two are a little more daring than the ones above. The navy blue has some see-threw sections that add a little zest to the suit. This sort of sheer material is a bit more flattering than the cut outs in the two-piece bottoms from one of the previous suits. I also really like the back of this first one. The second suit is a little low cut – and it would worry me that I would fall out of it. But, it is still a good looking suit.
The biggest down fall on these one piece suits – for me – is that they are expensive. Both of these suits are about $45. Sorry – but I can’t spend that much on a suit. I mean, lets be honest, if I really wanted it I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it. But, $45 is a lot of money for a bathing suit, I think.
So…I spent a good portion of a morning trying on suits and I really learned a lot about myself! In conclusion I think I found some things that work for me and others that clearly don’t. I am happy that in this day and age you can mix and match – this way you can create something that you feel comfortable in. I am also happy that there are so many options to pick from.
It’s funny – I have really been bent about wearing a two piece suit since I lost all the weight. I don’t know if it’s because I missed out on this opportunity for so long. Or if it is because I just feel better about myself and my body and I feel like that is what is logical. What I learned is that it really should be about what makes me comfortable NOT what other people will be comfortable with. My “problem” spots are only my problems…and most likely, they are only in my head. I still have fat brain. Fat brain is what makes me think that I am still over 300 pounds and that no matter what I’m looking at in the mirror – it simply isn’t good enough. The logical part of my brain knows that I have come a long, long way.
Something so interesting and true that my husband mentioned to me during this process. By the way – shout out to my hubby for putting up with this nonsense!! Anyway he said, “I know that the two piece bathing suits are more empowering but you look amazing in the one pieces.” I don’t know about amazing – but he’s right. The two pieces are like forbidden fruit for me. Something that I could never reach or touch. Something that I always wanted to be confident enough to wear but never got there. Now that my confidence has gained and I’m seeing not only my body but myself in a new light…I really feel like I can pull it of. But, do I have to? Absolutely NOT. The only person I need to impress is myself and I can do that mostly by being comfortable and confident in my own skin. I’m not looking to turn heads – I mean seriously – I’m 38, I’ve had two babies…I’m just looking to have a fun summer and be comfortable.
I left Target that Sunday with a better appreciation for my body and an idea what what works and what I didn’t like when it comes to bathing suits. I did not buy one – but I’m keeping my options open. I still have a couple of weeks to pick out the perfect one for me.