Susan's Blog

Friday, March 24, 2006

Bathing Suit Rag

It is the shopping cliché of all time. The annual bathing-suit try-on. I do not know of a single woman out there for whom this is an easy task. I lost twenty pounds about 3 1/2 years ago, got down to maybe a 6 or a 4, and yet it is still the biggest drag in the world to buy a bathing suit. When you go to buy a dress, you know where to go; you go to several stores where you will eventually find just the thing. When you go for shoes — and this is not that easy a task — you still know that you are basically a size “8” or whatever, and you get an idea of what looks good and what does not fairly quickly. There is not tons of self-esteem at risk here. The dress, yes, perhaps, but it is easy enough to find one that covers you in just the right way.

So what is it with bathing suits? Why is it so excruciating? Why does it take twenty different ones to maybe get one?

It is the designers. They don’t know sh** about women. And this is not about “everyone hates their body.” This is about designers who cannot measure, who don’t understand the first thing about the female form and can’t be creative if their lives depended on it. Therefore I am making a list to “out” the worst features and see if they can do better from now on.

First of all, the Miraclesuit: there is no miracle here. It does not work. Nobody is fooled. Any suit that is two sizes two small will reduce ones waistline by an inch or two, but what do you do about the way the excess — usually your thighs — bulge over the leg elastic? And why do they always come in hideous, mournful color combos, namely black or black with something? Do the designers thing that because a woman feels she needs a bit of squeezing that she is also in mourning?

Second: the tankini: Why is it that these all look the same and fit completely different? Why do most of them have the high bottom if there’s also a long top to pull down, creating layers of excess stetchy fabric around the middle (Nautica)? Why do many of their bottoms have a seam down the ass crack (Ann Cole, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, and Ralph Lauren)? Do the designers think that just because it’s mostly soccer moms wearing the things that they don’t care if it looks like they have an ass crack on the outside of their bottoms? And finally, what about the tankinis that come down to just below the bust, leaving a huge gap of stomach showing? If we wanted our stomachs to show, we would wear bikinis!

Which brings me to my third gripe: the bikini: What is the point of labelling these things small, medium, and large, when they are really small, smaller, smallest? I looked at a top marked “large” today (Calvin again) and I held the triangle “cup” in the palm of my hand and it fit right there! Then I tried on one marked “DDD” thinking, “wow! All the power to you, Shoshanna (the designer) for thinking in terms of large-busted women’s sizes, only to find that the front was cut so low and so wide that half my breast was still showing! Shoshanna must be designing for porn stars.

Fourth: Why don’t manufacturers get it together and do all mix and match? Why not decide that stores can mix and match brands, not just tops and bottoms? What woman is always an “8” in bathing suits, top and bottom? Most people who are small on top are larger on bottom, and those who are heftier around the top and middle tend to be a little lighter in the ass. That’s the way God planned it: almost nobody gets both ways. That’s why the women you see with the perfectly skinny bodies and the floaty round breasts are usually implant victims. Anyway, that way if the Nautica bottom fits you, but the Ralph Lauren top is better, you can put them together.

Fifth: What is with the colors and patterns this year? Is it 1978? If I see one more flower-power suit I think I’ll scream! Ann Cole used to be the best for color; this year, it’s all that retro garbage! The rule is, that if you wore the pattern or style when you were a kid, you probably don’t feel like wearing it now!

Sixth: If there is a tummy tightener, a waist lengthener, and a high-cut thigh for fat thighs, why is there no bust minimizer bathing suit that is not a grandmother one-piece? Why can’t they make tankinis and bikinis for people with big busts? Or an ass-shaping kind for the babies who got back? Use some of that great underwear technology harvested by Victoria’s Secret or Minimizer Bras to do some good! You’d think Victoria’s would have a clue but forget it! Their bathing suits fall prey to the same problems as everyone else’s. Believe me, we don’t want strangers knowing this much about us that only our husbands, boyfriends, or doctors should know!

We women want colors, patterns, cuts, shaping for real women: not funeral guests, not Skipper, not Barbie! Get a $#% clue, designers or we’ll all start going in the water in our shorts and tee shirts! Hey, that’s not a bad idea!


Laughed out loud on this post.

Oh man, Susan. You are thinking about things that are just to in sync with me these days. I was just wondering why, if they can invent all those things, I can’t find one bathing suit that doesn’t make me look matronly.

(I am a size 8 and trying to “lose” the weight I’ve put on since Adam’s “diagnosis”…just so tired these days…sure you understand).


— added by Estee Klar-Wolfond on Friday, March 24, 2006 at 8:04 pm

Yup, even at my thinnest, I don’t like myself in a bathing suit. I don’t know if it is too many size negative 2 models in my magazines or what, but I feel ok about myself until I see myself in one of those horrible dressing room mirrors and wonder why we can’t have airbrush artists on call for moments like these!

— added by Sam's mom on Friday, March 24, 2006 at 8:30 pm

Hee hee! Those fashion designers deserve all the ragging you can give ’em! Tummy-squeezing suits are abominable. How can you relax in the pool if you’re wearing something that feels like a corset?

Thankfully, I am small enough to wear bikinis without falling out of them, and I get a pretty good fit with Venus Swimwear. Although many of this year’s designs are ugly retro stuff, I found a cute bikini with a chili pepper design. So I’m reasonably happy for this season, anyway.

— added by Bonnie Ventura on Friday, March 24, 2006 at 10:45 pm

I have only two words to offer — my solution — Land’s End.

Your reading at B&N; was great. Really so very moving. I just posted about it, and have much more to say . . . but has been acting up tonight.

— added by MothersVox on Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 12:09 am


I’m often perplexed at why women care so much about their body image. I know society elevates skinny women in advertising and there is a constant bombardment of the “beautiful” body in our society. Men have recently been affected by this “disease” as well. The older I become, the less attracted I am to the “skinny” body. I like a woman with “curves”. When I see a mother with the “perfect” body, it isn’t attractive to me. The first thing that pops in my head is that that woman has some serious image issues to work so hard to overcome the “pregnancy”. Pregnancy after effects are a part of life and to me only add to the “wisdom” of women, which to me is what is so attractive. Perhaps I’m in the minority of men. There are many men out there just like me. We love women of all shapes and sizes. To me there is nothing sexier than a woman with a strong sense of confidence, who cares if she is a size 10 or 2. Most skinny women I’ve met have a very unhealthy view of themselves and this just turns me off! I’ll take a size 10 who is confident in her “skin” anyday than a woman who is a size 2 and “unhealthy in the head”. I think all men want a woman who makes them feel like a Lion, whatever the size.

— added by not my blg on Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 9:36 am

Hey, Susan – take the advice about Lands End.

Really wish I had, but I didn’t have very much warning that I’d need a suit when I did. (The one I already have is from before my first pregnancy, and I don’t think it’s going to fit anytime soon.)

I’m probably going to be sticking with one-piece suits for awhile; I need surgery to bring my separated abs back together (that’s what I get for carrying twins past 38 weeks!) and the insurance will probably cover that, but not plastic surgery on the skin. And there’s things I’d rather have than an ideal belly, such as a laptop computer. 🙂 And then there’s the thing of challenging some folks I spend a weekend or two each year with, who claim to be into “body acceptance” – I think most of them will be cool with it, and I wouldn’t mind getting into the face of anyone who wasn’t. But that’s just me.

— added by Julia on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at 7:57 pm

About that floral fabric!!
I figure there must be several huge football field warehouses with bolts and bolts and bolts of that UGLY BLUE FLORAL BATHING SUIT MATERIAL that we have been looking at since (as you noted) since the 70’s!! I am 63 years old and I am so sick of seeing that particular print I could scream!!! You are right – the designers do not get it!!!! Even Delta Burke suits – you think she would get it; she doesn’t!!
Still looking for that perfect suit….

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 6:39 am

This is a fantastic article considering I spent part of today trying on swimsuits. I am really large busted and the suits I tried on barely had enough material to cover the nips.
Thanks for the chuckle. Now, if designers would only take your advice

— added by sandi on Wednesday, June 6, 2007 at 6:10 pm

So, I take it swimsuit designers are not big busted. I just spent $140.00 on a swimsuit in order for it to fit my 36KK top. I hear ya on the patterns. I stay clear of the flowers. I look like I have two big sunflowers pinned to my chest. Could someone please give me a break.


— added by Tamara on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Good article. The comfortable swimsuits are very costly. The better one are fount here

— added by alica on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 12:38 am