Monday, June 14, 2010

The Hunt for that Elusive Beast - Flattering Swimwear (3/12/08)

Alice Munro, one of my favorite writers, wrote a story about a young girl who, with a child's active imagination and innocent tactlessness, asks her parents, "Is there any sort of chance I could be adopted?"

To answer her, the mother unzips her skirt to show her "stomach, which looked flat when she was dressed, now (with) a slight fullness and sag." Proof positive, along with her silvery stretch marks, of pregnancy.

Despite Hollywood mommies claiming "good genes," most women have a little extra skin left after the superhuman stretching act that houses her child and enlarges her uterus five hundred percent of its normal size.

Extra belly may be the mother's badge of honor, but disguising my own wrinkly honor was foremost in my mind on a recent shopping trip for a new swimsuit. My faithful pink and orange number from two years ago had suffered a few too many beatings from the wash cycle - who has time to hand wash?

Post-pregnancy swimwear hunts have taught me that separates are the way to go - you can mix and match the top and bottom sizes and the degree of coverage. These days I don't mind showing a little cleavage, but I do feel naked in anything cut on high on the, ahem, nether regions. "Try Land's End," confided the kind saleslady at the department store. "You can choose your own height of the leg."

The new suit I finally found was cute and I looked okay in it. Tankinis are the greatest invention ever for moms who would be more likely candidates for space travel than for a tummy tuck. In my top, extra fabric falls from the bra top, while the back is bare. The bottom I chose resembled a pair of short shorts with a skirty wraparound piece that tied at the side. Cute. Functional.

Then I stepped in the water at the park district's indoor pool.

As I tried to swim laps, surrounded by a cloud of floating fabric, visions of Lindsey Lohan's filmy fabric in the Marilyn shoot and of Moslem women splashing in their long robes came to mind. The foam-filled cups that had cushioned and hid my girls on land now were floating to the surface, leaving me on my own, so to speak. I felt strangely chaste and lewd at the same time.

It seems there's a big difference between a "bathing" suit and a swim suit.

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