As summer approaches, there is a certain thrill in the air. You can sense that everyone is fantasizing about their summer plans. For me, personally, these plans include sun, sand, and salt water. Where can you find such elements, you ask? Well, my friends, there is a magical place called “the beach” that provides these amenities for your enjoyment.
In order to fully enjoy the beach, there is certain apparel that must be purchased: a bathing suit.
My annual pilgrimage to find such a suit always ends in hysterics. It goes something like this:
I enter a store and begin to peruse the aisles of swim apparel. The bright and fun colors mesmerize me. They represent everything that I want my summer to be.
I grab a few two-pieces to try on, since those are the only swimsuits that tend to be youthfully colored. Sometimes, I find a one-piece that does not look like a thick, black parka, and I grab that as well.
Next, I enter the dressing room. I grab my favorite bathing suit and attempt to put it on, which involves various bodily contortions, snaps, buttons, and ties. Finally, I have the two-piece on my person and I look in the mirror.
“Oh…” is the only expression that I can muster.
I thought what I was trying on was a bathing suit, but I was entirely mistaken. Instead, what I was really trying on was two, practically see-through, teeny tiny pieces of fabric. Then, I try on the next size up, but it still makes me feel like I am wearing nothing.
At this point, I begin to experience a combination of shock and outrage. I exercise, eat well, and “treat my body like a temple.” I am hygienic and do the grooming that I feel comfortable with. But, this bathing suit makes me feel like I am not doing enough. It makes me feel like I need to look like a hyper-aware, body-conscious alien in order to accommodate the thin strips of fabric that are posing as swimwear.
To wear such a bathing suit, I would have to remove all of the hair on my body, barely eat, and work out every day to rid my body of the natural curves that are popping out of this swimsuit. Not to mention, I would have to take out a loan or sell some of my possessions in order to afford the two pieces of fabric that, combined, are more expensive than the entire outfit I wore to the store.
After this realization, I go back into the store and grab as many one-pieces as I can find (which is not many). Sadly, I am still hopeful. I try on all of the one-pieces and, still, I experience the same kind of shock/outrage. All of the one-pieces barely cover my pubic region. Plus, each one-piece seems to come with its very own built-in, push-up bra. It makes me feel like I am going to the beach for a pin-up show.
Throughout my whole shopping trip, I was able to only find one bathing suit that covered my breasts and entire groin area. Unfortunately, this bathing suit made me feel like I was wearing constricting scuba gear.
The reason that this makes me so upset is because it makes it impossible for women to experience enjoyment. Going to the beach, a pool, or any other location that requires a bathing suit should not require a complete body makeover. These experiences should be relaxing and comfortable.
I do this yearly. So, this specific experience is not a one-time occurrence. I have gone to many different stores and explored many different brands, but, each time, I walk out with nothing.
I don’t know about you, but I go to the beach or the pool to relax and have some “me time.” I enjoy wearing bathing suits because, traditionally, such swimwear allows one to get some sun and enjoy the water. On the other hand, I do not go to the beach to walk down a runway and expose myself for all to see. Nor do I go to the beach to cover up like a nun. It seems like there is no happy medium.
Unfortunately, it appears that many swimwear companies do not understand that not all women want to spend a ton of money on swimwear and on the bodily alterations that are needed to wear such swimwear. In addition, not all women feel comfortable with their breasts popping out of their bathing suit top, while their vagina is covered by a meager piece of fabric.
It seems to me that swimwear is not created with women in mind. In fact, it seems that swimwear is created so that women can appear a certain way for the men and other women that view them. In other words, so that women can appear like hairless, tan, smooth-skinned, and entirely taut — not humans, but what? Fantasies? In this sense, summertime activities are no longer for enjoyment, peace, or personal freedom. They are for exploitation.