Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini...

If by "itsy bitsy" you mean "providing respectable coverage" and by "teeny weeny" you mean "well fitting" and by "yellow polka dot" you mean "pink and blue with tropical flowers", and if by "bikini" you mean "tankini", then Yes. Exactly that.

You know, Dante forgot a few circles of hell.

Over the years I have compiled an ever growing list of the circles Dante forgot, including (but not limited to)

*Kenny G albums

*dental work of any kind

*stomach bug with kids too little to understand “mommy is not a bucket, hug me later, HUG me LATER!!!”

*bugs with legs in multiples of 8

*the “singing” of Britney Spears

*snowy days at school when it’s snowy enough to make the students berserk but NOT snowy enough that you get to stay home.

*gas station bathrooms

*bathing suit shopping

Ok, so bathing suit shopping should maybe be first on the list.

My husband can look in a catalog, see a colorful bathing suit that just looks like a pair of shorts, and order them. For me…sigh. Circle of Hell.

As a teen, my uber-Caucasian-ness made bathing suits of any kind a nightmare, because there is nothing more persistent or mortifying than the clamor of other teens marveling at how white you are. Well, I’m sure there are more mortifying things (I can think of a few, also involving bathing suits), but this was the daily ugh. When you are really, really , REALLY white, people remind you of it. Constantly. Derisively.

Really, WHO CARES? But as a 15 year old…I really, really did.

Now, post-3-kids, bathing suit shopping is no more fun. The uber-Caucasian thing, I don’t much care about. The inexorable progress of gravity on my maternal physique is a little harder to stomach (literally) while bathing suit shopping. Even though the number on the scale is the same as it was pre-kids, everything has king of just settled into a Giza like shape. Too bad they don’t make limestone-styled bathing suits, I could be a wonder of the world.

Anyway, a few weeks back I had to take my teen daughter bathing suit shopping. This was our first time not just ordering something from Lands End. Eek.

I prepared her for the potential of mental and emotional turmoil that can ensue when Nothing Is Quite Right, bathing suit wise. I told her we’d likely have to try on a lot of things. We might not find anything, that is OK! Every girl has trouble finding a bathing suit.

She was SO excited to get to the bathing suit section of the store…she is old enough to have to look in the grown up section, but very, very short. I knew we’d be in for a challenge, especially since her shape is not quite as curvaceous as most grown-up bathing suits allow for, if you know what I mean.

She raced from suit to suit, picking up impossible things (stay away from the D, sister!), bopping around happily.

The first suit on: She was posing, smiling, loving every second (especially since there was WAY too much structure in one portion of the suit, we were veering into alarming airfilled Dolly Partonesque territory—I told her Daddy would have cardiac arrest if she came home in that suit). Suit after suit, she giggled and posed and had a blast.


Yes, she had to try on about a dozen suits, then re-try a few and then we made some decisions…she wasn’t bothered in the least when I said some things just didn’t look right, she just barreled on to the next choice.

”I Look FAB-ulous!” she sang at me, posing in a hot pink floral tankini covered in big flowers…

And I stopped, lycra skirt in hand, and told her to hold onto that her entire life. Hold onto that fabulous, that confident sense of “I am awesome in my 4’10” “curvy” self!” Hold onto that joy, that silliness, that laughing at when things don’t look quite right. HOLD ONTO IT!

She just struck another supermodel pose and giggled.

What a gift. If only she could bottle that and give it to other teens…heck, give it to her little sister, who seems to be a lot more like momma in the confidence department (ie out of stock, generally).

So this week, I learned that maybe my circles of hell are NOT my child’s. Maybe girls CAN celebrate themselves on their own terms, not the terms dictated to them in teen fashion magazines.

Maybe bathing suit shopping isn’t so bad after all…

But I’m still going to try to order from Lands End and avoid the dressing room altogether. ;)