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Does Any Mom Actually Like Trying on Swimsuits?

Photograph by Leah Campbell

When I was 19, I wore a size 4 and considered myself fat. As a result, I hated wearing swimsuits. Because isn’t that pretty much the universal female experience? Swimsuit season brings out the insecurities in all of us.

When I was 25, I wore a size 6 and still considered myself fat. As a result, I hated wearing swimsuits.

When I was 30, I wore a size 8. But I was kind of starting to come around to loving my body, or at least not loathing it. This was due in part to becoming a mother, particularly a mother through adoption. I had my daughter, this little girl I had dreamed about, and I hadn’t had to take on the stretch marks and extra pounds to get her. Plus, I just desperately wanted her to have a better relationship with her body than I always had, and I knew to help her cultivate that, I would have to model body positivity myself.

So, I found a swimsuit I loved (the one pictured above, in fact), and I rocked it—sure that I would never hate wearing a swimsuit again.

Then, I put on about 25 pounds.

It felt like it happened overnight, but really it’s been more over the course of the last two years. Nothing about my lifestyle changed. My metabolism just slowed down. My doctor told me these things happen with age. (I feel like I should be applauded for not cutting said doctor then and there.)

But here we are, another swimsuit season, and that suit I loved at 30 no longer even kind of fits my ass at 34. What’s worse, it was a Victoria’s Secret suit. They closed down their swim line last year, so there wasn’t even an option for me to order that beloved suit in a larger size. Trust me, I tried.

I attempted to try on a few different suits in stores, but it was a miserable experience. Just imagine the fluorescent lights, the terrible fits, the suits that looked great on the rack but not so great on you. It’s all awful. And for moms who are also trying to wrangle little ones while searching for that perfect suit (hello, me!) it’s just torture.

So, I did what any sane mom would do. I poured myself a glass of wine one night and ordered nearly $2,000 worth of swimsuits.

Yes, that happened.

My plan was to bring that hell into my own home instead. Because at least there I could drink through the pain.

Just so we’re clear, I definitely don’t have $2,000 just waiting to be blown. I’m a single mom on a budget. This was pure insanity—driven mostly by my need to find a swimsuit and save myself from the dressing room in the process.

Obviously I never had any intention of keeping all those swimsuits. I just knew that my body had changed enough that I didn’t necessarily know what to even be looking for anymore. And I didn’t want to figure it out in a store. My plan was to bring that hell into my own home instead. Because at least there I could drink through the pain.

When the swimsuits arrived, I set my little girl up with a movie and I made my way through the pile. I had ordered a little bit of everything: bikinis in a style I used to love, swim shorts (in case I decided my butt had become too large for me to ever feel comfortable in swimsuit bottoms again) and even a collection of one-pieces (something I had never attempted before).

I had asked friends on Facebook for recommendations, and had ended up ordering from a few different places. I got cheap suits from Venus and crazy expensive ones from MiracleSuit, a package from Lands’ End and one more from Tommy Bahama. I even ordered several suits in multiple sizes—covering my bases, just in case.

I wish I could tell you it was a transformative experience, that trying all these swimsuits on at home helped me to love them, and my body.

The truth is, it still mostly sucked. But at least it sucked with a semblance of privacy.

In the end, I opted for my first ever one piece: A Lands’ End suit that had some color blocking to distract from my thighs and some tummy control to help with the extra pounds I’m now carrying there.

I’m not going to lie, this moment of accepting that I am now a one-piece kind of girl was weird. I wanted to convince myself I could still rock a bikini, but the truth is, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel completely comfortable in one again.

And maybe that’s OK.

What I do know is that just a few days later, I took my daughter swimming in my newly acquired momsuit. And we had fun. We laughed, we splashed, we just enjoyed the water.

And no one seemed to care what I was wearing.

So … there’s that.

Look, I’m not sure I know a single woman who actually enjoys swimsuit shopping. If you exist, I’m willing to admit I’m jealous. But for those who hate this season as much as I do, here’s my recommendation: Order online and at least take that torture into the privacy of your own home. All my suits have been returned and all my refunds have been processed. Do I feel a little bit crazy for going on such a splurge? Absolutely.

But I got a swimsuit I don’t completely hate out of the process, which has to be a win.

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