Body image issues — we all have them.
Those small or large flaws we see when we look in the mirror.
For women, our flaws seem to be magnified upon entering a dressing room. We walk into a small room with unflattering fluorescent lighting and a full-length mirror staring at us as we try on what we hope will be the perfect little black dress or business suit for an upcoming job interview. But as we turn and examine ourselves in the mirror, sometimes it feels like we are staring at a carnival mirror that distorts our shape, making some areas smaller and others three times their actual size.
During the fall and winter, women can camouflage their perceived flaws. The spring and summer, however, dare us to reveal skin as the temperature rises. Therefore, most women dread the annual trip to find a flattering swimsuit for their particular body type.
For this purpose, three Times staffers have decided to share the highs and lows of their swimsuit shopping experience. We hope these stories show the readers, especially the female ones, body issues come in all shapes, sizes and ages.
My body type is a little weird. I’m pretty petite at 5-feet-2 and 110-ish pounds, but I’m also pretty small chested.
It took me about 19 to 20 years to realize this is actually a very big blessing.
However, this makes shopping for bathing suits pretty annoying because I can basically only fill out one type of top for my bikini: the bandeau.
Bandeaus are, in my opinion, a better option for small chests. The thick band of fabric easily wraps around a small frame and makes your chest appear to fill the top. To me it’s just a better-looking option than a string bikini top, which relies on a larger chest to fill the shape.
I like bandeau tops that “twist” in the middle, with a removable strap, giving it the option to become a halter top. The halter top can add support, but can be removed if you don’t want icky tan lines along your collarbone and neck.
I also always opt for mix-and-match bathing suits because you can wear them in many different ways, essentially making many different bathing suits from a few different pieces. I try to pick a neutral top or bottom and pick a fun color or print with the other piece.
My bathing suit for this season is a mint green bandeau top with black, scalloped edged bottoms. They were on sale at PacSun for buy one, get one free. The top was $16 and the bottoms were $14, so they were my free item. Yaaaay for sales!
Go have fun in the sun ladies!
Last year, I bought a one-piece bathing suit. I hated it.
It wasn’t the cut or the color but the way I felt wearing it.
I felt people would think I was hiding something or I was ashamed of my body.
Let me be clear, I have body issues. We all do in our own way. But wearing the one piece felt like I was admitting defeat. It felt like an excuse to not work out and that’s pretty much what happened.
This year I got a two piece. It’s strangely motivating just to think of the article of clothing. Knowing I’ll have to wear it encourages me to make a little effort to work on my overall health.
I tried on a few different styles but ultimately decided (unintentionally like Chelsea Tench) to purchase a mint colored bandeau and matching bottom from Target for $35.
The suit manages to be modest and encouraging at the same time. I’ve still got the one piece and wear it when the occasion calls for more covering, but I like having options.
Shopping for a bathing suit is no picnic for most women. I think, though, I have a bit harder time than most thanks to a genetic mutation of a concave chest.
Let me explain. A concave chest — for me, an inherited trait — is when the base of the sternum curves inward toward the diaphragm. When I was a small child, it looked as if someone pressed slightly above my stomach, leaving a small curve.
This curve creates a slight problem, because I want to find a swimsuit that hides this mutation. In addition, I need to find a suit with enough support for my C-size cup.
Therefore, as I searched through the racks of one store, I looked at two-piece suits hoping to come across one with enough support and coverage appropriate for a 30-something female.
No such luck, especially since I went just last weekend, meaning my options were limited. Most of the two pieces were of the string-bikini variety, and I do mean strings. Of course, I never would have worn such miniscule items when I was “flat as a pancake,” according to the boys in my junior high school class.
Moving on, I decided to grab a couple of tankinis, thinking they would provide me with enough coverage. Wrong. Because of my long torso, the tankini fit more like a crop top. Plus, the straps were not long enough from my shoulder to my bust, allowing the suit’s straps to cut into my shoulders and leave marks.
As for the bottoms, the boy-style shorts just magnified the fact that I have the flattest butt in the world. Then the shirt-style bottom made me feel too constricted. I mean I did want to be able to actually swim, tread water and float without feeling I was bound up like a mummy.
Finally, I decided to try a few one pieces. The bottom of the bathing suit fit well on my barely-there rump. And a few of the suits had fun prints befitting of my outgoing personality. But again, the straps were too thin and cut into my shoulder and neck area. Or the suit was too low-cut for me.
On a whim, though, I grabbed a red one-piece swimsuit since I liked the color. I knew it would not fit me because it crisscrossed in the front, similar to a wrap-style dress. Those dresses never fit me because they don’t hit me across the chest in the correct form. I think they make me look crooked.
So I tried on the red swimsuit last, readying myself for disappoint and knowing I would have to visit a fourth store. But as I pulled on the suit and looked in the mirror, I smiled.
This red one piece fit flawlessly. The straps were long enough and went out in a V-shape toward my neck and shoulder, slicing my broad frame in half and making it appear smaller. The straps also did not cut into me and leave red marks.
It felt comfortable. I thought “Hey I could do laps in this, if I did laps.”
Since the suit wrapped around me, it covered my chest to my satisfaction and created a rousching look around my stomach. And the color red was a nice change from the blacks, blues and wild prints I tried on earlier.
Plus, the price was right at $28 at Marshalls.
Therefore, I found a suit fitting my needs. It just goes to show trying on clothing “just for the fun of it” can prove fruitful.