I should start by recognizing that I love water. I met my husband on a summer mission project where we were both a part of the white water rafting team. We have a pool, a boat (if we can ever get the darn thing to work), a hot tub, rafts, canoes, kayaks, and just recently paddle boards…yeah, I love water!
As a lover of water I often invite my girlfriends (and frequently their kiddos) to come play in the water with us. This summer already I have been stunned to find out that multiple of my girlfriends don’t own a swimsuit. Do not own one swimsuit. What the what? I’m still having a hard time grasping this. While this might be shocking to my water loving heart what I also realized is that I would have been almost equally as shocked if they proclaimed to me that they would love to come play because they have a swimsuit that they just love to wear!
See while I can’t quite grasp not owning a swimsuit I wouldn’t necessarily say that I love any of the ones that I own myself. They are the best I’ve been able to come up with so far and they work. And I just make them work because of my aforementioned love of water.
But mamas…I get it. I have given birth to three stunning, precious, fearless babies. And I’ve never been the same since…on the inside or the outside. And I struggle just like so many of you do to find a great swimsuit. In fact I went out just last month to go swimsuit shopping. With a babysitter watching my kiddos I struck out with completely misguided confidence that I could easily find a swimsuit that was cute, modest, and flattering. I was in a good mood and even stopped for a frappuchino and piece of lemon pound cake on the way (maybe not the smartest move before swimsuit shopping). Not even 15 minutes in I felt like crying, giving up, and going back for another piece of cake. After that torturous experience I give to you my top 3 swimsuit complaints…
1. Why is it so impossible to find a cute, conservative swimsuit??? There are three kinds of swimsuits that are prevalent and easy to come by. The first is a bikini. Ummm no. I had a couple of bikinis in my youth (but only a couple because I was pretty modest even back then) and to be honest I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to just go ahead and rock that bikini (when appropriate of course)! Now, however, there are other factors at play. Every single stretch mark I have was worth it a thousand times over for my babies. Every one. But I still don’t want to show them off to the world. Sure they make a fun sunburst like pattern shooting from my belly button, but you all will never see it. Also, about that belly button. When I was pregnant with my first I asked my good friend, Mellissa, if my belly button would ever return to normal. She promised me it would. She lied. Sure, it didn’t stay popped out like it was in the last weeks of pregnancy. But it also didn’t go all the way back in. It’s now a half innie/half outtie. Who even knew that could happen. So yeah, half innie/half outtie with starburst stretch marks radiating out. Good times. All worth it. No bikinis for me.
The second kind of prevalent swimsuit is the tankini/one piece. This seems a safer/better/more comfortable option for me. Except most of the ones readily available have a top that dips ridiculously low (more on that to come).
The third kind is one that you might find an 80 year old grandma wearing…big, baggy, drapery floral.
2. Back to those tankinis and one pieces. Why do they have to be cut SO LOW??? For real people. I know that I’m probably a bit more modest than most in this area but when I am hanging out at the pool/beach/lake/hot tub I am usually with other people. I would not go over to my friend’s house for dinner wearing a shirt that reveals half my chest so why would I do that when I’m with my friends (and their CHILDREN) in the water? Is that necessary? Is there something in the swimsuit rules that say that a swimsuit only works in the water if half my chest is exposed? If the other half is covered will the extra fabric make me sink? There has to be an explanation here.
3. My last beef with the swimsuits readily available is that the vast majority of them have no support for the girls. Again, I would NOT go to the grocery store without a bra on. I wouldn’t go to my in-laws house without a bra on either. So, why would I hang out all day with family and friends wearing something that has zero support? I would say that 75% of the swimsuits I see often have not an ounce of support. The other 25% have some support and it’s a push up sort of support…in other words NOT what I need. See, I don’t really want everybody I know to see the ladies (see #2) and I certainly don’t want them to pop completely out while playing Marco Polo with my kids! See that’s the thing…I no longer wear a swimsuit just to wear a swimsuit. Single ladies in their 20’s might do this. I do not. I wear a swimsuit because I want to play with my kids, or kayak, or even relax in the hot tub. But usually I do intend at some point to actually get in the water, even briefly. And often I intent to actually be active (and this my friends, requires support). Enough said.
There you have it…my three major complaints about swimsuits. And I hear these complaints from my sweet girlfriends ALL THE TIME. One of my best friends was over here just yesterday modeling a new swimsuit top for me, contemplated how she could sew it to make it more appropriate, and then just gave up and decided to return in. Swimsuit makers…I hope you are listening…because there is a whole demographic of women who are just giving up on you and have decided instead to just not buy your product at all.
But mama friends…please don’t give up! The water is fun. It’s so much fun, and restful, and healing. And our babies want to be in the water. And they want to be there with us. Don’t get me wrong…when girlfriends are at my house (and they bring their babies to play with mine) I spend most of the time talking and eating poolside with my girls (with an occasional playful dip or dive). But then there are days like today that my kids beg me to get in the pool with them. And I do, not just because it’s fun (which again, it is) but because I want to experience life with them and do things with them. And that’s worth it to me even if I don’t love the swimsuit I have to do it in. I can get over my imperfect body because the living of life is worth it. Because in 30 years I will look back and tell my younger self that I should have gotten in the pool or up on the paddle board because I didn’t even know how fabulous I actually was then!
Let’s not miss out mama friends! Let’s not miss out on what could be a relaxing day by the water or an awesome adventure because of how we might look or feel in a piece of fabric. Let’s put the swimsuits on (whether they are great or not) anyway…we can do this!!!
And if you need a little more help along the way I have some suggestions for you. First, if all else fails please consider a combo that I have found to be fantastic…swimsuit bottoms/swim shorts or board shorts topped with a sports bra and a splash top/rash guard. It’s a cute, sporty look that keeps everything covered and in place (extra bonus for good support)! Old Navy has some cute ones for cheap, but you can also find them lots of places. Second, if you can’t find a swimsuit that you love try wearing the best you can find and topping it with and adorable pool cover up (when you aren’t actually swimming)! Those are just a couple of ideas.
After my most recent swimsuit shopping fiasco I reached out to the Facebook world for advice. And then a couple of weeks later I also read a fantastic thread from Jen Hatmaker (whom I love) about swimsuits. Today I waded through her hundreds of comments to find the swimsuit companies that women were recommending. So friends, these are the swimsuit companies that have been recommended to me (or Jen Hatmaker’s followers). I have not looked at more than a couple of them so if they aren’t all great please don’t hold me responsible. But there HAVE to be some good ones in here, right? So here they are (in no particular order)…
- Rey Swimwear
- Miracle Suit
- Land’s End
- Beach House
- Roxy or Billabong
- Panache (heard they have good underwire…haven’t checked it out yet)
- Freya (also good with the underwire)
- Unique Vintage
- Albion Fit
- DM Fashion by Divine Modestee
- Korti Jeane
- Lime Ricki Swimwear
- Pin Up Girl Clothing
- Raising Wild
- Bare Necessities
- Divinita Sole
- Popina Swimwear
- Fig Leaves
- Call by Carrie Underwood
- LL Bean
- Walmart (I find this hard to believe and I probably won’t try it, but a number of people commented that they found some good ones online at Walmart)
So there you go ladies. I did the work and now you do the shopping! Now many of the swimsuits from these companies don’t come cheap but for this water loving gal this kind of splurge on myself is worth it! If you just can’t get there with the swimsuit please know that I still love you and will still be happy to hang out with you poolside at my house! But try it…you might be surprised! Let’s do it friends, we’ve got this!!