Bathing suit drama? Not in my beach bag.
My one-piece from Mod Cloth was blue with gold stars and infused with superpowers. It had so much structure that it could practically stand up by itself. You could stuff a watermelon in there and the bathing suit would still look hot.
It turned me, an almost 40-year-old mom, into a woman who looked like she had given up carbs. My bathing suit was so powerful that strangers never knew about the cookies I binged on. Add some flip flops and sunscreen, and I was ready to take on the world.
I lived like this for years, my trusty swimsuit protecting me from summer. Then one fateful day, it met the kryptonite of time.
My bathing suit gave up all at once while we were on vacation on Lake Chelan. I caught a glimpse of myself in the restroom mirror at Slidewaters Park and realized my precarious situation. The front panels sagged so low that it looked like the suit had a built-in skirt. The worn seat fabric was one trip on the Purple Haze away from doom.
The only thing standing between me and total humiliation was worn-out shapewear.
“If this suit should break apart,” I told my daughter, “throw a towel in my direction and pretend like you don’t know me.”
I double knotted the halter straps, but it barely helped. The top slid down to places it shouldn’t fall. The safe, secure feeling of my bathing suit saying, “Don’t worry! I’ve got you!” had vanished. I couldn’t even de-wedgie myself without risking torn fabric.
That’s when the double whammy of truth hit me. Not only had my one-piece died, but I’d have to go swimsuit shopping to replace it. Oh cruel world that tortures female swimmers, why can’t moms swim in baggy shorts and an ancient T-shirt like dads do — without attracting attention?
I crept out of the restroom and checked out the gift shop’s display of new suits. It was the end of summer, and the pickings were slim. If I was 20 years younger maybe, or a Crossfit junkie, I’d have more options, but even the cover-ups looked skimpy. There was nothing to do but face the day as me, a middle-aged mom in a saggy, baggy bathing suit.
So I did what brave mothers do: I swallowed my own embarrassment and enjoyed a fabulous day with my children. I didn’t go on Purple Haze because I hate it when water shoots up my nose, but I did explore all of the other rides. My favorite was the Lazy River with its views of Lake Chelan in the background. My bathing suit held together for one last day of fun.
When I came home to Edmonds, I immediately searched for a replacement. Summer is scary without shapewear. Take my money, Mod Cloth — I need a new swimsuit to believe in.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.