OK, itís past Memorial Day. The mercury is climbing and soon I will be forced to peel off my black sweatpants and stuff myself into a swimsuit. It wonít be pretty. I intended to be in fantastic shape for the unveiling of my thighs this season, but I didnít go to the gym and I didnít lock the fridge and forgot to save up for liposuction. So now, my body is the shape and consistency of dough. I blame it all on my kids. Before I had kids, I had the figure of a 23-year-old. Heck, I was a 23-year-old. This body is all their fault.
Before I had kids, I wore two-piece suits that proudly exposed my mid-section. Since Iíve been a mom, Iíve become the master of disguise. I wrap beach towels around my middle and cover my dietary transgressions with a voluminous maternity suit. Nine years after my last pregnancy, the suit still evokes sympathetic stares and well-meaning questions.
"Whenís the baby due?" they ask.
"In 1994," I quip brightly.
Now, after years of service, the elastic has disintegrated and the suit is baggy. Even on me. Itís time to toss the maternity suit and admit, before the National Enquirer starts getting interested, that I am not still pregnant. Itís time to buy a new bathing suit.
I donít expect it to be easy Ė I have some tough criteria. I need something that will minimize my figure flaws. One that will draw attention away from my deficits and accentuate my assets. One thatís more burka than bikini. Price, naturally, is no object. If I found a bathing suit that made me look 20 pounds thinner and 10 years younger, I would pay. A lot.
Oh sure, they have those "miracle" suits that are reinforced with steel and supposedly compress excess flesh, but Iíve looked at enough catalogs to be able to pick those suits out in a crowd. Whenever I see anyone wearing one, I automatically visualize 10, maybe even 15 extra pounds. It makes me feel better about myself.
Iíve searched extensively for a new bathing suit. Iíve looked in the stores and Iíve shopped online. Iíve tried on thongs and sarongs, tankinis and one-piece racers, suits with skirts, suits with shorts, suits that promise to hold you in, push you up and flatten you out. Iíve tugged on suits that are designed to enhance your bustline, emphasize your waistline and eliminate your tan line. It has been torturous.
Believe me, thereís nothing more loathsome Ė not even periodontal work Ė than trying on bathing suits. Except trying on bathing suits with a kid in the dressing room. Once, I brought my youngest child with me when I shopped for a swimsuit. My ego still hasnít recovered. He was full of questions.
"How come your tummy sticks out? Why is your butt so big? How come your arms move when you donít?"
There was just one answer: "Because Iím a mom."
I came home empty-handed from that shopping trip and ended up wearing my maternity bathing suit. Again. I think I can probably squeeze one more summer out of it.
Carol Band promises to give the National Enquirer the exclusive rights to her story. If youíd like to discuss a made-for-TV movie, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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