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Not so sunny side of swimsuit season

have such fond memories of summer. It meant long, lazy days to read fat books, enjoy carefree beach time and homemade ice cream.

I actually remember the simple times of living in my bathing suit, day and night. For the girls, that lasted until you were about 12, if you were lucky. Then suddenly you realized there was a great deal of pale, not terribly toned or hairless flesh being revealed. And it changed everything.

Getting ready to put on even a one-piece suit has always required way, way too much preparation. Remember, this was before science came up with acceptable long-term methods of body hair removal and effective indoor tanning options. There was no such thing as a last-minute trip to the pool. I had to shave, uphill in the snow, both ways.

Generally, that left various areas from stem to stern inflamed, stinging and generally as unattractive as before I started. If there was waxing to be had, it had not made itself known to the women in rural El Cajon. It was the blade or nothing.

And then there was the annual misery of buying a new bathing suit at the store. Yes, I can hear that universal groan from women around the globe, of every make and model. Few men will ever be faced with what looks like an arctic avalanche stuffed into unforgiving spandex — under dressing room lights — in a three-way mirror. It will take your breath away, and not in a good way.

I’d love to think that things have become easier for young women today. When I look around the beach, I’d swear today’s young girls all have longer legs and tinier waists. But in my heart, I know every woman thinks she looks dreadful.

As long as there are celebrities out there with abs off of which you could bounce a quarter, the rest of us slackers will be sucking in our stomachs. Yes, of course, I could dedicate every spare daylight hour to working out, but we both know that’s never going to happen. This doesn’t mean I am happy to be marching around with a muffin-top. It means that I firmly believe 80 hours a month of workout time for maybe six hours of stomach exposure is not a reasonable effort-to-results ratio.

I have been tempted to tattoo, across my middle avoirdupois, “Two children and proud of it!” As that would just draw further attention to my bulges, I have resisted. Instead, a grateful nation sends out a special, extra-loud shout-out to the designer of the tankini and the swim skirt. I’ll take one in knee-length, thanks.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer still coming to terms with the suit-side of summer. Contact her at [email protected].