I have not purchased swimwear in…oh, a very long time. What I have used as a “swimsuit” the past few years doesn’t even really qualify as an actual swimsuit – a tankini top and running shorts, the sort with built-in sweat-wicking underwear. This combination was certainly not particularly attractive and also rather odd, but hey – it kept pretty much everything covered and was better than facing the dismaying prospect of swimsuit shopping. In fact, it is just easier to choose not to participate in water-related activities than to unearth a swimsuit that: 1. fits, by which I mean “covers parts you don’t care to put on public display” 2. is relatively attractive, by which I mean “doesn’t make you look like a shapeless marshmallow” 3. is affordable, by which I mean “something I can pay for without crying, or selling my firstborn” or at least “costs less than a meal at a really fancy restaurant.”

However, as far as I can tell, most swimsuit designers labor under two false impressions. The first is that women enjoy flaunting areas that are classic “problem” areas for the female form, namely their midsection and thighs. I have met exactly ONE woman in my 29 years of life who is like, “I have good abs” (and she was right) and not a single one who is proud of her thighs so I feel comfortable assuming that MOST women would prefer not to prance around with these things on display. I mean, my abs weren’t exactly admirable prior to bearing a child and let’s just face facts: stretch marks tend to happen when your body, rather suddenly, finds its abdominal cavity accommodating AN ENTIRE EXTRA PERSON. Stretch marks and gooey flabby stuff. I have it on good authority that the gooey flabby stuff pretty much never goes away.

So, a tankini top and either swim shorts or board shorts, or a swim skirt (running skirts are cute; why not for swimming too? I’m already swimming in running clothes anyway) seems like a good solution. Moderate coverage without looking like this:

I COULD be wrong, but I believe that much fabric poses a drowning hazard?

Let’s start with the affordability requirement and peruse some prices online. Land’s End, known for tastefully modest swimsuits made of quality materials: regular retail prices for a tankini start at $48.50 and go up to $69.50. Are you kidding?? Seventy bucks for HALF an outfit?!?!! Ridiculous. Shorts start at $29.50 and go up to $64.50; skirts are between $39.50 and $74.50. So we could, potentially, spend a mere $144 FOR A SWIMSUIT. Apparently this does not seem outrageous to the folks at Land’s End because THEY ARE CHARGING THAT MUCH. Moving on.

Athleta, the activewear branch of the Gap family, has good reviews on their swimwear too. Their tankini tops range from $52 – $74 and swim shorts are $49. So we are looking at a possible $123 there.

In years past, I have simply given up the hunt for a swimsuit because it’s just impossible. Every time I have attempted it the discouragement is overwhelming and I give up. However, I left the ol’ tankini top in France as it no longer fit, and this year I have a little boy who loves water and will also be taking swimming lessons. Since I would like to play with him too, instead of just sticking my feet in the water, I must persevere. Poverty and the statistical improbability of finding a suit I like shall not deter me! Well, not much. I did give up several times but oh-so-lucky for me, Land’s End is having a sale so if I pass over my first choice due to bad reviews, and my second choice due to it being out of stock, I can outfit myself for a mere $69.30.

Back to sizing. My bust measurement calls for one size, my waist for the next size up, and my hips for still the next size up – and this is just for the top. Apparently, aside from the misfortune of being triangle-shaped, I am also doomed to an ill-fitting top. I can get the middle of the 3 sizes I could potentially wear, but nothing says “classy” like a swim top that is loose in the bust. So now I must now face myself in an actual mirror while trying on scores of ill-fitting items, must confront that bane of female existence: shopping for a swimsuit in person.