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LAce Posted Monday, September 5th, 2005
Requisite Shopping
Anna McDougall

My husband and I are going to Maui on Saturday.

Just the two of us.

Without the kids.

For this reason, I am out doing the required shopping I’ve put off for months. I am standing on a square of brown-grey carpet in bare feet waiting for the sales girl to check out what I’m wearing. She told me that she would be more helpful if she could see me wearing the swimsuits. So I’m here pushing aside my pride, waiting to be judged.

I selected her carefully when I entered the boutique. A bit older with a generous figure, I hoped she would be more sympathetic than the other two skinny-minnies. Perhaps she has a heavy aunt or mother or grandmother.

“Hi!” I pretended to be enthusiastic.

“How are you tonight?” She answered with a voice deeper than I expected.

“Great, well, except I really need to pick out a bathing suit for a holiday. Where should I look for styles in ...er...my age category?” My eyes roamed the store taking in life-sized photographs of young models playing volleyball on the beach. My husband and I won’t be doing those sorts of activities; we need a rest.

She pointed to some racks near the entrance. “Let me show you the suits up there. The back half of the store is dedicated to junior sizes.” I liked ‘junior sizes’ it sounded more like undeveloped twelve year olds rather than slim sex kittens in their early twenties.

“What are you looking for?” she asked.

“Uhmm…I’m pretty sure that…I should really get….”

I wasn’t certain how to answer her question. I had expected her to hand me one and say, “This is the one we sell to all post-natal gals approaching forty; it’ll hide everything.”

Our trip to Maui will be the first beach holiday we’ve taken since our honeymoon eleven years ago so I want to make an effort; create some romance; enjoy it in the way it is meant to be enjoyed regardless of my shape, or my husband’s, for that matter. This could be an opportunity to reconnect as a couple. For one week I want to return to the sexy woman I was when I met him. Prior to the childbearing years, I was partial to two-pieces which showed off my flat stomach. I wouldn’t mind wearing one again before I flop over forty.

“A bikini. Yes, I’m buying a bikini.”

“A bikini or a tankini?”

Oh God, hard question, what is a tankini? It has ‘tank’ in it! What is she trying to tell me?

The girl stared up at me through long dark bangs. My stunned silence gives her all the answers she needed.

“OKaaaay.” She exhaled through pursed lips sending the bangs flying. “Why don’t you try both styles?” The hangers accumulated on her arm faster than the colors registered in my mind.

“Do you like stripes?”

“Yeah, sure, I guess.”

So here I am, cooling off in the first suit. A ‘Marilyn’ style top in soft pink partnered with a skimpy black bottom belted in pink and white stripes. I am shoving my full panel panties into the sides of the bikini bottom when she knocks.

“How’s it going in there?”

“Excellent, thanks. Your stock is very nice, great quality.”

She doesn’t answer. I open the door a crack and she’s giving me a relaxed smile, hands at her sides.

“I like that top, quite a bit. Would you like me to tie it tighter? Give you a bit more support?”

“Ok.” I let her in the door. I like this girl. She’s not too pushy. Not at all like those commission hungry women in the high end dress shops:

“Ahhhh, yes that’s the one! Definitely you! With some beautiful jewelry you’ll knock his socks off!” Wink, wink.

In the mirror I witness the difference she makes with the ties at my neck and across my back.

“How’s the bottom? You don’t want it too baggy; it needs to be tight because it will stretch in the water.”

“Oh,” I inspect the Lycra choking my white thighs.

She goes and closes the door. In the mirror I study the cellulite again; it advances over new territory every year. I have a nice tan on my arms and legs but it stops six inches from the edges of the suit where my bone white skin magnifies the puckers; proof I have been hiding under t-shirts and capris all summer.

When was the last time I shopped for a swim suit? For so many years I bought black one-pieces off sale racks just so I’d have something to wear in the pool when I took my toddlers swimming.

What is wrong with me? I promised myself I would loose weight for this trip. How hard is it to do ten sit-ups a day? The tears start but I turn them away, refusing to give in. I am determined to get this over with tonight. I remind myself that I will be alone with my husband most of the time and he’s seen the good and the bad. For pity’s sake, this is what adult women look like.

I agree to treat myself at the book store after I choose a suit.

The next top, striped in green, white, pink and black, exposes rolls under my armpits. The matching bottom is even lower cut along the front than the last one.

“Hello?” She’s back again.

I open the door and whisper, “I think I‘m loosing my nerve; maybe bikinis aren’t for me after all.” I pinch one chubby armpit for evidence.

When our eyes meet again she tells me firmly, “You CAN wear this. You’re FINE.”

I am the first to look away. “Thank you.” I close the door.

I pick up the suit I had eyed from the beginning. It is dark burgundy, not a flashy beach color, but it is nice next to my skin; it seems a bit more dignified, understated.

When I see myself in the bikini top and matching board skirt, I know I have my suit. I haven’t chickened out with a one-piece but the skirt provides enough lower coverage so that I won't have to look at all the chunky areas at the same time. Actually, I am beginning to feel quite pretty.

Taking a deep breath I leave the safety of the change room.

At the other end of the hallway I spot two women my mother’s age showing off their selections, oblivious to me. I see my sales girl isn’t the only one trained to instill some confidence.

I smile at them and make my way to the cash desk.

And it didn’t hurt at all.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Truusje Harwig on Tuesday, September 6th, 2005 at 4:02 AM
Hurrah for the more refined, maturer, but not OLD, woman !

Posted by kate munoz on Tuesday, September 6th, 2005 at 10:35 AM
a beautiful and touching story that many of us can relate to! well said Anna! I totally related! :-)

Posted by Tracy Watson on Tuesday, September 6th, 2005 at 10:07 PM
Another job well done Anna! I am so proud of you.

Posted by Michelle Klein on Wednesday, September 7th, 2005 at 1:46 PM
so well put Anna! You have such a strong voice Michelle

Posted by Patricia Parkinson on Wednesday, September 7th, 2005 at 5:18 PM
This is wonderful Anna, it felt like you were following me while I was shopping for myself, nicely done. xoxo



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