I read a survey that listed Making a Public Presentation as the number one fear of adults. They’re wrong. I don’t know what men’s biggest fears are but I can certainly tell you the number one fear for women. It’s not spiders, it’s not mice, it’s not even that slimy clump of hair and goo that you have to pull out of the bathtub drain when the water won’t go down. The biggest fear is trying on bathing suits.
We avoid it as long as we can. My husband doesn’t understand the trauma that women feel when we consider going to buy a new suit. He can’t understand the difference between buying shoes and buying a bathing suit.
It’s easy for him, when summer starts, he just pulls out last year’s bathing suit, tries it on and if it doesn’t fit any more, he goes out and buys a new one. He looks at a few and fifteen minutes later he has a new bathing suit. In fifteen minutes, I haven’t even decided what size I’m looking for. (I’m sure that the sizes get smaller every year – that’s the only explanation I can think of when the size that I wore last time I bought a bathing suit doesn’t fit anymore.)
This year I knew I had to buy a new bathing suit and I looked at one with a little skirt.
I was intrigued because it was advertised as a way to “camouflage problem areas”. Unfortunately their idea of camouflage and my idea were very different. I was expecting an actual skirt. What I saw was a little sash of material strategically placed to make my hips look even bigger. Though in all fairness, in order to camouflage my difficult areas, I would probably have to wear a suit of armor.
A few years ago a company came out with a “revolutionary” bathing suit that let you get a tan right through the material. Great, more uncomfortable places for me to get a painful sunburn. What would be really revolutionary is a bathing suit that would make me look 15 pounds thinner.
The worst part about buying bathing suits is trying them on. I have to get undressed in front of a fun-house mirror with a 200-watt light bulb exposing every cookie and cupcake I ate over the winter (including the ones that I only licked the icing off to save calories). Just thinking about it gives me the shivers that only a chocolate bar can soothe.
Over the years, I’ve developed some rules for bathing suit shopping:
1) Put it off as long as possible.
2) Don’t go shopping right after you eat – that tiny bite of cake you have for dessert can make the difference between a size 10 and a size 14.
3) Don’t go shopping right before you eat. It will ruin your appetite.
4) Don’t go shopping if you have anything else you can possibly do instead such as scrubbing out the inside of the chimney or painting the roof.
5) Never, never, never go shopping with a small child who is likely to loudly say things in the dressing room like, “Mommy why is your skin squishing out of the side of the bathing suit? Is it supposed to look like that?”
Even though I dislike it, I eventually have to give in and buy a bathing suit otherwise I’ll never get into the pool to cool off. Once I get over the shock of buying a bathing suit I’ve got to deal with my second biggest fear – wearing shorts in public.
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Laura Browne is the author of a practical & easy-to-use book for women, Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work. To register for her Free Teleconferences on various topics such as: Are You An Invisible Woman? How To Get Heard, go to inyourfaceink.com (This book is available at the website and at Barnes & Noble online.)
When Laura isn’t writing, she helps women be more successful through WOMEN Unlimited, a nationally recognized resource for cultivating leadership excellence, women-unlimited.com
(This article was originally printed in Cranberry Magazine.)