Bathing Suit Blues

I face March with both anticipation and dread. The anticipation: the visit from my grandkids during spring break. The dread: the visit from my grandkids during spring break.

The reason? They love to swim and spending quality time with them requires I wear a bathing suit.

So far this season, I’ve avoided revealing too many body parts. The weather has been cooperatively cool, not conducive to swimming. However, in the spirit of their visit, swimwear is part of the dress code.

I own one suit which I find tolerable. Purchased several years ago, it’s a black, one-piece “miracle suit,” designed to create the illusion of a Weight Watchers success story. It embraces my bosom, so I don’t look like I need milking, and covers enough pelvis to avoid a Brazilian waxing. While not particularly
sexy, neither is it dowdy— somewhere between Victoria’s Secret and Talbots, leaning heavily towards Talbots.

Unburying the garment from the bottom-most drawer, I note with alarm that it has developed a noticeable hole. The meaning of this doesn’t escape me—I need a new bathing suit. One must be female and at least middle-aged to fully comprehend the trauma inherent in this situation.

To successfully obtain a flattering garment, I must patronize a shop that employs a good “fitter.” In swimwear-speak, she’s a woman who’s experienced in minimizing muffin tops and other indignities. She understands you’re done with
sassy and sexy. Navigating past the tankinis and bikinis, she halts at the garments with magical concealing properties. Facing racks where no teenager would be caught dead, I heed her suggestions about necklines, pleats, solids and prints. I reject the flowery pattern reminiscent of a tablecloth I once purchased at
Bed Bath & Beyond. I also decide to forgo the animal print, which I fear would make me look like a pregnant cheetah.

Armed only with suits in basic black, I begin the rejection process. Finally, I try one that passes the upper and lower parts test. I soon realize it’s my old suit, adorned with new flourishes and a serious new price tag. No matter. I’ll take it.

At the beach with my darlings, I shed my robe, as confident as Bo Derek, until I notice my daughter staring at me.

Mom,” she says, “you’ve had that suit for years. Isn’t it time for a new one?”

Susan Goldfein holds a doctorate in Communication Disorders from Teachers
College, Columbia University, and enjoyed a successful career as a clinician,
teacher, and consultant. For more essays filled with wit, wisdom and irony,
visit Susan’s blog, Her book, “How Old Am I in
Dog Years?” may be purchased on and


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