What modest swimwear says about my body image

A swimwear lesson I wish I’d have learned years ago

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I can’t remember the last time I was excited to go shopping for swimwear for myself. Maybe when I was a young child? But at least from high school on, shopping for swimwear has been a nightmare. I’d daresay my feelings are shared by the majority of women.

If ever there were a time to be self conscious about your body, wearing a swimsuit is one of them. Swimwear isn’t as forgiving as clothes. It is certainly much more exposed. The whole thing is stressful to me.

What modest swimwear says about my body image

But, here’s the rub: I like swimming. I always have loved the water and feel at peace in and near the water. I grew up swimming constantly during warm weather. Even though I sometimes get sun poisoning (a rash from sun exposure), I still love swimming. On family vacations to the ocean, I’d often wear a long-sleeved T-shirt or my aunt would take me to the indoor pool.

And that’s also in spite of being sensitive to chlorine thanks to my bladder. You’d think with all of that going on PLUS being uncomfortable in a swimsuit that I wouldn’t like swimming. Yet, I do.

Not a sideline mom

Even more importantly these days, I want to enjoy water activities with my children. I don’t want to have to sit on the sidelines unless absolutely necessary. I’ve had times that I’ve had to sit on the sidelines because of chlorine, but I don’t want to do so just because of my body issues. And, let’s be honest here, getting older combined with having two babies hasn’t improved my phsyique.

However, I determined when my daughter was a preschooler and first asked to go to a community pool and splash pad that we often drove by that I wouldn’t be stuck on the sideline. I decided to put on my swimsuit (a one piece that was probably a decade old since I hadn’t been swimming so much) and just have fun with my kiddo. The last thing I wanted was to have her end up feeling self conscious in a bathing suit as well.

The other moms around me wore all sorts of swimwear styles. I could pick out those who were also uncomfortable but were trying to just enjoy the time with their kids. I decided then and there that I didn’t want to have any discomfort about being in a swimsuit. Everyone else was too busy with their own body issues to worry about my body, and even more importantly, their opinions don’t matter to me. What matters to me is my kiddos. I won’t get this time back with them!

A swimwear update

After that day at the community pool, I decided to update my suit. So I did some shopping. I hadn’t had a two-piece bathing suit for myself since I was a preschooler myself. But, I found that tankinis were popular but also nice for if you need to make a bathroom break and such. I also liked that with a black bottom I could have different tops and have more options.

What modest swimwear says about my body image

So I got my first two-piece bathing suit as an adult and liked it. I found another tankini top on clearance at Target at the end of summer and picked it up. However, I found that I still didn’t feel so great even in the new swimwear. I was still more exposed than I was comfortable with.

The next summer on a beach trip, I got a sunburn on my chest in spite of all the sunscreen I lathered on. That skin wasn’t usually in the sun. But, I kept the same suits for a couple of years. After all, they were better than what I’d had before. I didn’t love them, but they were OK.

Then last summer, I found my daughter a swimsuit that came with a rash guard (T-shirt style top) instead of a tank top for the first time in a few years. While I have sensitive, fair skin, my redheaded daughter has even paler skin. I loved that the more coverage of the rash guard meant less skin to worry about slathering in SPF 50. My son has always liked wearing rash guards instead of going shirtless and I like the benefit of sun protection for him.

Somehow for the first time last summer, I realized I could also look for a rash guard for myself. I knew locally I had never seen any, but now I lived in the age of online shopping. I could change my way of thinking.

A new swimwear perspective

I did some searching on Amazon and found a women’s rash guard I liked. So, I ordered it. It arrived the day I was packing up my kids to go swimming at my cousin’s pool. I put it on over my bathing suit top and LOVED it! The rash guard gave me more coverage for sun protection and was a T-shirt style, more like my usual clothes. (I don’t even wear tank tops.)

This is the women’s rash guard I got. The only difference is when I ordered it, I was able to pick one with flowers down the sides.

When a family friend stopped by to chat, I was comfortable to just stand there and talk without feeling the need to quickly grab my cover-up.

The rash guard was awesome but didn’t have a built-in bra. I didn’t want to always have to wear a tankini top underneath, so I did some more research and looking. Before an indoor water park trip last fall, I bought a swimsuit bra, a loose tankini top with a scoop neck instead of being lower cut and boyshort swim bottoms.

Being able to wear a T-shirt and shorts to go swimming made me relax. Even the new tankini top was great because I didn’t have more chest exposed than I was comfortable with. I was able to relax more.

Modesty doesn’t mean shame

What I learned throughout this process is that being modest in my swimwear selections like I am in my regular clothes doesn’t mean I’m ashamed of my body. It doesn’t look like I want it to. I have some extra pounds, but it’s the body that carried my babies. And it is what it is. If someone is appalled by it, they don’t have to look at it. I’m too old and have too many memories to make with my family to worry about the opinions of others.

I also, though, don’t buy into the popular thought that I have to prove I’m OK with my body type by showing it off. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I’m happy in my more modest swimwear because that’s what makes me more comfortable. Am I judging other moms in bikinis and more revealing swimwear? Nope. I just know what I feel good about for myself.

Honestly, my next swimwear purchase will be longer swim short bottoms that are more bermuda length swim shorts, which is the length I wear for my regular clothes anyway.

The age of the Internet is a great one for giving us different options. I still haven’t see any of the swimwear I most like for sale in person around where I live. But, I’m happy to have the option to order it online and feel better about what I’m wearing for water fun. I only wish I’d have done this sooner!

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