I couldn’t find a swimsuit for my body, so I sewed one

Fo For me, summer has always been synonymous with swimsuits. I grew up in Florida, just 15 minutes from the beach, and I can remember all of my favorite swimsuits over the years, as well as the memories associated with them. There was the orange Day-Glo suit with black trim that he wore when he was eight years old, eating ribs by the charcoal grill at a family barbecue. Later, there was the first momentous bikini at the age of 13, a pink tankini with hibiscus flowers, worn on a school trip to a water park, where I was more often than not stalking my crush at the slush stand. And even later, a skimpy turquoise bikini I spent my entire high school salary on and then wore all summer, strolling the beach with the windows rolled down, wearing nothing but a pair of leggings over my suit.

Whenever I tried to describe to my husband the bum culture of my youth, I would say, “We all wore our bathing suits under our clothes. Because you knew you would only drive to the beach after school. The swimsuit was like a second skin. So what I want to say is that swimsuits meant something to me back then. They still do it.

Now, we live in inland Ohio, where the pools don’t open until Memorial Day. Like me, my daughter is a water baby. She has a stack of bathing suits that she moves around in, clamoring for any hint of cold water to jump into. Her delight always seeps into me too.

But this year, when I went to try on the swimsuits, I found that I didn’t have any left. This tense routine of squirming and moaning is probably familiar to others, but it seems particularly harrowing this year. The pandemic and the anxieties that come with it have changed my body to the point where I sometimes have difficulty recognizing myself in the mirror. I have felt embarrassed when stepping on the scale, although my more rational side understands that weight is just a number. For a while, I pretended nothing was different, squeezing into my clothes that didn’t fit me. But swimsuits don’t lie. I would have to get a new one.

She knew exactly what she wanted: a retro-style green jersey with some ruching. Something that I could wear comfortably while chasing my daughter in and out of the community pool.

I bought more swimsuits online than I can count. I tried tankinis, ruched one-pieces and sporty bikinis. Each promised flattering lines, a clean silhouette. Each did not keep their promise. I even went to stores, braving fluorescent lights and unflattering mirrors to try them on. But time and time again, he was dissatisfied. At first, I thought it was my body. But then I realized: it’s not me. It’s the swimsuits.

These days, most swimsuits come in a limited variety of sizes (XS–XL, if you’re lucky), and those sizes fail to contain the variation in women’s bodies. For example, I have a pear shape, so swimsuits that fit around my bust are not balanced at the bottom. After weeks of trying to put on outfits that weren’t made for me, I made a decision.

I was done adjusting to an industry standard that doesn’t inherently celebrate women’s bodies. If I am going to raise my daughter with a sense of self-love, I need to find that love for myself and my changing body, which has carried me through a pandemic and the stressors that have buried us all. So I turned to the sewing community.

I’ve been a seamstress for a number of years, and part of the appeal, aside from the obvious one of creating your own bespoke clothing, is that this community celebrates the diversity of bodies. Couture Instagram accounts feature many body types, every woman looks absolutely stunning in her handmade outfits. Several of these women were creating their own swimsuits. The beauty of sewing your own swimsuit is the ability to completely customize the fit. You’re not trying to fit your body into something, you create the suit to fit your body. This mental shift began the work of slowly but surely erasing the shame from my body.

You’re not trying to fit your body into something, you create the suit to fit your body. This mental shift began the work of slowly but surely erasing the shame from my body.

With a spark of hope, I purchased a beautiful kelly green fabric. I found a pattern with exactly my specifications and started sewing. Along the way, I merged sizes and enlarged the bottom of the suit. I tightened the halter straps to account for my smaller torso. A few days, and a few pricked fingers later, I tried on my finished suit. fits that plus that fit. It complemented my body, so I wanted to preen in front of the mirror, like I used to when I was young.

I used it for the first time in a hotel pool, on a family trip out of town. When I came out of the bathroom in my green suit, my daughter gasped, “Mommy! Can you make me one just like it? That day we played Marco Polo, laughing as we splashed water on our faces. We jump through those plastic rings that you throw on the floor of the pool. And then, as I lay on one of the loungers, I looked at my suit and thought, “I love this second skin of mine.”

Every body is a beach body”, right? Still, navigating the summer can be a challenge. This week, Well+Good publishes All Bodies Are Beach Bodies: A Down-to-earth Guide to Getting Ready for Summer to help you maintain your confidence, embrace joyful movement, manage sweat, create meaningful memories, and find the best swimwear inspiration. throughout the summer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.