Encore: Bathing Suits and Blue Jeans

Growing up there were two experiences I abhorred,

one was buying blue jeans

and the other

trying on bathing suits.

It seems as though I have trouble letting go of junior high trauma…and I’m in my forties.

A memory that sits most vividly in my mind takes place in the change room of Wild Bills Work and Western Wear.

I was 12 almost 13.

I was “back to school shopping” with my mother.

I was about to try on what seemed like my twentieth pair of pants, alone, standing in my underwear staring at the dirty beige colour rug in the change room, nothing but a worn black curtain between me and the general public,

when I heard the sales lady tell my mother,

“I think we’re going to have to go into our Husky Boys line.”

At that moment I felt as though I was off to a really, REALLY bad start to my junior high experience.

At 13 I didn’t know how to rock a pair of Husky jeans like a pop star.

Bathing suits are the bane of my existence. Growing up in Northern Alberta with only an outdoor pool for most of my childhood, I never wore anything less than a snowsuit out in public ten months out of the year.

Because swimming was a rarity, I remember EVERY single bathing suit I’ve ever owned. Every time I wore one I felt as though I was putting on a performance…exposing a part of me I never wanted anyone to see.

My first suit was a two-piece swim dress. Orange with a little white sailor anchor appliqué on the chest. I believed swim dresses worked best for me since then because they cover all the wobbly bits nicely.

A person could get along nicely wearing aswim dress, you could blend in with your fellow pool goers with nary a second glance.


when you wear a swim dress to a beach in southern France, as I did many, many years ago, you realize you stick out like a sore thumb because

on beaches in the the south of France “one piece” means bottoms only.

Thankfully you can’t find any bathing suits labeled “Husky”.

Time has passed and nowadays buying jeans isn’t quite so traumatic. I still have this “number” in my mind,

an unrealistic waist measurement carried over from my adolescence.

But this number, most days, holds no power. And a couple of years ago I found a couple of bathing suits  that were everything a bathing suit should be, flattering and capable of a consistent containment of wobbly bits.

Now if only I can find my Zen when buying bras.


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