"What are the rules for bathing suit and bikini shopping? What looks good on pear shapes or apple shapes or small busts or big busts or short girls or tall girls?" I ask, wanting to know from a professional at Change Lingerie just exactly what kind of suit would look good on my apple-shaped, short bodied, small-busted body.
But even more, I wanted to know what I could recommend to readers of all shapes and sizes.
"The rules are...that there are no rules. If you put the suit on and you feel comfortable in it, well, then it's the right suit for you. It's about a feeling, you see. I would recommend that you get a proper bra fitting first—since most women are wearing the wrong-sized bras," she says, making me re-think everything I have ever known about my body and bathing suits.
"For example, what size is the bra you are wearing?"
"Everyone seems to be a 34B. But you are not."
"No. You are a 28F."
We invited three YMC bloggers—Andrea, Sharon, and yours truly—and two YMC members— Alana and Alanna—to meet up at the Change Lingerie store in Oakville, Ontario for a bra fitting and full swimsuit shopping experience.
The mission: Take five moms of different shapes and sizes and find each one a swimsuit that fits, that she feels good about, that she feels confident wearing, and that she is willing to be photographed in.
As you can see, we followed the rule that there are no rules.
A bathing suit-ready or bikini-ready body really IS when you take a body and put a bathing suit on it.
The staff did for us what they do for all their customers—they took our bra measurements and found the correct fit. Change Lingerie offers over 90 size combinations (including the aforementioned 28F, of course) including cup sizes all the way up to K. And then we tried them. We laughed and giggled and maybe cried just a wee bit while we tried on suit after suit. Stripes, solids, ruching, polka dots. Red, purple, blue, black. One piece, two pieces. Boy shorts, bikinis.
Five very different bodies; five very different suits.
Andrea is wearing the Miami Beach Bikini plunge top, $40, and the Miami Beach bikini hipster, $27.
Alana is wearing the Coco Beach top, $40, and the Coco Beach bikini hipster, $40.
Sharon is wearing the Clearwater Beach top, $40 and the Clearwater Beach bikini hipster, $20.
Alanna is wearing the Retro swimsuit, $93.95.
I know that for me, bathing suit shopping was always up there with having oral surgery and having a pap smear—it was a necessary evil. If I wanted to take advantage of our friends with pools and if I want to have something to wear while chasing my children at the beach, a bathing suit was nothing short of a requirement.
While in a bathing suit, I used to have this nasty little habit of noticing everything un-perfect about myself—you know exactly what I'm talking about, right?
But recently, I had something of change of heart. A change of confidence, if you will. As the mom to two girls, and as the mom to a boy who suddenly has a bit of an interest in girls, I realize that it's my responsibility to believe the words I tell them. My body isn't perfect—it's nowhere near it. But my body is AWESOME because of all of the wonderful things it has done, it currently does, and has the potential to do. I want my children to be confident to wear bathing suits without hiding underneath cover-ups. I want them to run on the beach and play in the ocean and jump in the pool feeling good about themselves. And they learn this from me. They see me, they watch me, they know me.
And now they will know that I walked into Change Lingerie that day last week, stripped to my skivvies and tried on suit after suit, until I chose the Minnie Mouse/50s pin-up suit. Do I look perfect? Nowhere near it. But look at me smiling—it was a great fit, and made me feel good about myself.
Ali is wearing the Miami Beach swimsuit, $60.
If the smiles on the five of us are any indication, I'd say this: Mission complete.