July 2, 2013 by talkaboutyork
I stood clutching my bulging Boots bags, filled with sun lotions, wax strips, insect repellent, immodium, senekot and other holidays essentials, while trying to use my free hand to look at the size labels on the swimsuits. After tangling hangers together and knocking various items onto the M&S floor, I conceded defeat, put the bags down and started having a proper search.
Surely? Surely there must be a swimsuit that came in the right size and that wasn’t a vile colour or have a little floral skirt attached like something from the 1950s. I’d already abandoned Monsoon and their wispy dental floss bikinis which come in sizes small, extra small and extra, extra small. In other words, bikinis for teenagers or someone I used to look like.
But I’m forty now. M&S is apparently where I should go shopping for swimwear. It’s all about tummy control hidden panels and low cut legs and sensible bra support. All of which, sadly, I need. But what size? Do I get my regular 12? When did the tops of size 12 get so small? Do I admit defeat and move up a size? Possibly two for the top half?
Juggling about ten different hangers and my Boots bags, I made my way to the change room. After being safely ensconced in a cubicle, I was told by the cheery helper to just let her know if I need anything (I wanted to ask if she offered tummy tucks or liposuction but she had swanned off).
I began to try them on.
There is something almost inhumane about dressing room cubicles, or veal fattening pens as I like to think of them. For a start they have mirrors. Secondly, they have cellulite enhancing lighting which manages to both accentuate wrinkles and dimples while simultaneously sucking any natural tan you may have out of your skin.
So I stood there in my not fancy knickers and breathed in, trying to regain the shape I once had pre-children. If I hold my breath in really hard and use my hands to pull the skin of my stomach tight at the same time, it almost looks like I’m an 18 year old. Or not.
Anyway, I tried on the blue and white swirly print number first. Size 14 was too big. Size 12 too small. I tried the matching bikini after that, which served only to point out that any pencils I may wish to tuck under my bosom (as you do to test, erm, droopage) would have been very safely stored there for the duration of my summer holiday, handy should I wish to do an impromptu cross word puzzle alongside the pool.
I moved onto the polka dots, the multi-colour florals, the three way block colour – all with hidden secret support sucking in panels. Those panels may indeed suck in your tummy but they seem to send all the fat to your thighs in some kind of weird fat emigration policy.
I decided that it was all too much and needed to take a break, to make use of the facilities. I was the youngest person in the queue by twenty years.
‘Really?’ I thought. ‘Is this what I have become? A little old lady who shops for tummy control swimsuits in M&S who apparently has the same bladder control as the rest of the customers.’
I tried not to weep and returned to the swimwear department. I tried on one of every single style.
After I carried an enormous tangle of hangers and swimsuits back out to the assistant, she took one look at me and didn’t even bother to say ‘Any good?. She just said: ‘You’re not having a good day are you?’
No, shop lady, I am not having a good day. Because today I was having my annual, ‘Oh god, it’s summertime and I am about to go lie next to a pool for two weeks and no-one, including myself, has really had to look at this body since, well, this time last year. And honestly, no-one should have to. But my swimsuit from last year now has a saggy arse and a see through top so I am forced to go on this annual pilmagrage of self-flagellation in swimsuit changing cubicles.’
I didn’t say that. I smiled and walked out of the shop, swinging my Boots bags and walked straight to the cake shop. Because frankly, it if I’m going to have to buy tummy control swimwear, I want to get my money’s worth.