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As bikini season nears, let swimsuit fears begin

Despite a week featuring raw, wet days with “Aunty Em” caliber winds, oh, look! According to television commercials, it’s swimsuit season again and gals, you’d better rush out now before they’re all gone at Macy’s/Belk/Ross.

Not me, baby. I stopped enduring that annual ritual of torture years ago. It’s difficult to decide, really, what is worse: getting a mammogram or buying that suit. There’s a lot of squishing involved in both (and if you’ve got nothing up top, like me, the mammogram sensation is something like a rather sensitive part of your anatomy being caught in a mouse trap), but at least after a relatively short time, the mammogram is over.

Not so with buying a new swimsuit. Because there is no way you’re going to luck out after trying on one. Your point of view after 40 minutes changes from, “What is going to look good on me,” to “OK, which one won’t make me burst into tears?”

Just the thought of shopping completely creeps me out: to try something on that someone else, or 12, has tried on, au naturale, is less than appetizing. And, from experience, let me just say that as tempting as it might be, trying on swimsuit bottoms over your underpants is not a good look, especially if you venture outside the dressing room to find it in a larger size.

In a three-way glass, every lump, bump and orange peel is shown to us and we women end up adopting the same pose we see in photos of penguins looking down at their babies: head and shoulders stooped, morose and defeated.

Why do we do it when we know that there is no such thing as real-life photoshop? Surely the light of the sun is kinder than flickering fluorescent light tubes, but I just don’t see the point of subjecting oneself to such masochistic behavior. Why don’t we simply do what men do? Men just basically wear loose trunks. So what do you say, girls? A bikini top and, if you’re 16 and a size 6, some Daisy Dukes. Or if you’re older and haven’t had a Pilates session in awhile, some “mom jeans” cut offs! Keep the waist high enough and no one need ever know you inhaled a half dozen Krispy Kremes for breakfast.

But if you’re really brave and dare to be completely liberated, you can follow traditional European behavior and wear nothing at all. I was in Spain the first time I saw that, and not on a private, nudist beach that I just happened to stumble upon, either. Most people, including women of all sizes, had their tops off, along with their families. In fact, I felt exceedingly self conscious that I had mine on! I stuck out like a very thin and pale sore thumb, looking like a mime in a tankini. So I may just have to follow their lead the next time I’m in that part of the world ... How wonderful, really, not to even think about stretch marks and flabby upper arms – to just flop everything you’ve got out there for the whole world to see, and not care as you go for a lovely walk along the Mediterranean with your less-than-perfectly-built mate.

Perhaps leaving the most interesting tracks in the sand!

Reach Pam Stone at pammstone@gmail.com.

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