She unlocks the dressing room door and then steps out of the way for me to enter. I smile, mumble a thank you, and lock it behind me. Turning around, I assess my finds. Will any of these look as good on me as they do on the hanger? I doubt it.
Alas, you can’t go to the pool in Yoga pants (Though I’ve tried. It’s hot.). My suit from last year is stretched out in all the wrong places. This has to be done. (Deep cleansing breath.)
Swimsuit shopping: I loathe it.
But it’s not just me . . . Every woman I know–whether she shops in plus-sized or petitite’s–dreads the day the dressing room mirror casts its judgement on her body in a swimsuit.
Is there an easier way to survive this annual ritual of pain? I think so . . .
I’ve bemoaned swimsuit season and encouraged you through swimsuit season related posts before. But, today I want to give you super practical suggestions on how to actually try on a swimsuit and leave the store without slumping your head into your purse.
Can swimsuit shopping be redeemed?
Read three tips for trying on a swimsuit or watch this video of Heather sharing these tips or share it with a friend who needs to hear this encouragement.
(Note: it starts loud but gets quieter – I promise!):
Tip #1: Don’t look at the tag with the picture of the lovely model wearing the suit.
You will not look like this in the swimsuit you have chosen. Chances are, the model wearing the suit doesn’t actually look like the photo either. Between Photoshop and safety pins, manufacturers can make that picture look exactly how they want it to look. You don’t have this luxury with the mirror. So, avoid the temptation! Ignore her perfect hair (while at the beach, yeah, sure that’s real!). Ignore her blemish-free tanned skin. (She’s been painted!) Ignore this tag. Period.
Trust me: comparing how you look in that suit to how she looks in that suit will not help you. At all.
If you can get away with it (i.e. if the price or UPC code isn’t on it), do yourself a favor and remove it from the suit you want before you bring it home. This will help you avoid the temptation to look later!
Tip #2: Don’t linger.
Get the suit on, look in the mirror, make sure nothing hangs out that should be tucked in. Check your top. Check your bottom. Look to the rear and make sure everything looks rated G back there, then move on. Standing, staring at yourself for minutes-on-end proves unhelpful. Even women with a body type our culture deems “perfect” will find something they don’t like about their appearance if they stare long enough. (“Was that tiny mole on my perfectly sculpted shoulder before? Hmmm…”)
Most can make an accurate assessment of a suit’s fit within seconds of trying it on. (I can tell even earlier, while trying to maneuver it over my thighs and butt!)
Practice the same technique with the next one, and the next. Choose the one that feels most comfortable. Trust your instincts. The suit you initially assess as “best” is likely the one you should choose. If it takes too much analysis or if you “talk yourself into it” you will (likely) regret it later.
(**Please Note: This my recommendation is not because you should be ashamed of your body, but rather because a woman who struggles with her body image will fall into temptation to obsess over it if she starts to stare for too long. If you like looking at yourself in the mirror, well, go ahead. But I’m guessing if you fall into this category nothing in this post has resonated with you and you’re probably reading the wrong blog!)
Oh, one final word on choosing. Don’t be a “clothing optimist!” (A term I coined in a post about cleaning out your closet!) Don’t choose the one that will look good when you lose that ten pounds or the one with the itchy strap that you’d have to replace. If it fits well, right now, and was cute enough for you to pick off the rack, go with your gut.
Tip #3: Don’t lament body love.
Lots of “experts” out there tell you just to love your body, love your cellulite, love your stretch marks . . . If you love your body first, then trying on a swimsuit is easy. So they say. Once you learn to “love what you’ve got” you’ll walk into that dressing room with a string bikini and smile and say “Wow, I look good!”
I’ve searched the whole Bible and there is no express mandate to love your physical body or to embrace the ways it evidences this fallen world. I wrote all about that recently, read it here.
hen trying on swimsuits (and always, really), that we all face the same temptation. No matter what our bodies actually looks like– if you squeeze into a size 22 or find size 4s too roomy–we who wrestle our body image put on virtual reality glasses when we look in dressing room mirrors. What we see, be it close or far from reality, is determined by what our minds and our hearts believe.
Temptation beckons us to look into that mirror and assess our value. We gaze and forget that true life is found in Christ alone, not in a better “bikini body.”
If I look in that dressing room mirror and expect to find my worth validated by the way a new tankini hugs my hips, I will walk away empty. If I stare into that glass searching my reflection for validation that I’m “enough,” I’ll never find it.
But, if my identity is securely rooted in Christ. . . if I know that God has given me a great purpose and, if I remember that he knew that purpose when he designed my body . . .
Then, even though I don’t have model thin legs or flat abs, I can relax and enjoy the summer. I can ask, “Compared to Who?” I’ll have fun in the pool with my children. I’ll walk down the beach with my husband. Then, I can lie on a lounge chair in the sun and relax, knowing that no matter what my culture tells me my body should look like, Jesus loves and accepts me.
(BONUS) Tip #4 Read this:
I promise it will change your summer. And, your life. Get it on Amazon here (affiliate link) or any place Christian books are sold. Answer the questions at the end of each chapter. Ask a friend to do it with you or get copies for your whole small group!
P.S. Compared to Who? tank tops make an AWESOME swim cover-up too!
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i had to go swimsuit shopping today, and left in tears. I used to be anorexic and very thin. I am recovered now, and overweight due to medication I take, and I hate my body 🙁 It has gotten worse and worse, and nothing works. I read your amazing book, and I agreed sith it all. But i have resolved to get liposuction, because I cant take looking like this anymore 🙁
Prayers for you, Pilgrim. Sometimes getting both our heads and our hearts to agree on God’s truth is the hard part. I understand your struggle. No judgement here. Praying that you’ll be able to rest in his grace. Hugs.