Fanny Durrack (left) and Mina Wylie, Australian swimmers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I went to buy new swimmers yesterday.
Shopping for a new swimming costume when you’re over 40 must be up there with admitting how much weight you haven’t lost at a Weightwatchers meeting; in terms of excruciating embarassment.
Because designers are still not catering for middle-aged women, and that makes it so hard for us. Not to mention our self-esteem.
There are two clothing items that no middle-aged woman likes to buy – swimming costumes and jeans. They’re just so hard to get right when your body decides to re-define itself with age.
Luckily, on this occasion, I wasn’t looking for impractical ‘fashion’ swimmers – the ones you flaunt your body in as you still try to pose provocatively on the beach hoping that you’ve still got it, (all the while knowing that you haven’t).
No, I was looking for a practical, full piece suit to aid my new Olympic training sessions at the 50m pool. (Yes, you heard right – I did say 50m).
My weekly dips have obviously pushed my loyal Target swimmers to the limit of their endurance. The chlorine rot is so bad now that holes have appeared in the nipple area and the fabric sags badly everywhere else, so my boobs free-fall to the sides mid breaststroke. It was obviously time to get the right equipment – I’m not averse to skinny-dipping in a public pool but the sight of my un-encased breasts is obviously causing a discernible awkwardness among the older set when I pass too closely to them in the lanes.
My mission should have been an easy one. As I mentioned, I wasn’t looking to make a style statement and I had a budget of around a $100 because a) I take my sport VERY seriously and b) I saved it on the food shop by cutting out all the old man’s favourite junk food.
I was quite excited at the prospect, for five minutes.
I think I must have tried on forty sets of swimmers in all, although the sales assistant did remain very calm and professional throughout our ordeal, (yet typically a tad invasive – what’s with them barging in when your tits are hanging down out?). By the thirtieth costume, I had had enough and was ready to capitulate fully and buy this horror of a floral 50’s retro cozzie, partly to get out of the shop, but mainly because it was the only one I could contort my body into that was a size 14.
Generally I am a size 14 12, but do you think I could pull any of the size 12s over my muscular thighs? And even when I did, they were all so damned short in the body that they did a better job than gravity at pulling my boobs further down towards my ankles.
The experience was beyond mortifying for the assistant.
She looked at me pityingly as I stubbornly tried to squeeze my body into each tiny cozzie like sausage meat into a skin. The more I persisted requesting size 14s, refusing to consider any diaphanous suggestion in a size 16, the more she shoved those big motherf*cker maternity costumes in my face.
It was the principle of the matter.
I must have worked off 10kg in that changing room. Ever tried changing swimming costumes with straps that test your IQ, padding in unobvious places, and in a space the size of a toilet cubicle?
But finally, I found the one.
The sales assistant cracked open a bottle while I sat on the floor and wept with joy, sweat pouring down my face.