So it’s January, but I’ve already begun thinking about the always-impending swimsuit season. My voluptuous body, combined with a desire to be modest, and further combined with a few self-consciousness issues usually makes the processes of buying and wearing a swimsuit more frustrating than fun.
Every year I find myself at the cross-section of three troublesome bathing suit issues- fashion, function, and faith.
Fashion. I like to wear things that are interesting and that I feel I can brand with the “Juliet” stamp. I’m attracted to things that are different, quirky, and unexpected (while still being tasteful). This is done easily with dresses and jewelry, but is nearly impossible in the realm of swimwear. The cuts for bikinis, tankinis, and one-pieces are extremely common and the patterns are usually *yawn* boring. Cherries, hibiscus flowers, stripes and polka-dots basically sums it up. There is usually little embellishment or other detailing that typically gives clothes a “oooo wow” factor.
Function. In case you haven’t gotten the memo about my boobs, read this. Now, if you think that buying a bra to fit a set of 34Gs is hard, you’re in for a world of hurt when I tell you about the bathing suit issues. The vast, vast majority of swimsuits fit me in one of two ways; they either offer no chest support, or I am spilling out all over the place. This is because a suit with “cups” large enough to handle my girls is too big around the rib cage to fit well or offer any support, while a suit that is snug enough to keep things together will usually have “cups” far too small to be considered tasteful on my physique.
Faith. Really, this section should be called “Modesty”, but I am just a sucker for alliteration. Up until very recently, I was of the understanding that bikinis wear against the rules of the church and that bikini wearers were openly and shamelessly lacking in faith and obedience. Well, I let someone else do the legwork for me, and it seems that wherever my anti-bikini attitude had come from, it wasn’t from any place official.
Now, I think that modesty is a principle that one who is striving to be like Christ should always embody- in dress, in action, and in attitude. But who gets to decide what is modest and what isn’t? I mean, in normal, endowed life, modesty standards are fairly clear. But if we really think that it’s God’s law that are shorts go to our knees and our shoulders are covered, why aren’t we making sure to wear these to the pool? Or how about, less offensively, something more like this? We obviously allow for serious deviation from typical standards of modesty in dress when it comes swimwear.
At the intersection of fashion, function, and faith, I am wedged between these issues:
- I want to be modest, but I am not willing to search the entire earth for a suit that keeps my chest from calling attention to itself.
- One-piece suits and tankinis typically have very little chest support.
- I generally dislike the look of most one-pieces and tankinis. They are either too young, too old, or just trying too hard to not be too old.
Now I think I have a solution to my problem: A bra sized bikini top with a high-waisted “bikini” bottom. Something along these lines, if you can look past the boring retro styling.
I can hardly believe that I am posting this, seeing as that is a bikini and I swore in my wrath that I would never wear such a thing. But if I were to wear a tankini that revealed two inches of lower abdomen, nobody would be calling me immodest. So, if I wear a swimsuit that reveals a few inches of upper-abdomen, shouldn’t that be okay, too?
But I am still going around in circles- I feel like I’m not at all grounded in what it means to be modest while also wearing a swimsuit. I don’t want to be immodest, but I also don’t want to wear something that is ugly and ill-fitting.
And then there is the “don’t give men bad thoughts” issue- the idea that women and girls in “immodest” swimwear are a stumbling block to our fellow brothers who can’t focus on their priesthood duties because they have become too consumed with lust over their scantily clad bodies!
My sarcasm isn’t meant to imply that men don’t become distracted over immodest women or that women shouldn’t be concerned about how they are being viewed by those around them. But I don’t feel compelled to take responsibility for the thoughts and/or actions of another person. If God himself came down and said, “Girlfriend, this bathing suit turns the boys on, don’t wear it. This one, on the other hand, gives them no such feelings”, then, and you had better believe, that I would wear the one that wasn’t giving anybody any kind of feelings. But God hasn’t said that, and so i feel like I will just drive myself insane if I try to rid myself of any shadow of sex appeal.
I am struggling here, and my struggle is scattered and sort of undefined. I just want to wear a bathing suit that I like and that is functional and is modest, but it isn’t so easy. What are your thoughts? How do you decide what is appropriate and what is not? I want to hear what people have to say on the issue.
Or we could just say to hell with the swimsuits and go skinny dipping.