Buying a new swimsuit strikes dread into the heart of a woman. Or at least of those women who are past a certain age, and a certain size. We look in the mirror in the changing room and see only the flaws. We try on different styles and shapes and colours, all in the quest to find the most flattering. Sometimes it can take hours, or several visits to different shops.
So imagine my distress last weekend when, newly arrived at the wonderfully named Sunshine Beach on Australia’s Sunshine Coast – two hours’ drive from my home – I discovered I had not packed my swimsuit! Nothing for it, said the friend with whom I was staying, but to go out immediately and buy a new one. Before I had time to think of any reasonable excuse, she had marched me off to the nearest swimwear shop and was hauling them off the racks and shuffling me into the changing room.
And something amazing happened. After trying on only three, I found one I liked. It looked good. It felt comfortable. I liked the colour (a deep sky blue). It was an expense I could have lived without – but the surf was beckoning and summer is here, so I bought it.
We headed for the beach. Swimming between the flags – the area patrolled by lifeguards – we bounded into the surf. The water was balmy – 26 degrees Celsius – but the surf was boisterous. It was invigorating, energising and lots of fun. The waves were big and as I came up from a tumble, my friend waved urgently at me from the other side of the swell. Puzzled at her frantic hand motions, I looked down.
Not the perfect pair of togs, after all. The top of my expensive new one-piece had fallen down, baring my breasts to the horizon. Hitching it up again, and tightening the straps, I was once more modest and swimming happily. But with every wave, my modesty took another dive. This, clearly, was a swimsuit more suited to the swimming pool than the rigours of body surfing.
But in Australia, summer is here – and all we could do was laugh, keep swimming and keep a vigilant eye on my chest. Whatever you call them where you live – swimmers, bathers, togs, a cossie – a swimsuit is an essential for summer. Don’t leave home without one.