How Swimsuit Season Turns Us Into Big Fat Liars

bathing suitsThis can easily become of the most dreaded times of the year for many of us, if only because it's bathing suit season. Media and advertising have us believing we're practically supposed to sweat bullets over what styles look best on our body types, what cover-ups look the most chic and least muu-muu-ish, what kinds of cellulite cream will do nothing for "reduce the appearance of" our various lumps and bumps. That's just what we do every summer, right?

But according to a new survey of about 1,000 women 18 years old and up, conducted for ShopSmart (which is from the publisher of Consumer Reports), we're not falling into that trap of self-hatred so easily anymore!

Only about 18 percent of respondents didn't like how they look in a bathing suit, while 40 percent are impartial, and 36 percent are "OK with it." Apparently, this is good, exciting, happy news, because so few women reported being unhappy with how they look.


The editor of ShopSmart attributes this "encouraging" news to "more flattering, slimming bathing suits" being available now than ever before. Yep, sounds great. It would be even better if it was true.

First of all, to say a sampling of just over 1,000 women represents all women or even all American women is ridiculous. And maybe 18 percent of these respondents admitted that they didn't like how they looked, but I'll bet the other 76 percent were trying to sound blase or more positive than they actually were. Who can blame 'em? Are you going to admit to some random magazine-sponsored survey your real, potentially negative feelings about your flabby tummy, droopy breasts, or chunky thighs? Doubtful. 

Because as fear-mongering as the media and fashion industries can be about bathing suit season, we suck it in and up, and put our best bikini or one-piece forward. Most of us think, "I am going to put on a bathing suit whether I like it or not, because my other choice would just be to refuse to enjoy myself at the pool or beach all summer, and that's not gonna happen!" And not letting on that we're not thrilled with how we look is a helpful defense mechanism that goes right into our beach bag, along with our sunblock, sunglasses, and sarong.

Sorry, but one dopey little survey can't convince me that because there are more flattering swimsuits out there now, more women have a healthier self-image. We might be more pleased with our selections, but most of us are still beating ourselves up mentally ... and sometimes verbally, usually behind closed (fitting room?) doors. I've heard it from friends and strangers in retail stores time and again ... "I feel fat," "I can't believe I'm a size (fill in the blank)," "My stomach that," mixed in with a not-so-healthy dose of "My breasts this" and "My butt, OMG."

Yes, there are women who are in love with how they look in their bathing suits, but they're still the minority. It's sad, but true. We still have to shake the years of cultural scare tactics and discrimination against all different types of bodies. We have a long way to go to fully accepting ourselves as we are ... and in our swimwear.

Do you like how you look in a bathing suit? Be honest!


Image via Jenene Chesbrough/Flickr

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