I Survived Buying My First Bikini After 3 Kids

marilyn monroeLast week I did something I never thought I would do again. I went bikini shopping after having three kids (not all at once). This experience was as shittastic as you might imagine, fraught with self-doubt, some tears and a therapeutic trip to Annie’s Pretzels (and probably some more tears).

In the last year I’ve lost some weight. Okay, a ton of weight, mostly because I gained said weight due to a much needed medication that I’m now, thankfully, off of. But that weight loss felt pretty great anyway, and I realized not too long ago that I might be at the point where I could stop wearing a Lycra mumu and maybe, just MAYBE wear something a little more comfortable to the beach/pool/baby wading pool in my backyard. So off to the mall I went.

I’m not the biggest fan of shopping for anything. I prefer buying things online like a good, red-blooded ‘Murican, in my jammies and Fraggle Rock slippers. But that isn’t something you can really do with swimwear, especially if the type of swimwear I am shopping for is something I haven’t tried since Al Gore was running for president.

Here’s the thing about shopping at the mall. Florescent lights suck. They aren’t flattering to anyone. I could be Gisele Bundchen walking in there and I would look like a sack of potatoes.gisele11

A Lycra sack. Not fun. Then there are those three way mirrors that show of every angle of your body, in the most unfavorable way possible.The whole experience of clothes shopping can be humiliating, even when you’re shopping for something fun. Like shoes. But swimsuits are NOT shoes, in case that isn’t clear.

After braving the florescent lights, the evil mirror monster and the gazillion teenagers who seem to basically live at the mall, I started browsing. When did swimwear become so porno-tastic? Seriously, I’m not Jenna Jameson here, nor I don’t think it’s appropriate to wear a thong to the beach. Hell, even if I AM Jenna Jameson I don’t think that’s okay. No one wants to see my lady bits on a public beach. Well, I’m sure some people would. But not me. This is America. You keep you nudity to yourself (I’m looking at you Carlos Danger).

When buying any piece of clothing after having a mess of kids, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to wear the same styles you did pre-baby. In fact, you probably shouldn’t (unless that’s what you want). I’ve never felt better than the moment I realized that it wasn’t the size of the clothes that mattered, but the fit and how they made me feel. So I tried to apply this to swimwear. Namely by NOT trying on the many ultra-revealing barely-there-string-bikini styles I might have worn as a teenager.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of options. It seems the fashion industry has decided that the average bathing suit shopper is either a teenager or someone who wants to wear a tent to the beach. Literally nothing in between.


At least this was the case at the mall. My next stop was to Marshalls and TJ Maxx where I had a much easier time finding something age appropriate that didn’t remind me of an old timey woolen bathing costume from the 1890s. Even there I struggled to find exactly what I was seeking.

I had thought I was finally comfortable baring my mid-section in public, but in that moment I still felt that same old feelings of doubt. Having even one baby puts a lot of strain on your body. Now imagine that times three. I eat well (most of the time, because grilled cheese for life!) and exercise on a (semi) regular basis, but even if I was in perfect shape there are still stretch marks, fading scars and other blemishes that just make me feel yuckified (that’s a technical term).

There is a lame meme going around social media sites that says something to the effect of “My body isn’t ruined, I’m a tiger that’s earned my stripes.” Now, as LAME as I think most Facebook memes are, this one has a good point. The thing is, I earned  those blemishes. I think we should consider those marks to be less shameful and more a marker of courage and pride. And I shouldn’t feel the need to hide behind a bunch of uncomfortable Lycra at the pool in order to feel okay about myself.

Eventually I found a winner. Not at Marshalls or TJ Maxx. Certainly not at the mall. I found my post-baby bikini at, of all places, Job Lot. Job Lot, for those of you not familiar, is basically a dollar store or discount store. So for the price of a bottle Jack, or two packs of cigarettes here in NYC (I always price things in liquor and cigarette terms, because I am a woman of class and style) I found a great bathing suit that made me feel like a million bucks. Because, like the stupid meme says, I’m a GODDAMN tiger.

stupid tiger meme

(Photo: Truus, Bob & Jan too! / Tumblr/  shadees)

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