West Coasting

West Coasting

Written by Lisa Goich

It’s that time of year again – you know which one. When you ‘round the corner in your favorite department store to see the winter coat displays replaced with bathing suits. At first the sight sparks the thought: Yay! Summer’s coming! You imagine sunshine and picnics, boat rides and bonfires. But reality sets in, and your thoughts quickly changes to: Ugh, summer’s coming. Every year it’s an unwelcome reminder: Oops! I should have stuck to my New Year’s diet resolution!

I saw a meme the other day that read: “Bikini season is right around the corner. Unfortunately, Pizza Hut is closer.” Why is it so much easier – and joyful – to eat an entire deep dish pizza than it is to work out for an hour every day to get your body in tip-top bathing suit shape?

Search “beach body” or “bikini body” and you’ll get thousands of pages of tips and advice on exercises and diets. “6 Weeks To 6 Pack Abs!” “7 Days To The 7 Seas!” “Lunge Your Way To Your Dream Booty!” It’s really a pressure that none of us need. The perfect scenario would be that all of us, no matter our shape or size, would be free to flaunt our loveliness without judgement. Until that happens, we have to make do.
After doing a little research on the history of the bathing suit, I came to the conclusion that I was born at entirely the wrong time in history.

The revolution in women’s swimwear began some-where in the early 1800s. Prior to this, covering up in the sun was fashionable. Keeping the skin white was the goal, so women donned bonnets and shawls and even gloves to keep the rays at bay. Women even sewed weights into the hems of their “bathing gowns” so that the garment wouldn’t float to the surface and reveal their legs underneath. (Note to self: Buy bathing gown weights.)

In 1810, beach-specific clothing made its way into fashion magazines, with headlines such as: “Fashion-able Sea-Side Walking Dress – La Belle Assemblee Fashions.” The description would read: “A gown of white French cambric, or pale pink muslin, with long sleeves, and antique cuffs of thin white muslin worn over trowsers of white French cambric, which are trimmed the same as the bottom of the dress. A figured short scarf of pale buff, with deep pale-green border, and rich silk tassels; with gloves of pale buff kid; and sandals of pale yellow, or white Morocco, complete this truly simple but becoming dress.”
Ahhhhh… the swim dress! “White French cambric,” (whatever that is) sounds so glorious, doesn’t it? Now that’s something I could embrace! Variations of this style stuck around for most of the 1800s. But as seaside activities became more popular, so did the need for a less cumbersome swim contraption for the ladies.
Then the darned 1910s had to come along and ruin it for all of us. Gone were the days of modesty and, in-stead, body-baring swimsuits that cut at the knees and showed (gasp!) arms came into fashion. As women made their way from frolicking in the shallows to actu-ally competitively participating in swimming like their male companions, the one-piece swimsuit was born. It hugged the body a little closer and revealed body parts that were once off limits to the sun, and prying eyes.
And then, well you know, the 1960s rolled in and so did the modern day bikini. Though the bikini was in-vented in 1946 ( by Parisian engineer Louis Réard who named the swimsuit after Bikini Atoll, where testing on the atomic bomb took place. Seems fitting, no?) it took almost a couple of decades for it to be accepted as public beach attire. Once it was accepted, there was no turning back. The last time I looked great in a bikini was in 1969. I was seven.
Cut to current day, and thanks to the bikini, we now have things like bikini waxing and spray tanning. You wouldn’t need either of those if you had your trusty French cambric gown with the hem weights!
So what does one do if they are swimsuit-phobic, short of not leaving the house all summer long?
If I could just stay in the water, a swim suit wouldn’t be a problem. It’s the walk from my chair to the water, and vice versa, that presents an issue. If you’re in the same boat (no pun intended) perhaps my swimming routine might help you get through this season un-scathed. It goes a little something like this:
•Wrap towel around bottom half of your body.
•Sit down at the side of the pool (near the steps, this will come in handy later) with feet dangling in the water.
•In a single, swift motion, unwrap towel as you slide into the pool, leaving the towel at the side of the pool.
•Swim a couple of laps. Splash around a bit then reverse the process, which is slightly more difficult than entering. •Note: Never attempt to exit the pool from the deep end!
•Swim back to the shallows, pray that your towel is still sitting at the edge of the pool, grab the towel with one hand, while walking up the steps.
•As soon as the water is at knee level, wrap towel back around waist and head to your chair.
•Once seated, unwrap towel and enjoy the sun!
Meanwhile, look for me poolside in my leggings and long t-shirt. Eating pizza.