It was appropriate that as we approached the beach the radio was playing,“She Wore An Itsy-Bitsy, Teenie-Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”
Not that what I was wearing was itsy-bitsy or teenie-weenie or even yellow polka dot.
But it was a bikini.
And I was afraid to come out of the locker.
I had promised my husband that this year I would buy a bikini. (I didn’t promise to wear a bikini – just to buy one.) He didn’t accompany me on that shopping expedition. Which was a good thing, because we stopped into a swimsuit shop on vacation this week before we hit the beach, and he liked a string bikini bottom with a fringed top. Luckily I already had a suit, and was able to demonstrate my frugality – which impresses my husband a lot more than demonstrating my modesty.
Back to the “Itsy-Bitsy” song. I was nine when that song was a hit in 1960. I remembering arguing with my sisters as to whether it was a yellow bathing suit with polka dots or a bathing suit in a different color and the polka dots were yellow. I did not like the ambiguity of the description. I still want precise descriptions today.
And I wondered why this girl would even buy a bathing suit that she was embarrassed to wear.
And now I know.
The level of discomfort in the store dressing room pales besides the intense self-consciousness in the bright sunlit, crowded beach.
Of course, everyone else was wearing a bathing suit. That helped a bit.
There were middle-aged ladies wearing what I used to wear – what my husband called my figure-skating outfit – you know – a full loose top with a little skirt. I was perfectly happy in my skating costume. But now I had a skinnier body and a bikini. I wasn’t sure I was happier.
There was a person in a string bikini with a fringed top. She was (maybe) seventeen.
“See,” my husband said. “You could wear that!”
“I am not only old enough to be her mother. I am old enough to be her grandmother.” I replied. “And that makes you old enough to be her grandfather. So avert your eyes, please.”
I sat under the umbrella, trying to be inconspicuous. I have always found it to be a comfort to find women who look worse than me. But I found myself plagued by the notion that I might be the one giving comfort this time.
“Look at the ridiculous old lady in the blue bikini!” I imagined the snickers of full-skirted women with the sun visors and the white thighs.
I’ll show them, I thought defiantly.
I’ll show them plenty, I thought worriedly.
I got up and walked to the water. A thousand eyes followed me. Or so it seemed. I especially worried about my feet. Eighty-nine percent of my body was exposed, but I was particularly bothered by my water shoes. Certainly big black ankle-top water shoes were not a good look with my azure bikini.
The water was cold. But the further I got in, the less of me was on display. So little by little I pushed myself in.
It felt pretty good. I have decent shoulders. I would go in up to my shoulders.
An old man approached me. He seemed to indicate that he had something to show me. I hoped it was not his dick.
It was a thermometer. “Can you read this?” he asked. “The numbers are too small for me without my reading glasses.” The water was seventy-eight degrees. Not bad for Rhode Island.
I began to enjoy myself in the waves.
Back on the shore, I saw a young woman approach the water. She was not fat. She was obese. She suffered from the kind of obesity where people stare. Where people wonder how the bones in her feet don’t break. How she gets into a car. How she dresses herself.
She was wearing a bathing suit. I wondered where you buy that big a bathing suit.
She walked into the water and plowed through the shoreline undertow. And a few minutes later, she was joined by some acquaintances. And they laughed and splashed and played in the surf.
I suddenly felt very light-hearted. And not because I had found someone who looked so much worse than me.
But because I was sure she was painfully self-conscious of her body.
And she was having fun ANYWAY.
“Good for you!” I thought,
I strode out of the water, and strutted back to the blanket in my blue bikini and big clumsy shoes.
“You look great!” said my husband.
“I feel great!” I said.
- Posted in: Aging ♦ Beauty ♦ Fashion ♦ Humor
- Tagged: Aging, Bathing Suits, beauty, Bikini, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, middle-aged, Rhode Island, self-consciousness, Swimsuit
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you go out of your comfort zone! Good on you, and thanks for the funny read!
I figure I have the rest of my life to look old. I have only a very few years left to look young.
You look great!
Thanks. I think I look better at 62 than I did at 42. But I also think that it’s mostly my state of mind.
You l-o-o-k Fabulous? Good you’re no going to let anything stand in the way of enjoying yourself. Yay.
Might as well have as much fun as possible. When we were shopping in Newport, I played the bongos in one store. My husband said i was a child. And then he bought a kite.
The pot calling the kettle childish? He-he.
This was funny. I’ll never worry about my love handles again. You’ve got a neat hubby.
I would recommend you pretend that no one cares. Because … no one cares.
I agree with Al above, Your husband is a gem. Probably azure, like your bikini!
In the rough, maybe.
Well, yeah. He’s a guy.
“I got up and walked to the water. A thousand eyes followed me.” Bravo! And Kudos for your daring dash to the shore and for flaunting your youthful bod and for this funny funny post.
In retrospect, I think only my husband was looking at me. Looking at me (and surreptitiously at the 17-year-old in the string bikini.)
I’ve found that usually are busy worrying about themselves or having too much fun with their own group to care about me. Way to rise above your fears.
Absolutely. And even if they momentarily take notice – they will not remember. So why worry?
You look absolutely stunning! The guy who wanted you to read his themometer likely just wanted a better look at you. Good for your husband for pushing you past your comfort zone and good for you for going with it.
I’m preparing myself for the nude beach!
When I was 17 everybody (esp. male) looked at me no matter what I would wear- so now with 50 behind me I enjoy being able to become more “invisible” at times. And do wear a bikini anyway, because I find it so much more comfortable than a whole bathing suit. Sometimes I wonder – will there come a time when I really look to old to wear one? So to see you in your bikini is pure pleasure for me- and reassurance also. Which I want to give back, totally, from the bottom of my soul.
When I was 17, no one looked at me – no matter what I wore. I’m making up for it now – 45 years later!
And good for you!
I haven’t gotten up the nerve to wear the two-piece (not QUITE a bikini) I bought 2 years ago but I did buy myself a leopard-print one-piece this summer that makes me feel young(er) AND sexy. I’ve seen a lot of ‘heavy set’ women at the beach this summer (I try to go at least once a week) and very few of them seem overly self-conscious about what they’re wearing (and some of them are in bikinis) – I’ve decided to do the same. Good for you for going to the ‘next step’ (maybe next year …)
Laughed out loud at the commentary about the old guy with something to show you – ha ha ha!
Good for you for braving the beach .. in a bikini! you Rock, Sister!
first let me say – you look refreshing, happy, and so confident – which to me wraps up to say – sexy! second let me say – *I hoped it was not his dick* made me laugh out loud. so, thank you.
Nancy, This post is riddled with genius.
Oh, and now I have an ‘itsy bitsy’ ear worm 🙂
Billy Collins has a poem about that -“More Than A Woman”…
Another post that cements you as my mind-and-beauty idol.
How sad you must be to ” I have always found it to be a comfort to find women who look worse than me.” …How fulfilling your life must be. And for the lovely woman you describe as “…not fat. She was obese. She suffered from the kind of obesity where people stare. Where people wonder how the bones in her feet don’t break. How she gets into a car. How she dresses herself.” I am sure she is more beautiful than you ever will be. Thin does not mean someone is beautiful. Beautiful people shine from the inside. From your post you are quite ugly. Also who are you to judge some poor stranger you do not know her circumstances. You were light-hearted because you were sure she was painfully self-conscious of her body? Again why would someones pain bring you joy? And how do you know this? I am a curvy girl and I KNOW I am quite beautiful Inside and Out. And I can tell you right now I have never been “painfully self-conscious” and have no reason to be. You must be an empty unsatisfied human being. I feel you are quite pathetic.
I am so sorry that you feel this way. If you read my post again, you will see that I was NOT light-hearted because she was self-conscious, I was light-hearted because she was having fun ANYWAY – and she reminded me of how foolish it is to let self-consciousness spoil your joy.
I am sure I am little pathetic in my foolish attempt to stay young. But since all the other readers who commented understood my point, I know I am not pathetic in my emphathy and not ugly in my soul. I am a beautiful person inside and out, as I am sure you are.
Yeah!!! Good for you. Nothing should stop you from having when you are at the beach. The picture is beautiful.
Thanks. I was self-conscious but went for it anyway, and I’m glad I did.