This winter I went to Israel with my best girlfriend. I left my black one-piece bathing suit there, in her grandfather’s apartment, where he once lived with a wife and eight kids but now lives alone. Its fabric was nearly dissolved, after a day at the salty Dead Sea and five years of summer before that. I had found it, alone on a clearance rack, in the matronly women’s section of a small town Macy’s before an August trip to Maine.
Believe it or not, after retiring it, I couldn’t find an exact replica of my full coverage, no nonsense number. In a Puerto Rican mall, at big box discount retailers and online boutiques I sized up control panel, rouched and patterned suits and came home with none. I wanted something that would sit well and stay on, not push up or squeeze in.
At the end of my first year at college, I started to stop eating. Water, coffee, joints and cold vegetables were cool in whatever amount though. Everything else just wasn’t. This way of dealing with food seemed smart and simple and I felt purposeful and unbending. It got frustrating to eat with company. When the summer ended I drove across the country to start a new semester and on the way, my car windows got bashed in San Francisco. A good clump of my ratty clothes were stolen so I bought new ones in tiny sizes I’d never worn. People said I looked great.
My friends were hardworking, sometimes-perfectionists, each with their own mishegas. Among them, careful and intentionally restricted behavior wasn’t abnormal. So when, about two years later, I couldn’t handle being hungry anymore, the feeling of failure was intense. I bought bigger pants and was embarrassed that having to do so made me so bummed. I’m still mad that so many girls (boys too) that I’ve known have similar, more or less extreme, stories.
Eating weird is maybe like alcoholism. Even when you’re doing okay you still have to think pretty actively about how you want to live and how you don’t. So it’s my goal every day to look good by stressing less, trusting myself to make decent choices and leave it at that.
This Minnow Bathers two-piece, a simple suit cut something like clothes you’d wear off the beach, was an excellent choice. It’s got a generous bottom, nice lining, wide tank straps, but no padding or support wire. It doesn’t try to make any excuses. I’m not trying to either.