The Undertaking–to design and sew my own swimsuit
The next “Stitch and Bitch” is a little over a month away. That gives me just enough time to do some serious research on what suit would fit my body best and to learn the tricks to working with spandex. There is no doubt that I am nervous to cut into the new fabric I got at Mill End, but will this stop me?!? Of course not! Especially at $4 a yard.
If I am going to sew my ideal swim suit, the first question I have to answer for myself is “What style would flatter my body shape?” This was going to be the hardest part, I could already see as my stomach started to turn. This is not a pretty subject for me. What you don’t know about me is that I am 30 (yes, it happened a few weeks ago…and no I don’t feel any different), and I have never given much thought to bathing suits. A bathing suit was a necessity, not an accessory. Growing up I was always a bit jealous of my friends who had long legs and straight hips. I idealized their bodies. If you were to analyze my internal teenage dialogue you would have noticed that I had a cluster of adjectives that I used to describe their bodies–feminine, sexy, skinny, tan, long-legged. I gave my own body the left over “kinda-sorta-compliments-but-not-really-a-compliment-at-all-adjectives”–athletic, stalky, strong, hourglass, and gymnast-esque. I was proud of my tiny waist and toned stomach muscles, but I explained away their good as I focused on the bad–how my thighs rubbed together or how short my legs were.
I also had dark hair and fair skin and far too many more interesting pursuits than to spend the whole summer laying out, just so that I could land a guy. And to be completely transparent, I had seen too many women in my family with eating disorders who flaunted their bodies as a way of getting attention from the male members of the family. The idea of catching a man that way, was absolutely despicable to me.
And to give you a picture–when I did wear a suit, I ended up looking far whiter than my SoCal counterparts and had a mean farmer’s tan from playing soccer outdoors year round. That’s my childhood baggage. And in my friend Danielle’s words, I am trying to unlearn all of it.
As I approach 30, I often find myself thinking, “If only I had that same body I despised in high school.” Is that really what I want? No, not really. What I truly long for is much deeper than that. I want to feel grounded and in touch with reality and with my body. I want to play in the water with my kids of think of nothing but the feeling of water on my skin and the gratitude in my heart that I get to spend time with my family. I want to be grateful for the life I have lived and for the things that this beautiful body has allowed me to do. This body got me into an Ivy League school (psssh… and you thought I actually had the SAT scores to get in on my own). This body has survived emotional and physical trauma. This body has suffered and persevered through debilitating anxiety and depression. This body has been loved deeply by a good man and made love to him in response. This body has nurtured children that I did not give birth to. It has brought deep joy as I settle down in my house after hours of grueling yard work. It has put up with my lack of care and feeding as I have spent the first 4 years of my marriage getting fat and happy. The thing is, I am convinced now more than ever that it is possible to see myself and my body through a new lens. My dear friend Denise Shenahan’s words remind me, “That’s an old tape. That program isn’t needed any longer”.
I see women all of the time who are many sizes larger than I am, who look fabulous. They look confident and happy and proud of their bodies. My goal with this project is to make a bathing suit that I think is cute, sexy, and makes me feel good. One that makes me want to go the river, not hide in the house all summer. Now that I’m ready to be okay in my body, while wearing a bathing suit (that is little more than a 1/2 yard of fabric), I need to know my body shape. So what shape is my body?
Pro tip: Don’t Ever Tell A Girl She is Pear Shaped
It wasn’t until Eric was working at MyShape that I actually took serious measurements of my body. I’m talking 15 different measurements. What I found was somewhat disturbing to me initially. I always thought that my body was “curvy.” What I found out when I put my measurements into the MyShape algorithm was that I was an “A” shape. That basically means that I am “pear-shaped.” Telling a woman she is pear-shaped is like telling her she is “high-maintenance.” When was there ever a time in a woman’s life where she was told she was “high maintenance” and her disposition got a litter brighter? Never. Ever. The. So don’t say it. The end.
So, fine, I am pear-shaped. What next? I need to find out what type of suit looks best on a sexy pear-shaped woman?
I did my research and these are the keys to a good fit.
As you have probably noticed, I have a certain style. If you are still reading my blog, then it must not bother you. And for those of you who put up with all of my round-ups that include florals, navy, red, polka dots, and plaids, you are a saint. I will keep telling myself you’re here for the writing (kind of like how guys read Maxim for the articles, right?!?!) So, I am a huge fan of sweets vintage florals and polka dots and anything red, black and white. Last week when I was at Mill End fabrics I came across a black and white polka dot material that will be perfect for a swimsuit. Hale-friggin-lujah! The truth of the matter is that as much as a I appreciate the vintage suits and I think they look awesome on pin-up girls, a suit really has to have one foot in the modern world to be comfortable. So as much as I like all the different the pics, I think that the pic below is going to be the style I try to mimic. I might make the leg a little higher cut to give my legs more length. I might also make the straps much thinner too!
What About You?
Are you ready to own your own body? To feel comfortable in your own skin, even if this means in a bathing suit? To stop comparing yourself to other women and to appreciate your own beauty? Maybe you’re willing to join me in trying? If so, then I say, “Welcome.”