Why I Love My Swimdress

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

I love my swimdress.

I know I’m supposed to hate it. The Internet tells me so! Social media relentlessly tells me that I should be wearing a bikini on the beach, no matter what my body type, because it doesn’t matter what I weigh or how old I am, women are beautiful and shouldn’t be ashamed.

But I’m not ashamed. I mean…yes, I wish I were skinny. I wish my belly wasn’t the size it is, but at this point in my life, I’m enjoying my food and my life and this is sort of where I’ve netted out, for the moment. But even when I was younger, trimmer and smoother, I didn’t wear bikinis. I just wasn’t comfortable in them. Never have been.

We’re on vacation in Spain right now, and on Spanish beaches, almost all the women are in bikinis. Many are topless, wearing only bottoms. So that’s half a bikini! And I think they’re all great. The topless women, the bikini women, they come in all shapes and sizes and I salute them. No judgment, no critical eye, just the amazing variety of women who aren’t obsessing about every little curve and wrinkle. A+ to all of them, I say. Hear, hear.

© Courtesy Laurie Ulster

But every day when I scroll through my Facebook feed, there are a half dozen articles telling me to stop being ashamed of my body. They say not to succumb to the swimdress; instead I should strut the beaches and pools in a bikini and stop worrying about how I look.

But I want to do more than stop worrying; I want to feel good. I want to be out on the beach not thinking about my body or my belly fat or how I look compared to other women, and that’s why I bought a swimdress just before this vacation. It’s black, and it’s skirted, and it has a bit of a plunging neckline, and when I wear it, I almost feel like I have on a super short cocktail dress. I feel womanly in it. I feel sexy in it. I feel cute! And that can sometimes be an elusive quality for me.

© Courtesy Laurie Ulster

I looked around the beach today, and for the first time in three days, I saw one other woman in a swimdress. She was jumping around in the waves with her husband (or boyfriend), looking happy. I was in the waves too, jumping around with my husband and children, and I was happy too. I didn’t feel out of place, like I was wearing something nobody else was wearing, or like people would judge me for being neurotic or shy. Nobody’s looking at anybody else here anyway, and if they are, it’s the naked boobies getting their attention, not bathing suit styles or modesty. (People are people, after all.)

I love my swimdress, and I feel terrific in it. It flatters my figure, which is still something of an hourglass, and it’s the most comfortable thing I can imagine wearing in the water. I’m never tugging on it or adjusting it. I’m never wondering how I look. I’m a modest person, physically, and I’ve been that way for many years. I like to show some cleavage, but that’s the extent of it. My confidence doesn’t come from showing off my body with abandon; it comes from choosing clothing that makes me feel good about how I look. I know my body well. And I know that I look cute and classy in my swimdress. I’m not old-fashioned. I’m stylishly retro.

I see the look in my husband’s eyes when I put it on, and I feel even better. He puts his hand on my back, he leans in for a kiss. Another kiss. I tell him I got burned a little bit on my boobs. “I know,” he says, grinning.

So you know what? I don’t care what the Internet says. My swimdress is the only bathing suit that takes away my self-consciousness, instead of being a result of it. I love the way I feel in it. I love that I’m running down to the ocean, splashing away, then running back across the searing hot sand to lounge under the canopy and sip my drink and read my book like all the other women here.

Internet? I know you think what’s best for me is the bikini, but you’re wrong. What’s best for me is my pretty, flirty, fabulous swimdress, and when I wear it, I feel like a million bucks. I’m not hiding. I’m proud, and I love it.

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