Transition has made me have to face a lot of things I used to be able to take for granted. A bathing suit used to be as simple as a pair of shorts with some netting inside. Like the pattern? Cool. Done. And it didn’t really matter how I looked. No one really cares what a guy looks like in a bathing suit unless you hit either one of the extremes (super ripped and jacked or morbidly obese).
Now, it’s a whole different story. I no longer live with the privilege of not having my appearance picked apart and used to determine my value as a human. Even worse, my appearance is even used to strip me of my identity as a woman. There’s sort of a lot at stake when putting on a bathing suit, but even more as a transgender woman. A few months ago, I very non-exaggeratingly stated that I’d rather jump off a bridge than go bathing suit shopping.
Obviously, the biggest issue for me is of the between-my-legs variety. What’s the best way to hide that thing? A while back I had watched this video and thought maybe it would work for me too. Unfortunately, when I practiced it at home, it was a complete failure. As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, I’m also self conscious about my fat stomach, my somewhat masculine shoulders, and my severely undersized boobs. When I’m fully clothed I have the luxury of dressing according to my body and working with what I’ve got. I’ve figured out what clothes work and what don’t. I know how to hide the things I don’t like and make myself at least reasonably feminine, but I don’t really have that ability with a bathing suit.
As much as I didn’t want to go bathing suit shopping, I knew it was something I’d have to get over and face head-on. Sure, I could have easily decided to just forego any summertime activities that typically require a bathing suit. I could not go to the beach (I haven’t in a couple years anyway). I could not go to our development’s pool. I could not go to a water park. I could not go river tubing/rafting. I could just skip all these things; heck, I might not end up doing them anyway. But I transitioned so I could stop hiding myself and start enjoying life. That means I can’t skip out on things I enjoy just because they’re a little scary.
Luckily, I was able to enlist my wife’s help so I wasn’t going at it alone. She suggested trying on a few of her bathing suits at home to see if I could get an idea of what might work and what wouldn’t. While this was actually really helpful, it was also extremely upsetting. I ended up dealing with a severe case of dysphoria and self-loathing, but I did have some ideas for what I could look for that might work. I decided to trudge on to the store and see what I could find, but I completely expected for my trip to end in tears and possibly even feeling a bit suicidal.
First up was Old Navy. I knew they still had some stuff in the store and they’re pretty darn cheap. I immediately found three cute tops I thought might work. I looked around for some of the swim shorts and swim skirts they had online, but there were none to be found. So I grabbed a pair of plain black bottoms with the hopes of finding a pair of board shorts to wear over them. No luck on the board shorts, but I didn’t let it get me down, I knew, worst case scenario, I could just wear a pair of running shorts over the bottoms and be good. After trying on the tops, I was really happy with how they looked and I thought I could be comfortable wearing them. We walked around and I grabbed a couple other non-bathing suit items before paying and walking out feeling extremely accomplished.
Since Old Navy is right across the street from Target, I figured we should take a look there too just to see if they had anything else in the bottom department for me. I had seen online that they had also had swim shorts and swim skirts. Almost immediately, I spotted a pair of each and snatched them up in black. I also ended up spotting a cute tankini and a skirted one piece. After trying everything on, I felt very comfortable in it all and decided that since each piece at Old Navy was only $10, I could spend the money to get the one piece and the tankini as well. I figured even though I was happy with how I looked in the dressing room, when it comes to actually wearing them, I’ll probably be happy to have some options.
So, in the end, bathing suit shopping was beyond successful. I really couldn’t believe it, but it was a wonderful surprise. Granted, I still have to actually put one of them on and go out somewhere in public, but I think I’m prepared for that. I’m actually getting kind of anxious tackle that hurdle soon. Anyone want to go to the beach or tubing down the Delaware?
PS: These photos all suck since I snapped them real quick last night with my phone in the mirror instead of actually taking the time to take better ones. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d actually post the photos of myself. Anyway, can you tell I like polka dots?