MARY THOMAS: Searching for swimwear – and that lost metabolism

If you’re a male or a model for Ford Agency, no need to read any further. You simply won’t understand. However, if you represent the rest of the population – females with more derriere dimples than a Titleist golf ball and leg veins resembling a blueprint of the LA freeways, you are welcome to proceed.

We are a private club of sorts. Veiled in the secrecy of department store dressing rooms, we give time-honored eye rolls when Twiggy next door whines she may have to go up to a size 4. Oh, shudder. I do share a common link with Twiggy. I also have a number 4 on my clothing tag. That’s all I’m going to say.

As frigid temperatures climb and spring flowers awaken, racks of coats and sweaters that have hidden our imperfections give way to tops the size of my fourth grade training bra and loin cloths so small Eve would blush. The sun is not our friend, but neither is hibernation.

I deal with swimsuit shopping the way I do colonoscopies – every 10 years. So, with a decade and plenty of ranch dip under my belt, I recently made my way to that dreadful department to partake in this seasonal rite.

Magazines this time of year spell out all kinds of ways to remain confident when swimwear shopping. Shave your legs. Get a spray tan. Wear sandals. Blah. Blah. Blah. I simplify the tips:

Grab two sizes larger.

Keep your eyes closed.

Of course, it’s hard to keep your perspective when forced to share the space with teenage girls. They flit from rack to rack, squealing with delight over small patches of cloth. They speak like they tweet, “Cewt. Cewt. OMG. So ca-ewt!” I have a mind to slip into that same string bikini they gush over and knock on their dressing room door. Amid their screams of horror, I would gracefully pivot on one foot and inform them they are witnessing their future after babies, burgers and beverages. But let’s allow them their moment, shall we? Youth is brief, and one day they will awaken and ask the age-old questions, “Who stole my metabolism?” and “Why is my body moving South?”

Another phenomenon I witness from time to time is an increasing number of men standing amid the racks of skimpy attire. For some, I sense their discomfort. They stand there, holding their wive’s purses wishing, instead, they were perusing a hardware store for hex bolts. But they either love or fear their wives. Either way, they are willing to put up with whatever it takes to keep the peace.

There is something else that occurs in this world of lycra I can’t quite wrap my head around. Have you ever spotted a man in our domain because he actually wants to be there? The last time I shopped for swimwear, a man stood right outside the dressing room entrance, feet firmly planted. Time and time again, his wife emerged barefoot and clad in a swimsuit. Then, without speaking – and I’m not making this up – he motioned for her to turn. Turn again. And then again, until she faced him. He slowly shook his head with disapproval and she disappeared into the dressing room for another round.

I know all marriages are different. What works for one doesn’t work for another. But, let me be clear, had that been my husband and he asked me to rotate like a chicken on a rotisserie, I would have l grabbed a nearby thong and hog-tied him in record time, throwing up my arms in victory.

Ladies, it’s unfair to drag men swimsuit shopping. Walk in their shoes. Do you want to spend hours pacing the dusty aisles of a hardware store looking at window caulk, rust remover, faucet washers and junction boxes?

Give me lycra under bad lighting any day!

Mary Thomas of Tupelo is an independent journalist and Daily Journal community columnist. Contact her at

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