If stripping down to a swimsuit terrifies you (cue the Jaws theme song), you’re not alone. From buying a bathing suit to loving your bod, our swim-therapy guide will keep you afloat all summer long.
Dread swimwear shopping? You are not alone. We offer shopping tips, moral support and frank chats with swimwear models, including a plus-size star.
Shopping for a swimsuit can cause a swell of self-doubt that’s powerful enough to pull you far from shore. MARILISA RACCO throws us a life preserver.
THERE’S THE KIND OF THERAPY
that’s meted out by a registered professional and the kind that is self-administered with a corkscrew and a very large glass. When summer approaches, however, and words like “beach” and “pool” are bandied about, for many women, there is no therapy effective enough to take the dread out of swimsuit shopping. Personally, I paint myself into a proverbial corner when it’s time to buy a swimsuit. I wait until the last possible moment, mere hours before boarding a beach-bound flight, to blindly launch myself into a dressing room and try on swimsuits with the frenzied speed of the Tasmanian devil.
As it turns out, my dressing room flurry is an attempt to circumvent an inevitable shame spiral. A 2011 study conducted by researchers at Flinders University in Australia concluded that self-objectification—the act of evaluating ourselves based on what we believe to be others’ perception of us—can put women in a negative mood (even if it’s just the thought of trying on a swimsuit). It seems we’re fretting more about what we think people will see rather than what we actually see in the mirror. By asking participants to imagine themselves dressed in swimwear versus jeans and a sweater, their selfobjectification, body shame, body dissatisfaction and negative mood spiked, with the former intensifying when the swimsuit scenario took place in a dressing room. “When you’re looking closely at yourself in front of a mirror with bright lights, you have the opportunity to examine all your bits and realize that you don’t look like what you had hoped,” says Marika Tiggemann, a psychology professor at Flinders and co-author of the study.