SWIM LESSONS

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.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents -

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.

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