Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Ignominy of Bikini Shopping with Your 8-Year-Old Daughter

I have a friend whose name is "Nasty." Not really, of course, but that's what everyone calls her. Everyone. Her real name is Helen, but years ago a young nephew laughingly decided to call his Aunt Helen - who was gardening and elbow-deep in dirt and mud at the time - "Aunt Dirty." That stuck, but just with family... until one unfortunate day at a party when some other friend asked, "What is it your nephew calls you? Aunt Nasty?" And that was that. She's been Nasty ever since. To everyone.

At least that's the way it was told to me when I met her some three decades ago at the age of twelve. She was an older lady (who isn't, when you're twelve?!) who lived near the bayfront condominium that my father's company kept for hosting visiting executives. When it wasn't in use, it was available for us to sit, oceanside, on the outside deck. We used it often. We met the neighbors, who became our friends. Aunt Nasty and her husband Chuck were among them.

Aunt Nasty lived at the beach. I mean that literally and figuratively, as she was actually out in the sun and surf just about daily. She was tanned to a deep golden brown year-round, and she always wore a bikini.

She has to be into her seventies by now. And though she and her husband have moved from that bayside condominium to a nearby oceanfront retirement community, Nasty still lives at the beach. Literally and figuratively. And she still wears a bikini.

What does all this have to do with The Ignominy of Bikini Shopping with Your 8-Year-Old Daughter? Everything. Because yesterday I went bikini shopping with my sweet EL.

This was not bikini shopping for her, mind you, but for me. I have a secret stash of inexpensive bikinis that I wear only in the privacy of my own family... at Grampa's backyard pool when no guests are present, or at the beach when we are clustered as a family unit of private little beach chairs. Why? I've posted about this issue before (modesty and bikinis and why I wear one anyway), but I'll say it again here in the words of Nasty's husband, Chuck: "Since Helen wears a bikini, all the good parts glow in the dark."

So yesterday, I was picking up a couple of things at WalMart with my daughter EL, and we found a clearance rack of bikini separates. The price was right, so we decided to see if we could find any in my size. (You never know what is your size until you try them on, by the way, but I started at "extra large," at least with the bottoms! They were bikinis, after all... usually only skinny people wear them.)

Trying on bathing suits is never a fun thing, but trying on bikinis at 42, after giving birth four times, is downright depressing. The only way to lighten things up and turn them fun? Cram yourself into a fitting room with your 8-year old daughter while you do it...

EL, casually: "I don't want to be extra large when I grow up."
me: "Well, nobody wants to be extra large. You don't really choose to become extra large."
EL: "Well, they eat less. And they exercise. That seems like 'choice things' to me."

Then, a bit later, rather timidly: "Not to be rude, Mom, but let's leave that one for someone else..." Apparently, there's bad, and then there's really bad...

Oh, the price you pay for glow-in-the-dark good spots!

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