Can I be chubby and still have a good time at the beach?
May 4, 2009 1:22 PM   Subscribe

What should a less-than-skinny woman know about vacationing in a beach area? How can I deal with my self-consciousness?

Anon because I talk about my weight and related issues.

I'm in my 40s, and like a lot of women, I've gained some weight since I was younger. It's not a huge deal; I don't typically feel "fat" - I just know that ideally I need to lose a few (15 or so) pounds. But now I'm going to be visiting a location in Mexico where hanging around on beaches is one of the main activities (and one I believe I will enjoy). My husband and I normally don't have beach vacations; we usually go to places with a more moderate climate. So now, I'm starting to get concerned about whether I will be self-conscious and miserable exposing that much of myself to the public.

The details: I'm about 5'6" and weigh around 160-165 (depending on the accuracy of my scale). I don't want to wear a normal bathing suit and certainly not a bikini, so I plan to get a couple of pairs of women's board shorts. This will help me get around the dreaded "bikini area" defoliation issues too (very sensitive skin).

Am I worrying too much about how I look? Are there things I can do to look better out there? If you're a woman at my weight or thereabouts, is this a concern to you? How do you deal with feeling pudgy on the beach?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (60 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Everyone's more concerned with how THEY look than with how you look.
posted by ferociouskitty at 1:25 PM on May 4, 2009 [12 favorites]

Seconding fericiouskitty: nobody cares.
posted by halogen at 1:26 PM on May 4, 2009

On the flip side: there are plenty of people who notice less-than-skinny women-- because they find them appealing. Go and have fun, and forget about who's watching whom.
posted by Rykey at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm dealing with that this year in my post-partum state by getting a bathing suit that I really like AND that really fits me. This meant that I had to buy a size that I'm not happy admitting to myself that I wear but the reality is that it looks so much better on me than the smaller size that I was deluding myself into believing I could wear. Lands End has some well-made, easy to wear, not too matronly options. The swim shorts and swim minis are actually pretty cute. And yeah, no one will be paying attention to you.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:30 PM on May 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

At your weight, it's unlikely that 15 pounds will make a whole lot of difference to anyone but yourself. There are people on that beach--in bikinis and manthongs--who need to lose 50 and 100 lbs.
posted by theraflu at 1:33 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I swim at a pool with a huge range of people of all different shapes sizes and abilities. I also used to be about your weight and considerably shorter, just fyi. I think what you want is to be confident and comfortable. I'd suggest a sort of two-pronged approach

- getting in the water clothes
- lounging on the beach clothes

I'd really suggest that you consider a swimsuit for the water thing. Board shorts are great for hanging around and sitting in, but they're draggy in the water and make you look like someone who feels weird in a bathing suit. Not that this may not be perfectly descriptive, but it's not a great look for an adult woman. Most of the people I see wearing shorts in the pool are teenaged girls. If you're a tomboy type this may be perfect for you, if you're not it may be less than perfect.

That said, there are ways to wear a swimsuit where you don't have to shave/defoliate. There are many nice two-piece suits that are not belly exposing where the bottom part are small shorts. These are decent, pretty flattering and you can get a top that is a little looser so you don't feel all sausagey in your suit. Darker colors are slimming. Here are a few suggestions

- top & bottom
- a few beach skirt options 1, 2
- here are some "plus sized" suits not all amazing but flattering i think. I specifically think something like this is nice. Most of those models are larger than you, I suspect.

Then once you're out of the water, you can cover up in something that is airy but makes you feel less self-conscious. There are good gauzey beach skirts or capri pull-over pants that will be fine and some sort of tank top or t-shirt. The swimsuits for all site has a few options only a few of which I like but this one is pretty and I think attractive and doesn't say "cover up" just says "fun beach day" Wear sunscreen, have a good hat, have a nice fun pair of beach shoes and some nice sunglasses and you shoudl be fine. If you hate shopping for swimsuits (and this is very common) feel free to pick a few from a catalog that you can try on at home and return later.

So I totally don't mean to run roughshod over your ideas but since one of them was "am I worrying too much" I'd say you may be. While the best way to look better is to just feel better about yourself, I'd suggest comfy swimwear, in dark or muted colors (or patterns) that don't bind you or make you feel lumpy. Maybe something with a scoop neck if you've got attractive shoulders/chest/neck area. Have a coverup that makes you feel comfy without looking like you're in a mumu and add some jewlery if you're going to be going from outside to inside and you feel a little underdressed in just a beach robe. The beach will likely have a wide range of different looking people most of whom just want to hang out outside and relax. Have fun with your husband and enjoy your vacation.
posted by jessamyn at 1:38 PM on May 4, 2009 [6 favorites]

nth-ing nobody cares
posted by Mach5 at 1:38 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm not a woman. I'm only fat. My mantra in these kinds of situations: "I ain't charging admission."
posted by Joe Beese at 1:40 PM on May 4, 2009 [9 favorites]

Your 15 or so real pounds probably feel like 25 or 30 pounds in your mind, but are more like 5 or 7 to others. Don't worry about it.

Go and have fun!!!
posted by Taurid at 1:41 PM on May 4, 2009

The answer to your question is: Yes, you can be chubby and still have a great time at the beach. Don't let how you look and more importantly how you perceive how you look prevent you from having the best time of your life! As others have said, I doubt anyone will care, but if they do, so what? Why should you worry about how people you don't even know think about what you look like? Do they deserve to have more fun than you because they're skinnier? Easier said than done though, I know.

Now my practical answer: There are a lot of really cute swim wraps if that makes you feel better so I would look into those. Having a cocktail or two also helps if you drink. (Here's hoping you find a swim up bar even!)

I am much bigger than you are and I used to let my self-consciousness dominate any given activity that I was engaged in. Once I decided that I am who I am and my body is the way it is and I still need to live my life and find joy where I can the quality of my experience went up tremendously. I've never regretted it for a second.

I hope you have a fantastic trip!
posted by Kimberly at 1:41 PM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm your age, 40 lbs heavier than you, and I hung out on the beach in Mexico in a bathing suit (Eddie Bauer has some nice ones). It was no big deal - nobody cares.
posted by matildaben at 1:42 PM on May 4, 2009

No one cares unless you are like, completely tragic - think of the hairy German dude with a belly so big it can only be explained by pregnancy or cirrhosis nevertheless wearing a tiny orange Speedo. 160 at 5' 6" is not even close. You're there to relax. So start already.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:43 PM on May 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

I believe you are worrying too much, although I can certainly understand the feeling. A few things I find comforting: the anonymity of being in another country where it is highly unlikely you'll run into anyone you know. The realization that even if you do meet someone you know, they would be so surprised to see you out of context that even the most itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie yellow pokka dot bikinis would be overlooked by the surprise/delight of running into you.

Regarding garb: board shorts are kind of uncomfortable in the water (too much fabric flapping around) and you'll end up with a strange tan line. Consider a pair of boy leg bottoms or swim mini with a rash guard top: you'll look better if you show off some curves than if you bury yourself in miles of loose fabric (which will just cling to you when wet and bunch up in places you'll find both unattractive and uncomfortable).
posted by jamaro at 1:45 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Exfoliate, lotion, and self-tanner (subtle shade, not orange) go a long way for me when I want to feel better in a bathing suit.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:45 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Plenty of women at your weight, and more, go to the beach and elsewhere, and strut their stuff. Not just wear a bathing suit, but wear a sexy, revealing, bathing suit. I'm 25 lbs over my ideal weight, and don't even consider wearing a 2 piece suit, but I do wear a suit that reveals the fact that gaining weight gives me full breasts. When I wear it self-consciously, I look okay. When I wear it confidently, I look great. So wear the shorts over a suit, so that as your comfort level increases, you have options.
posted by theora55 at 1:46 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

The thing I always ask myself when I'm feeling self-conscious in a public place is "will I ever see any of these people again?" and when the answer is invariably "no", like it will be at a public beach, I stop caring and just do what I'm going to do. Seriously, people at a beach aren't judging you - they're hanging out with their friends, they're barbecuing, whatever.

Go, have fun!
posted by pdb at 1:47 PM on May 4, 2009

Also, check out the suits at Athleta.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:47 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing again, nobody cares. It may be hard to get round to that way of thinking right now, but when you're out there take a look around. Everyone will be enjoying themselves rather than sniggering at you or pointing. Beaches have catered for every shape and size since the dawn of tourism and while you may feel dreadfully exposed at first nobody will have even noticed you. Enjoy yourself!
posted by fire&wings at 1:49 PM on May 4, 2009

I don't know who will be hanging out on the beach you're going to, but it makes a difference. For instance, while San Diego beaches made me feel like a fat, white grub, Hawaiian beaches made me feel positively svelt. Bathing suits are just what are worn there, no matter what your body type. God bless Hawaii.

My point is, you may be worrying for nothing, really.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:51 PM on May 4, 2009

I swam competitively at that height and weight and after the first ten minutes in a suit in front of all these gorgeous athletic girls, I was over it and having fun.

That being said, board shorts for lounging sound like a good idea. I don't wear bikini bottoms any more because the grooming necessary annoys and irritates me.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:53 PM on May 4, 2009

Nobody cares, but if you wear what you wear in the best possible color for you, well, so much the better!
posted by jgirl at 1:54 PM on May 4, 2009

Seconding otherworldlyglows suggestion to wear a bathing suit that you love. If you feel more comfortable covered up, the 1950s style siren suits with a little bit of a skirt at the bottom are pretty sexy, and widely available. Lands End has one that I think is pretty cute, and VS has something a little less modest. And they don't require much pruning. I'm a fan of the retro styles from the days when movie stars still had curves.

But really, as others have mentioned, nobody will care what you wear, so you can wear whatever you like, and why not be a hot mama and rock what you've got? There's no law against strutting your stuff in a bikini.
posted by ladypants at 1:57 PM on May 4, 2009

First of all, this is your vacation. You're not there to apologize or explain. You're there to soak up some sun and enjoy yourself. If anyone gives you a snooty look (and I really doubt they will), laugh openly at them for being so damned catty. Then have another margarita. :)

Wear something that's comfortable and that makes you feel fabulous. This month's issue of Glamour has a fashion spread on retro-style, plus-size swimwear. Maybe something with a bit of coverage and retro awesomeness like this?
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 1:59 PM on May 4, 2009

Every Saturday I walk the entire length of St. Pete Beach and back. You'll be fine. Really. Also, I like jessamyn's suggestions if you're too self conscious to enjoy yourself in a more revealing suit, but I don't personally think you're big enough to worry about it. You could wear a bikini for swimming and sunning and take along some kind of wrap or sarong for hanging around before and after.

Being a man, I generally wear board shorts and a t-shirt myself. Wear sunscreen.
posted by lordrunningclam at 2:03 PM on May 4, 2009

For me, wearing a cute beach cover-up or dress over my bathing suit makes me feel beach appropriate and still covered up.

I guess the thing that makes me feel less self conscious is that there are going to be people smaller and bigger than you, so there's nothing wrong with falling somewhere in between.

Also, I'm not sure what you plan on doing once you're there, but being active or doing something besides lying on a towel might might distract you.
posted by patientpatient at 2:05 PM on May 4, 2009

28 Days to a Bikini Mind is targeted at the fat-positive community and is supposed to be humorous, but the advice is pretty sound.

I'm fatter than you by about 30 pounds and I wore a revealing bathing suit on my recent honeymoon (the first time in a few years I haven't worn board shorts). It took a little courage the first day I went out, but after that it was the most natural thing in the world. No one booed me off the beach. No one pointed and laughed at the cellulose on my thighs. No one even really noticed me at all (except my husband, who seemed very appreciative of my new-found confidence.

I'll also say that a bikini wax is completely unnecessary to wear a bathing suit, no matter what the industry tries to sell us.
posted by muddgirl at 2:10 PM on May 4, 2009 [7 favorites]

I am your size on a good day, and my favorite swimsuit is a size 14 holographic Speedo one-piece that is shiny and reflective and shows all my curves (including my round belly, which I've never liked). My boyfriend thinks it's incredibly hot. I've had it for twelve years and wear it only rarely, because I want to preserve it for as long as I can.

You don't have to get a shiny shiny swimsuit, of course, but I guarantee you that you will not look as bad as you fear. You simply won't register as "fat" to people. When I step out on the beach or at the pool, no one is rushing at me with a giant beach towel and making "thar she blows!" comments. Or, if they do, they're doing it well behind my back and I'm none the wiser, so that's ok too.

It's not like I have a great body at my weight - in fact, I've never really had a great body. And it's not like I'm totally comfortable in my skin - I have some pretty thorny issues with my body image, and feeling "fat" is enough to put me out of commission sometimes.

But. Underneath all that crippling self-consciousness is the realization, however fleeting, that I don't actually look bad, and therefore I don't have to feel bad about how I look. Neither do you. We look pretty good, and even if we didn't, we are under no obligation to look good for anyone. We're just here to have fun and play in the water and wear whatever we find comfortable and think we look good in. And if someone doesn't like the way you or I look, well, guess what? They don't have to look.

Go try on some suits (nthing Lands' End, I have one of their tankinis and it's great), get whatever feels right, and go have fun.

(One more thing: I would vote yes on board shorts - they're incredibly comfortable, can be flattering if cut right, and double as regular casual shorts - and no on boy-leg bottoms. Boy-leg bottoms tend to cut off at the widest part of the hip, which you might not like if you don't like your hips, and if your thighs rub together like mine do, the inner part of the legs will ride up and you will forever be pulling at your crotch.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:24 PM on May 4, 2009

First off, you're not even overweight enough for anyone to look at you and even think "omg, she's chubby" so NO one will care, I can assure you of that.

Second, go to the beach in Brooklyn or something and look around. A LOT of women are there in tiny bikinis and they are easily 200+ pounds. And guess what, NO one cares!! You are more worried about how you look, and you are too busy enjoying the beach to care if anyone has extra weight on them.

Third, work out! Sure you might not lose any weight by your vacation time, but working out makes you feel better, makes you feel more confident, and sends happy "I'm awesome!" vibes out.

But really, just go, don't worry about it, and just think about how good the beach and salt water and sand and vacations are for you. I'd be more worried about swine flu if I were you. jk =p
posted by KateHasQuestions at 2:27 PM on May 4, 2009

Two more suits that I thought were pretty cute: 1, 2.
posted by ladypants at 2:28 PM on May 4, 2009

Only Miss America is expected to be Miss America. Enjoy your vacation as you are. I have my own set of physical issues, but I consistently revert to, "What do I want to remember five years from now? That I got drunk with friends and had a great time on the beach? Or that I was too self conscious to get out there?" It all falls into place after that.
posted by December at 2:28 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Can I just say that this thread is getting little ol' plus size me excited for beach season? (And giving me great ideas for a new swimsuit?)

You will look smashing, dahling, in board shorts or an itty bitty teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:37 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

This article about a 43 year-old mother who decided she wanted to wear a bikini on the beach might strike a chord with you.
posted by Rora at 2:49 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you think it'll make you comfortable, get your board shorts, wear it over a one-piece. Own that shit, honey.

(Also... Rykey up above points out that there are those of us who are going to be leering at you suggestively.)
posted by Netzapper at 2:50 PM on May 4, 2009

What I like to do when I'm feeling bad about my body is look at other people who are my size or larger, or even not, and notice something attractive about them. I think, "they're a little overweight, but do I think they're ugly or unattractive?" The answer is always no. Someone might be big with a nice shape, or have pretty skin or hair, or a nice smile. Or whatever. It helps me not fixate on my cellulite or whatever body part is bugging me that day, and helps me realize that I'm much more than just my parts. I am slightly overweight, like you, and that really helps with my body confidence.

I agree that that the first step is to get a swimsuit that makes you feel great. It may sound goofy, but one of these Esther Williams suits is what I'm going to get next.
posted by apricot at 3:08 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm the same size as you, more or less (an extra inch and er, maybe an extra five pounds) and I went swimming last weekend in my underwear. For real. I felt terribly uncomfortable for the first few minutes, and then I got over it. I'm 19, but I don't think that changes too much. The fact is, about 20 of my (almost uniformly athletic and thin) peers saw me in my underwear, and it was incredibly freeing. I've only slowly accepted that at my (our) size, most people don't register me as particularly fat. I maybe not be in great shape, but neither do I have a ton of excess fat, all things considered. I say go for it and wear whatever bathing suit you find cutest, one or two piece. Maybe use some self-tanning moisturizer. Looking hot is mostly confidence and taste, and those things are not too hard to acquire.
posted by MadamM at 3:12 PM on May 4, 2009

Yeah, I recently went to Florida around spring break time (even though i'm now about 10 years older than the spring-breakers, i needed a vacation, dammit!) I wore shorts over a tankini, and was comfortable. I thought I was going to end up crying after going to the beach, but I actually felt better about myself. Because 1. I'm not going to have skin cancer like a lot of the people there who had complexions like a catcher's mitt. 2. I didn't have to pay for my boobs. 3. the sun and sand felt so good that i wasn't really thinking about 1. or 2. for more than five minutes.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:28 PM on May 4, 2009

I am about the same weight as you (although a different height) and I wear a suit a lot like this one. I think it is a flattering style for a body that's not super-skinny and the low-cut leg holes mean I don't have to worry about bikini zone hair. Although it still shows off my hairy armpits.
posted by mai at 3:46 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have this suit from Lands End. I am well past my bikini years. It's actually very flattering, very comfortable in and out of the water and makes me feel covered up yet still in the swim of things. Definitely check out all of the Lands End swimwear. Order a bunch of them, try them on and keep a couple that you like. If you live near a Sears store you can return the rejects there, free of charge and no hassles. And if you ask nicely via "live chat" on the website for a free shipping code they'll give you one.

Yes, I feel a little self-conscious that I'm not a skinny 19 year old any more. But I'm not going to miss out on a good time because of it. There's way more to this girl than the shape of her hips. Yeah .. I wish I still had the cute smooth bod, but hey, I've put miles on this frame and it's taken me to some awesome places. Yours is taking you on vacation with your husband! Yay! Have a great time.
posted by Kangaroo at 3:50 PM on May 4, 2009

As someone far far more overweight than you who also loves the pool and the beach, no one cares. I've learned over my many years of being fat (not implying that you are, but it is a term that I've come to embrace as a non-value laden description of me) that acting like you're nervous about your body and trying to cover it up only serves to draw attention to the things you don't want people to pay attention to. I definitely pay more attention to people who wear shirts/board shorts swimming, mostly because I think its sad that they aren't comfortable with themselves, but other people probably notice it more just because its not what everyone else is wearing. For a solution that covers both the bikini area issues and the fitting in with normal beachwear issues, I recommend Lands End swim separates. If you're still worried, you could go with these: Option 1 which could look like a '40s style swimsuit when paired with a matching top, or these: Option 2 which you can adjust to make more modest, if you wish.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 4:03 PM on May 4, 2009're only 15 lbs "overweight"? Darling, you'll look like an absolute MILF (or gordibuena in local parlance) compared to all the other obese, pasty gringos that swarm Mexican beaches. Tell me where you'll be so that I can ogle you :-) more polite'll look just fine compared to everyone else.
posted by randomstriker at 4:06 PM on May 4, 2009

Yeah, add me to the chorus of folks saying you will probably be one of the nicer looking bodies on the beach. And regardless of where you fit on the spectrum, nobody cares.
posted by jayder at 4:17 PM on May 4, 2009

I second the fake tan. Nothing makes me feel lumpier at any weight than pasty everything.
Also second the filmy coverup idea: gauzy big shirt or a pareo you can sling around your hips will help the transition from wearing clothes to a bathing suit. And, I love the 50s suits! They look so much better on filled out women. Add a big hat, a chunky bangle, and you're almost dressed or at least not feeling so exposed. I hope you have a great time!
posted by x46 at 4:43 PM on May 4, 2009

my favourite beach outfit is a well fitting black bathing suit - look for one that is tailored to a curvy body - and a nice wrap - get one of those lace shawls with fringes, and tie it around your hips - it will sexily sway with each step and you'll feel like a million bucks
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:48 PM on May 4, 2009

You inspired me! This is the suit I just ordered after reading this post. It received outstanding reviews on the LLBean web site. I also bought this coverup to go along with it. I'm trying out a swim dress (one of my nieces looks lovely in them). Beans takes everything back so I try on, and if it doesn't work -- back it goes.

I've actually found the more I try to cover up, the more self-conscious I become. I feel as though everyone is looking at me knowing that I'm dying inside. So -- I just try to get a well-made suit in a great cut. I'm wierdly uncomfortable for the first few minutes on the beach, then I'm fine. The worse thing any of us can do is to stop living because of the thoughts in our heads.

Please enjoy your vacation!
posted by inkyr2 at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2009

I'd like to chime in and say that I've been a swimmer since the dawn of time. I learned to swim before I learned to walk. I swam competitively for years. I'm neither skinny nor chubby, just average size, in pretty decent shape.

And even *I* spend the first five minutes at the beach thinking "Oh G-d, everyone can see my chubby belly." And then I realize that EVERYONE is walking around thinking about their imperfections and I stop worrying about it. If you've got self-confidence, you're going to be 50,000x sexier than the tiniest girl there who's spending the whole time thinking about her thights (and I assure you, this girl exists).
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:45 PM on May 4, 2009

I'm a similar size, and when I hang around beaches, I wear a light sundress when not in the water - partly because I feel more comfortable, and also because it keeps the sun off my pale, pale flesh. (I don't need the UV).
posted by jb at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2009

Or a light skirt - because mostly I'm uncomfortable showing my legs. I'm happy with my hairy armpits.
posted by jb at 6:03 PM on May 4, 2009

-concentrate on how you feel, not how you look. The beach feels absolutely amazing. Sun, rest, relaxation, that nice full-body stretch from swimming, maybe a mild buzz from a tiki bar drink. Revel in the sensuality of the experience. Enjoy the sensations. It feels good. Everyone else is feeling good. Feel good with them.

-emphasize good features. I'm a bit heavier than you right now, shorter too, and I wear a one-piece dark Speedo which fits really nicely. What it does have is a nice neckline that cuts across the bust. When you have a little extra weight it often comes with cleavage - this can be a nice feature to play up if you're so inclined. If your extra weight tends to be on your butt, there are plenty of people who will think that looks good, too. I don't think you're worried about pleasing anyone specific, but you can be thinking about your assets, not your deficits.

-When not in the water or busy tanning, I have a sarong that lives in my beach bag. I just tie it around my waist. It's not really a skirt, and it's very free and casual-feeling while still being a bit of a coverup if I feel like being more modest. Because it's not something I'd wear in day to day life it's fun to have on. Very feminine and fringey and laid back.

-Life's too short. Enjoy the beach. Buy some new things just because they're fun to wear. Being alive, and at the beach, is beautiful. Do you judge other people when you see them in swimsuits? Do you point and laugh, or secretly condemn them? I doubt it. And the corollary is that nobody has time or will to do that to you, either. And if by chance a few do, what does that say about the pathetic nature of their own psyche? Don't worry. The best thing about the beach is the way it feels, and the way everyone belongs. I grew up watching little, old Eastern European and Italian ladies of between 200 and 300 pounds spread out in tiny ill-fitting bikinis and oil themselves like Thanksgiving turkeys and meander around the beach and bob in the waves. I admired them then and still do. Life's too short to worry about what other people think.
posted by Miko at 6:50 PM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

Nthing the "you are worrying way too much." I just got back from a beach vacation with bodies of all shapes and sizes, and let me tell you, 5'6 and 165 is totally not going to attract negative attention. In fact, I would say that the people I noticed the most were almost exclusively men in ridiculous swimsuits that were far too small for their bodies, or the scarily overtan. As long as you aren't out there in a thong bikini no one will pay you any mind.
Go, have fun, and don't feel like you HAVE to wear board shorts or whatever.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:14 PM on May 4, 2009

You are worrying too much and self-conscious, and it's perfectly natural. We all have this image of how we want to look in a bathing suit and very rarely do we measure up to that ideal vision. Getting a flattering suit might make you feel more confident, and that's a good thing.

But here's another suggestion.

We've been known to spend our vacation changing our names, putting on fake accents, and generally just acting like two entirely different people. Why? Because it's fun, nobody else knows who we really are, and we will never see any of those people again.

I distinctly remember dancing on the table in Carlos and Charlie's on my last trip to Mexico, something I would never do at home.

That's the attitude you should take. Why worry about how you look in a bathing suit at all? You and your spouse could be on the internet researching nude beaches in Mexico right now.

You will Never. See. These. People. Again.

Enjoy yourself!
posted by misha at 7:43 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I was 20 or so I was on some beach in the Caribbean and this woman walked -- no, strutted -- by. She was 45ish, 170# or so, short hair, and nothing to look at except that I was totally captivated by her. She walked like she knew even Jesus was checking out her big bootie. I immediately thought, "Well if I turn out like that then things'll be just fine." I don't know if I'm on my way, but I can't think of ever having the same thought about some more traditionally proportioned chick.

Chin up, miss. A day on the nude beach and you'll be feeling hotter than ever. Sounds like this is just what you need.
posted by letahl at 8:44 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I feel like I can't blend in in a pitch black room, so I've long since learned to enjoy myself at any clothedness level. I have two tips.

Seriously peace out that bullshitty view of beaches as places to be seen. Who the fuck needs to go to a beach to ogle people, anyway? I'm thinking the real attraction might be... THE BEACH.

So, what do you want to do for fun on the beach? Boogie board, kite? book? Focus on those things. Buy a picnic basket!

And a clothes tip: I love my swooshy black cotton short skirt. Slipping that on over my strapless suit when I get out of the water, plus a big black sunhat and big sunglasses and cute sandals and I might be chubby but I'm fabulous, darling. Accessorize!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:13 PM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Hottest woman I ever knew happened to be 6-6 and 165. You know what, enjoy yourself and your wonderful body.
posted by jcworth at 9:57 PM on May 4, 2009

oops make that 5-6 and 165 hahahaah. She was no amazon.
posted by jcworth at 9:58 PM on May 4, 2009

I'm 5'7" and weigh 180, and the first thing I do when I get to the beach is find someone fatter or less attractive than me. Works every time.
posted by easy_being_green at 10:08 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Everyone is telling you that nobody cares, which is true and excellent advice, but I know that this doesn't help me feel better about the same situation. What you can do is make sure that the suit and cover up that you have make you feel good. Personally, I do not feel sexy in board shorts, so I would probably opt for something a little more feminine or sleek. If you do feel good/comfortable in board shorts, though, they might be the best option for you, but I've linked some alternatives below.

-You could do a cute little cover-up reminiscent of a sundress for beachwear. Victoria's Secret has a ton of cute cover-ups which are almost like breezy little sundresses; they might make you feel more attractive than board shorts. I don't know your style but this, this and this all look like they would be flattering on pretty much anyone.

-You could also get a little cover-up skirt designed to go with a one-piece that you wouldn't even need to take off in the water like this or this.

Regardless of what you look like, someone(s) will certainly be checking you out. Realize when this happens and you'll feel loads better.
posted by Polychrome at 1:21 AM on May 5, 2009

First of all, listen to the people upthread who said not to worry about it, you look fine at that height and weight, and no one will even notice. They're right.

I just wanted to chime in to recommend a swimsuit. I recently purchased this one, and it was miles better than anything I had tried on. Great coverage of the bikini area/rear end, and the built-in "shapewear" is fantastic. It's very smoothing and slimming. Anything you like by ShapeFX should have that same feature. That particular suit also has a nice retro feel (especially in black), so just pair it with some nice movie-star sunglasses and a fancy hat, and you'll feel fabulous.
posted by thejanna at 6:13 AM on May 5, 2009

I think you should cover up ... to prevent getting burnt! I am obsessed with covering up at the beach because of the sun. You say you don't normally do beach vacations, you probably are prepared for the sun. It's so easy to get burnt when you are having fun in the water - where no one can see what you look like below the shoulders anyway. I wear short skirts and tunics when I'm not in the water to prevent but and upper thigh burn. You can find lots of cover ups, saris etc. See above for great suggestions.

No one cares, be comfortable and have fun.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:03 AM on May 5, 2009

Go read The Fantasy of Being Thin and anything else over at Shapely Prose.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:26 AM on May 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

I too am probably about your size on a skinny day. After years of feeling ashamed of my normal body (starting from age 8 - now in my early 30's), I started wearing a bikini about 5 years ago and almost immediately felt upset that I had wasted so many years hiding my body under shorts, t shirts, towels, whatever. Almost no one has a perfect body - people have wrinkles, scars, moles, birthmarks, tattoos, sags, bags, rolls, bumps, whatever! You'll see that right away and you'll also see that none of those people seem to care. It's your body, it's strong and it's gotten you this far in life, be proud of it! If people don't like it, they certainly don't have to look!

The feeling of sun on your skin is one of the best feelings I know of. Please don't miss out on it.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:56 AM on May 5, 2009

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