Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Quest for Modesty: The One Piece Unicorn

Let's face it, ladies. When we see those gorgeous models on Pinterest sporting the fashionable one piece, we think, "Now that is modesty done right." And for a second, we actually want to purchase the one piece over the skimpy, sexy two piece -- sparking a rush of empowerment because we're actually rejecting what society puts on us, right? We sit at our computers scrolling through picture after picture of tall, skinny beach babes, sticking up our metaphorical finger to a world that objectifies women. We're all like, 'take that, sketchy creeps at the pool! Take that society, I'm going to be a modest woman that demands respect!' And then you cackle at your computer screen because you think you are so, so awesome for withstanding the temptation of buying yourself the seductive high-waist bikini. 

Okay. I get it. One pieces aren't exactly the face of modesty either, especially the modern, hip ones with the cut out sides and the cut out holes on the chest and weird cut out stripes (seriously? I have to know what those tan lines look like). I also get that it's really easy to buy into the whole thing. That even as a married lady, it's easy to feel the pressure of looking a  certain way for the world to see. Overly-sexualized clothing, even "modest" one pieces, don't just grab the attention of lustful men. Women envy them. That's why we hate ourselves when we see these tall, skinny knock-out women in one pieces (which, let's be real - how many of these women, with zero body fat, are actually wearing one pieces rather than two pieces?) saying things like 'I'm going to have this itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini body **as we put down the tub of ice cream** It's just the way of the world, and quite frankly, this obsession with 'less is more' really bums me out. 

So I started my quest for modesty, particularly in a search for a bathing suit. Now let me pause right here to tell you something important: I don't think two pieces are wrong. I don't judge my friends who wear them (I own two myself) and I don't sit atop my fold-able "holier than thou" beach throne when I wear a one piece. Also, my husband is not making me wear a one piece. I truthfully decided to venture into the land of forever pale bellies on my own, honestly out of curiosity more than anything. Sure, as a christian woman, it strikes me as a topic I should fully consider on all sides - this modesty - and just why or how one should go about finding it. 

But before we get our sassy swimwear bottoms in a bunch, let's just get something straight: My interest was in finding a fashionable, affordable one piece because to tell you the whole truth, I was skeptical that they even existed. You know what I'm taking about. The simple, sophisticated yet stylish one piece that doesn't break the bank - the unicorn of all swimsuits that doesn't leave unwanted tan lines. Ah - the tan lines. My one beef with one pieces. I have a lot of weddings to attend this summer, and I'm not trying to have criss-cross, halter top tan lines. So where can I find this dream suit? A strapless, yet modest (as modest as it can be for a strapless one piece) fashionable gem?

Well. a few clicks online can show me where they live -- expensive stores like Anthropologie and J crew (expensive to me, anyway). And this made me laugh. $120, $150 for a (rather plain) one piece? Ha! Good one, you beautiful twist bandeau tank with the tasseled sayulita poncho. Luckily for me (or so I thought), I was heading to the beach, where gorgeous one piece unicorns frolic about endless surf shops, beach boutiques and nearby strip malls. 

Wrong. At least in my experience. 

Now, my parents live in a sleepy beach town, so I wasn't really expecting high fashion swimsuits, even in nearby surf stores. I still searched surrounding stores, including Walmart, Target and Peebles, thinking, "surely they will have something." But, alas, they did not have a single strapless one piece. Some beach stores I went into didn't have one piece swimsuits at all. Now, I wasn't really expecting Walmart or Peebles to wow me, but Target is my jam, so I was shocked to only find tankinis and plus size one pieces. 

It wasn't until my last surf shop stop that it hit me just how strange it really was. Skinny women in magazines - sexy, tall models bombarding the internet in stylish one pieces, and it was all  unattainable. Every store I went into only markets one pieces for overweight women who in someone's mind, didn't have a "bikini body." One pieces aren't regarded as fashionable swimwear alternatives unless they're on the cutting edge, and by that I literally mean the edges are cut all kinds of crazy. In my mind, the only places in which stylish one pieces exist - in my size - is in high end retail stores. So where is a skinny girl to go who wants to find a modest, semi-fashionable, affordable one piece? 

The employee in the last surf shop caught on to my frustration and asked me what I was looking for. When I described my unicorn to her, she stared at me for a second, and then she said, "but you're really skinny. You should just wear a two piece." At that, I surrendered my dream of ever finding an affordable diamond in the rough, and semi-joked (honestly, more in amazement) with my mom on the way home about how a thin girl can't choose to be modest in this day and age (at least without dropping some serious cash). Why is it that every store I went into didn't have my size? Or if they did have small one pieces, they looked like this:

Now I have to give Target props I really do, because they actually have one-pieces, even strapless ones, and some of them are really cute. But the only ones I could find were either swim dresses, tankinis or XXL. I know there are always going to be exceptions, and if you're a small gal who found an affordable, strapless one piece, I commend you. I'm sure they're out there somewhere. I haven't given up my plan to find one. However, I have admittedly adjusted my budget toward prices I never initially thought I would pay. But I think the awkward elephant in the room is that we actually have to search for them. Our culture dresses it all up, sometimes even calling it "modest," but unfortunately, striving for (fashionable) modesty in our world is often like searching for a unicorn. 

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