What Type of Bathing Suit is Right for My Body, Bikini or No-kini Atoll?

25 Jun

A great prophet named Oprah once said, “Sometimes the best way to dream big is to think small.”  Her philosophy helps explain the physical shrinkage of cell phones, computers and especially, bikinis. If you’ve seen one lately you’ll notice it’s been reduced to the size of a clam shell.

The bikini was invented in 1946 by French engineer Louis Reard who named it after Bikini Atoll, a former atomic bomb testing site in the South Pacific. Apparently the atom has inspired more than just war.

Since that time, man has made bikinis not only smaller, but also more inventive.  Take the string bikini. The creative process behind its design probably went something like this:

Male: “Okay, team, let’s think of some alternative uses for thread.”

Female: “Beading jewelry?”

Other female: “Tying up recycling?”

Other male: “Covering a woman’s loins?”

Call me a prude, but haven’t we come far enough in evolution to stop using animal hide, hemp or anything in the twine family to cover a woman’s naked body?

For those of us who still believe in modesty there’s the cover up, a one-piece long shirt worn over the bikini. It’s generally made of sheer or crocheted fabric and is about as effective as draping yourself in saran wrap.

Bikini advocates say bikinis are empowering. That may be true if you’re sixteen, have a body like Megan Fox, or practice liposuction. But when like me, you reach forty and the only thing on you that’s taut are the strings on your tennis racket, you start to resent the bikini and the fact that wearing one is like using a steel wire to cut through soft cheese.

What type of bathing suit is right for my body?” you wonder.

The one-piece bathing suit seems a reasonable option until you visit the restroom where you’re faced with two equally undignified options: remove the entire suit, which requires you to thrash about awkwardly in a cramped stall or, pull the bathing suit crotch to one side and pray you don’t dribble.

Then there’s the tankini, its popular two-piece cousin, for women who don’t have washboard abs and like to use the restroom without falling over.

Around the time I discovered the tankini, a tan went from signifying manual labor, to a life of leisure, to basal cell carcinoma. I decided to ban bathing suits all together.

Still, I needed something to wear when I brought my kids to the pool. I decided to invent a unique amphibious outfit that would shield me from splashing children, protect me from the sun’s wrinkling rays, and store my People magazine. I’d name it the No-kini Atoll.

I took my ideas to a well-known designer named Martha who owns a dress shop in town. If anybody could do it, Martha could.  She’d been a seamstress since the Revolutionary War, and has more metal pins on her floor than bullets in the Jockey Hollow battleground to prove it.

She heard me out and said, “Lisa, you don’t need a clothing designer, you need a herpetologist—they study amphibians. I’d suggest you visit the Turtle Back Zoo.”

So I did.  And Jack, the mammal trainer, loved the idea.

“It would be the perfect uniform to train our otters!” Jack said, clapping his hands together and making loud barking noises.

The end result of our experiment was a bizarre, semi-aquatic outfit that made me look like a cross between a surfer and a duck billed platypus.

“I don’t know Jack…” I said.

“It looks great!” he exclaimed.

“I think the bottom’s too roomy, like I should lay eggs or something.”

“I can make some adjustments,” he offered.

“Do we really need the flippers on the feet?” I asked.

In the end, I decided it looked ridiculous and abandoned the invention. Jack, however, now feels at one with the otters in his no-kini and has taken his shown on the road.

As for me, I found a solution to lounging poolside with confidence. I added a private swimming pool to our backyard. Now I just need to find a fabric that breathes better when I work up a sweat. It’s not easy to blow up an inflatable pool.

What’s your swimwear of choice? One-piece, bikini, tankini, or no-kini?

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28 Responses to “What Type of Bathing Suit is Right for My Body, Bikini or No-kini Atoll?”

  1. Paprika Furstenburg June 25, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I really feel that I was born in the wrong time period. I have a body better suited to the bathing suits of the early 1900s – the ones that went to your knees. That said, I think the tankini has solved a lot of problems not the least of which is the bathroom issue. Peeling off a wet one piece suit to try to go to the bathroom is an exercise in contortion and bladder control.

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      I think you’d look adorable in one of those long suits, holding a ruffled parasol! And yes, the one-piece bathing suits requires superhuman bladder control. It should come with kegel exercises!

  2. cindyricksgers June 25, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I received a phone call a few years ago from a very old, newly single acquaintance. He recalled a double date that he and I had been on – each with someone else – when I was seventeen. He remembered how I looked in that bikini, he said. Would I be interested in getting together, he asked. Well, mister, what has happened since that memorable bikini day? Forty years, forty pounds, two pregnancies, three surgeries and at least fifteen bathing suits…not another single bikini…and a bit more maturity than you are exhibiting with this call, thank you very much. And that’s my only bikini story…I enjoyed yours, though, thank you!

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      Sounds like you and your bikini really made an impression on him! And, that he might have been fishin’ for no-kini atoll!

  3. alenaslife June 25, 2012 at 11:57 am #


  4. Perfecting Motherhood June 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    I used to have a tankini (still do) but I put it too many times in the dryer and it shrank little by little. That’s how I learned you’re not supposed to put bathing suits in the dryer… And no, it’s not my body that got bigger, if you’re thinking that at the back of your head! I’ve switched to a plain all black one-piece, which is great if I want to do some real swimming.

    I live in San Diego and the sun is dreadful. I spend so much time covering myself with half a bottle of sunscreen, it takes all the fun out of going to the pool. So I often use a t-shirt to at least cover my torso and only have to use sunscreen for my legs, which is still a lot since I’m tall. I wish San Diego had more indoor pools, especially since outdoor pools are quite chilly most of the year.

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      I hear you. My sun tanning days are over! (I’m the one at the pool wearing the dorky hat). Good for you for swimming–that’s great exercise!

  5. Huffygirl June 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I buy a modest one piece suit, and then put on an old stretched out sweater and nylon shorts over it. Sometimes I’m so cold at our beaches here, that it never sees the light of day. This is a great money saver, as I only buy a new suit every 5-10 years. Why put myselft though trying on humiliating outfits, especially when my doctor’s office says I’m fat, as does the lady at the gym who just tested my body fat content. But hey, maybe I should get an inflatable pool instead.

  6. Carol R Craley June 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I vote for the inflatable pool AND the old stretched out sweater!!

  7. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer June 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Thoughts of summertime activities like swimming leave me with the desire to hole up inside an air conditioned house and read a juicy novel, sip some sangria and take the phone off the hook. Now THAT’S relaxation without the pain.

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 26, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      And if that novel is Fifty Shades of Gray, it will definitely leave you with desire . . . 😉

  8. earthriderjudyberman June 25, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    The no-kini Atoll sounds like a winner. Wish you would have provided a photo. 🙂
    I have a one-piece bathing suit that’s about 12-years old. Usually the only one who sees me in it is my hubby because I swim in our pool. I even hate to go to the beach and I live about 15 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

  9. Stacey June 25, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    I have never owned any piece of clothing that had too much room in the rear! Sounds quite flattering. Very funny and frightening at the same time. Maybe a bit too visual! 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 26, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      Stacey my guess is you wear anything well, whether it’s a semi-aquatic outfit or no-kini atoll . . .

  10. Susan H. Greenberg June 26, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Swim shorts, baby! It’s like going to the beach in quick-drying exercise clothes.

  11. The Laughing Mom June 26, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    I’ve resorted to a cotton muumuu-like cover-up over my spandex culottes swimming suit. Add the super-sized wide-brimmed hat to cover my pumpkin head and it’s quite a site. Thanks for the tip on pulling the crotch over to one side! Ha!

    • Main Street Musings Blog June 26, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      At least you won’t get sunburned! As for the pullover maneuver, keep in mind it is best achieved with both feet firmly planted on the ground.

  12. Shakti Ghosal June 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Was passing by and fell in love with your story telling writing style, Lisa! Hope ro be back.


  13. cestlavie22 June 27, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    For the the problem has always been something I feel comfortable enough to prance around in. I think this year I am going to go with the vintage style one piece bathing suits. I like that the bottoms are not form fit to your private parts and that the top is still sexy enough to make me still feel 24 ( which I am).

  14. simonandfinn July 4, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Loved this line: “I think the bottom’s too roomy, like I should lay eggs or something.” 🙂

  15. jotsfromasmallapt July 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Judging from the posted date: June…I’m a bit late in replying but then…who really cares?
    You’d really want to know this: received a gift pair (just one front and back w/two leg holes…which I guess makes it a pair?) of throng knickers….to throw at Mick Jagger when next in Portland. The story goes: I tried them on. So far so good. Then….looked at myself in a full length mirror…the bum side looking back at me in all it’s flag-sagging glory. The Hallelujah Chorus could never be loud enough to cover the scream…..

    I knew you’d want to know……
    PS Thanks for stopping by.


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