Finding a bathing suit that doesn’t make me want to blind myself

I was going to write a whole post about where to find organic bathing suits.  The idea about buying an organic bathing suit was something I’d never even thought about until a couple of days ago.  Sure, organic food.  Absolutely.  Organic clothes.  Makes sense.  But an organic bathing suit?  Do people even make organic bathing suits?  And if so, what are they made out of?  Hemp?  I bet that looks nice when it gets wet.

I found a comprehensive guide to ethical swimwear right here, in case you’re interested.


But that’s not really what I want to talk about.  My research got me thinking about bathing suits and how ever since I was a teenager I’ve never really enjoyed being in a bathing suit.  I’ve always been way too self-conscious and a bathing suit is just a conduit to publicly display the things I hate about my body.  Also, I’m a pale, freckly person — there is no such thing as a tan for me.  I have two versions of skin tone — ghostly white and horribly burned.  I could walk around in a barrel full of sunscreen and still get burned.

The problem is that in the summer I’m in a bathing suit a lot with my kids.  We go to the pool almost every day and then we go to Florida and I might as well wear my bathing suit on the plane.

So what’s a girl to do?  Here are my issues —

I can’t wear a one piece because my torso is too long, which means the bathing suit will get jammed up my crack within two seconds of putting it on.

I’m not at all boobalicious so I have to be very choosy when it comes to bikini tops or I’ll just look like a ten year old boy in drag.

My legs since my pregnancies have varicose veins all over them.  I could seriously be a leg model for a pamphlet about varicose veins.

I don’t want to get any sun at all on any part of my body.

I’m kind of fine with my arms.  I’m also okay with my stomach as long as I don’t have to bend over to get anything and then it crinkles up like crepe paper.

What did the Elephant Man wear when he went to the beach?  Could I just wear that?

I found this bathing suit at Prana and I thought it might be the answer to all my problems —


You can be active in it.  It’s cute.  I wouldn’t have to shave at all.  But I would probably wear it with a long-sleeved rash guard shirt so essentially I’d have on a scuba suit.  Plus a hat.  Would that be just too weird?  Would I look like this woman?


In 1907, Annette Kellerman fought for a woman’s right to wear a fitted one piece bathing suit. She was arrested for indecency.

I remember when my grandmother would get in the pool with us she’d always wear a bathing suit that had a skirt.  I used to think it was so odd.  Why does grandma wear clothes in the pool?

I know I should just get over the insecurities and let it all hang out.  I mean, really, life goes by in an instant and I’ll be dead and who cares what I look like in a suit and so what if I get a little sun burned and blah, blah, blah…

But until that moment where I reach complete enlightenment and body acceptance, I still need to get a suit.

Should I go for the Prana bathing suit/pants?  Prana is having a big Memorial Day Sale this weekend (you should DEFINITELY check it out) so now would be a good time to swoop down and buy it.

I look forward to your thoughts on bathing suits, body image and Elephant man vacation spots.


  • Diane says:

    Lands End also has long torso suits – I haven’t looked at them yet this year. I do recommend Coolibar for rash guards. They come in jacket style and are SPF 50. The problem I have with rash guards everywhere else is that they are super tight and I don’t like the look or feel of being vacuumed packed into a top. It only looks good on teenager surfers. The Coolibar jackets have zippers and fit like a jacket. You can have a bikini top on underneath and just zip up when needed. I’ve had one for three years and it still looks great.

    • Holly Hester says:

      I’ll check out Lands End. Thanks. I had a Coolibar jacket for years and then lost it on a trip. It was great. Very breezy and you didn’t feel like you were suffocating. The only issue I had with it was I wanted to wear it in the pool or ocean because I didn’t want to get sunburned while in the water. My kids thought it was so weird. Why are you wearing clothes in the pool? I continued despite their complaints. I miss that jacket.

  • I’m a huge fan of the retro one-piece suits at Modcloth because they hold everything in and cover your butt too. I just feel like wearing those pants would make me so HOT out at the beach. I like the board shorts look though! =)

    • Holly Hester says:

      I think that would be an issue — the heat. Out here in Northern California it’s cold at the beach so I think they would help me stay warm. But if I went to visit my dad in Miami and wore them I’m pretty sure I’d burst into flames.

  • Becky says:

    I think you should totally go with the Prana suit. It’s cute! And meets your needs! I am a godless heathen and I have been getting my bathing suits from the stuff mart the last couple of years. I’ve been in that transition phase when everything is shifting out of nursing/postpartum so I haven’t been willing to spend tons on a suit that won’t fit in 6 months. I’ve been getting the suddenly slim stuff by Catalina. I’m totally an apple shape so my boobs are big compared to my butt and my tummy is my problem area. So, retro, 2 piece suits work well for me. The high waist and tummy panel are musts at this point but I am doing pilates! I think next summer will be the one where I actually spend money on my suit and then I will be off to your lovely recs!

    • Becky says:

      Oh! And as my final word, never, ever get a tube top. They are never flattering on anyone, including the models in the VC catalogue who have been airbrushed and tweaked to within an inch of an alternate reality.

      • Holly Hester says:

        I don’t think I’ve ever tried on a tube top — every inch of my being knows it would look so horrible on me I’d want to gouge my eyes out. And you’re right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single person they look good on. What cruel person invented the tube top? Seriously.

    • Holly Hester says:

      I’ve never heard of the suddenly slim stuff by Catalina. I’ll look. It sounds like you’ve found a really cute suit to make you happy — I just went into this Mod store and they had the cutest bathing suits ever! I think I just might have to look for a retro suit one of these days.

      • Becky says:

        The thing I really appreciate about the retro style is that they are a bit more modest without screaming, “looking at my body is an invitation to sin!” Because, what says hot like a mother of 3 who really feels put together if she remembered to shave in the last week? I want something that I can chase after kids in without worrying about what is peeking out. Rash guards are good for the top but most of the time, I see them paired with a bikini bottom and I find that the bottoms are just as problematic and call for more delicate personal grooming. I don’t have it in me to worry about delicate personal grooming All Summer Long. Board shorts with a rash guard work well but I look frumpy instead of sporty and cute in such outfits. But, I’m not *quite* ready to embrace the granny skirt suit. And, I have a daughter who I want to model that you can look alluring while also not showing London, France, AND a hint of the lower Alps. So, rouched, slightly longer bottoms are the way to go and that’s retro.

        • Holly Hester says:

          I totally agree. I usually wear a long rash guard shirt and board shorts and I just look like a dude. I don’t want to wear a tiny bikini because they aren’t that easy to run around in without showing your dangly bits and I would like to model good swimsuit behavior for my daughter. Plus, my legs and butt are not quite ready for a bikini. I’ll check out the retro suit. Maybe it’s for me after all. Thanks!

          • Becky says:

            Actually, I really think you are on to something with your long, tight shorts thing. My legs are still in good shape, but my tummy is a mess. So, I like the tummy panel and gathers. If your concern is the legs, then the long, fitted shorts make a lot of sense. The thing I really appreciate about your blog is that you are modeling how to figure out a esthetic uniquely suited to *your* needs. :-) It helps me remember that I can embrace *my* unique figure needs without feeling I must be frumpy.

            • Holly Hester says:

              Thanks! I think it is really important to think of ourselves first when it comes to fashion. I know that sounds like it should be obvious but we all look at TV or movies or celebrities or magazines and think, I should dress like that. It looks so cool! It might look cool, but what’s the reality for it working in my life? Then when it doesn’t work your feel like you’ve failed somehow. Which, of course, isn’t true. I always think Gwyneth Paltrow looks so crisp and clean in all white, but I can’t wear white within 100 miles of my life.

  • Janet says:

    Have you tried the long torso suits? J Crew has them right now. I bought a log torso Ruched halter one piece. It looks like I have boobs and I barely have to suck in.

    • Holly Hester says:

      I have never heard of a long torso suit!!!! What is this new fangled thing you speak of? I will try it! Thanks!

  • Angela says:

    That is a super cute suit! I decided this summer to wear something similar. I’d rather be able to feel comfortable jumping in and out of the pool and not worry about getting burnt too. I chose some pieces from hydrochic. I got some capri pants and a 3/4 sleeve rash gaurd. Comes with a super comfortable bra. I haven’t worn them to the pool yet (I just got them) but I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel, and how people react. :)

    • Holly Hester says:

      I will totally look up hydrochic. I’ve never heard of it. I’m looking for something you can keep jumping in and out of the pool with. Thanks!

  • Rebeccah says:

    I love that suit! I looked at the site and they make some cute sleeveless rash guards too. I think it looks sporty and trendy. I also like the board shorts they have if you didn’t want the full capris.

    I wear a rashguard and huge floppy hat at the beach when I’ve had enough sun and no one ever looks at me funny. At least I don’t think they do. It’s kinda hard to see anything but my hat brim.

    • Holly Hester says:

      I like that suit too. I didn’t see the sleeveless rash guards — I’ll have to check them out. Thanks! I wear a super big hat too. It’s awesome.

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