The Rockwood Files: The Swimsuit Commandments

rockwoodfiles2-205x300By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

“Lo, the time had come and we hastened to the mall to seek out the most worthy swimsuit, for summer was upon us. We sought refuge in the dressing rooms where we squirmed into stretchy fabrics and tied spaghetti straps around our necks. We tugged and hooked and tied and then turned slowly toward the great reflecting glass. And lo, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

And so it was then, and so it is now. The annual hunt for a flattering swimsuit has plagued women through the ages. On the top 10 list of loathsome things to do, shopping for a swimsuit ranks a strong second, right behind the annual gynecological exam.

But no woman should have to go through this alone. Swimsuit shopping is meant to be a team sport. You must seek out your very closest friend, the one to whom you can comfortably bare your cellulite. This friend is your gofer – she gets the bigger sizes while you agonize in the dressing room.

Trust me, you will need someone to agree that the “mirrors in here must be distorting everything.” You will need someone to confirm that the “lighting in here is terrible.” And, after leaving behind a knee-high pile of rejects in the dressing room, you will need someone to say, “The selection here isn’t that great anyway.”

Recently I had to face the inevitable hunt. With an honest-but-kind friend in tow, I waded through racks and racks of one-pieces, two-pieces and pieces of pieces that weren’t big enough to qualify as cocktail napkins much less swimsuits. I plucked all the “maybes” off the vine and hauled them to the dressing room with a fervent prayer that maybe, just maybe, one of them would look really good.

I tried the first suit on, and I thought it looked okay – not perfect, but it might work – until I saw the rear view. “Next swimsuit, please.” The process continued this way until all the “maybes” were piled in the corner of the dressing room floor in a heap of “Hell No!” I wandered back out onto the sales floor in despair, weaving in and out through racks of suits, longing to find just one more “maybe.”

I wanted to find the salesgirl, too, so I could grip her by the shoulders, shake her furiously and demand to know where she was keeping the good swimsuits. Had she bought them all for herself? Was she keeping the flattering suits under the counter for all her high school friends to buy? Was there a secret room of swimsuits behind a hidden door, where I could go and find the flattering suits, where the mirrors reflect back an image of Heidi Klum’s backside?

After a thorough search of three stores, I found it – the suit that confidently said “yes” when I put it on, instead of screaming “The horror! The horror!” The proverbial needle in the swimsuit haystack had been found.

Tired but grateful, I rushed it to the counter to pay before any other swimsuit warrior – eager to end her own misery – could snatch it from me.

And lo, upon returning home, I repented of the excess fat grams I sinfully indulged in through the long winter. I vowed to keep the swimsuit commandments henceforth, so I might be smiled upon by the lifeguards:

“Thou shalt not smear sour cream on thy burrito.”

“Thou shalt not neglect thy treadmill.”

“Thou shalt love thy aerobics instructor as thyself.”

“Thou shalt not bear false witness about thy swimsuit size.”

“Thou shalt sucketh in and hangeth ten.”


gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Author Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography