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Jeanette Levellie

Trying on a swimsuit was not a biggie when I was a size 6 and regularly working out. Pick a color that compliments your skin tone, doesn’t show too much of what you only want your husband looking at, and is on sale.

Now that I’m not a size 6 any longer—and may not be until Jesus returns and gives me my new body—and my workout consists of pulling weeds and scooping out cat litter boxes, shopping for a swimsuit has reached the number 3 spot on my list of high-stress items. (Number 1 is running out of ice cream; number 2 being down to only vanilla ice cream.)

I’m not afraid of cellulite, fat, or age spots. I just don’t like to advertise them to the world at large. And prove that I am becoming one of the larger ones in that world.

So I torture myself in the dressing room with all manner of spandex-inspired creations that attempt to hide from the younger women what they have to look forward to when they hit the “Searching for My Lost Hormone Years” and want to eat everything with sugar or fat in the number 1 spot on the ingredient list.

When I finally decide on a little—I use this word loosely—number that is so busy with sunflowers and hummingbirds that I hope will distract eyes from the flesh bulging out of it, I rush to the checkout counter and pay cash, so the checker doesn’t have time to see what size it is.

In the car, I grab my wee scissors from the emergency sewing kit and snip out the label, and then swallow it with a large gulp of diet ice tea. No sense in having it flutter out of the trash bag and let the world in on my dark secret. I can handle the indigestion that results from label eating; I can’t face knowing there’s evidence of my swimsuit size somewhere on the planet.

Now I’m prepared for the next time a friend calls, inviting us over to swim. “Let’s go,” I holler to my honey. “We’ll be late for the party!” He comes down the hall wearing the same suit he’s had for twenty-five years, which took him thirty seconds to pick out, try on, and purchase. Makes me sicker than when I swallowed the label.

His eyebrows raise as he points to me. “Aren’t you going to wear your new bathing suit, honey? You spent all day and half a paycheck on it!”

I huff like I always do when he’s clueless about female logic. “I have it on, silly, under these old shorts and t-shirt, so it won’t be ruined by the chlorine. I can’t let people see me in a swimsuit!”

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