The thing I love most about my swimsuit is that I can wear it to weddings.
Technically, it's not a swimsuit; it's a swimdress.
I call it my little black (swim)dress -- and I call the woman who designed it a fashion revolutionary: Sandi Flaaskog, 60, of Hermann, Mo., is a mother and grandmother who works in the building industry and likes to go on cruises. She spent years searching for a fashionable alternative to the typically dowdy "modest swimsuit" lines aimed at women who cover up for religious reasons.
"I am not modest as much as I am vain," says Flaaskog of Becoming Apparel, a site I found while searching for a modest alternative of my own.
"I wore a bikini when I was young and I had a bikini body," Flaaskog told me, "but age is not kind. Now, I don't wear anything shorter than a capri. I spent more than eight years looking for a swimdress to wear on our cruises, something that would not be body hugging and that would cover my legs. Finally, I decided, 'I'm just going to design it myself.' "
In a twist to the controversial 101.3 KDWB contest on Facebook called "Should I Wear a Bikini or Not," I polled my own friends on Facebook with the question, "Should I Wear a SwimDress or Not." I was a little hurt that they didn't all love my $69 "Juliet" bodysuit with attached skirt as much as I did:
"Dude, you have a lovely figure, it's time to put on some shorts."
"I guess you're not planning to swim laps in that?"
"I think if you went in the water in that, you might drown."
My swimdress doesn't weigh me down; in fact, I feel lighter than ever when I wear it.
"It has already paid for itself," I explained to my friends, "because I can now appear at a pool without feeling like all my figure flaws are on exhibition for the general public. I feel so FREE now -- free to focus on the water and the fun -- that I don't even mind the strange looks from the other swimmers/hot-tub sitters, who must wonder why I'm wearing semi-formal wear to the pool."
Some of my friends "got" my excitement -- after all, it's hard to find the perfect swimsuit, no matter your personal style:
"A great swimsuit is one you can forget about. If you are comfortable, you focus on fun, not your appearance."
One friend, however, was concerned that I might need ... help. A swimsuit intervention.
"As a mother of daughters who has had personal experience with an eating disorder, which stemmed from years of being told (verbally and nonverbally) that body flaws are bad, one (me for sure!) has to be careful of the messages we are sending to our children," she wrote.
That got one woman fuming.
"Interesting how many assume that it's about weight," she wrote. "There are so many other reasons someone may not want to go out in public in, basically, glorified underpants."
By the way -- I am 5-foot-9 and I am NOT overweight but, hello, I've had three children; the youngest is only 3. I work full time and I am a single parent and I don't have time or money to spend at the gym. So, a desire to wear something that flatters my (almost) 43-year-old body means I'm going to give my daughters eating disorders?
I certainly hope not.
One of my friends told me not to worry.
"I think if you are happy and playing in the water then you are sending the right message! Wrong message would be sitting on the sidelines hiding under a cover-up and a suit you feel uncomfortable in."
Yes, exactly! What my daughters seem to notice is that I am now willing to stand in line with them for the water slide -- without covering up my lower body in a huge beach towel. Now, all I wear is my pretty, feminine dress and a big smile.
Read more about Sandi Flaaskog and her passion for modest fashion at MinnMoms.com. Molly Guthrey can be reached at 651-228-5505.