Trying to Jump in a Lake

A message to the swimsuit industry

Lisa Renee
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readJul 18, 2021


Photo by Luka Reedy on Unsplash

This summer, I’ve decided to jump in the lake. There’s a big, beautiful lake minutes from my house and I haven’t been in it since my kids were little. A decade, at least, of thoughtlessly avoiding the pristine waters of my home place, ignoring what may be the perfect therapy. It’s time to change all that, so this year I have resolved to get in the lake and take the water cure.

I bought a state park pass and some water shoes, to protect the feet from slime and zebra mussels. And now, the last piece: A swimsuit. I have two old suits, both a size too small, so it’s time for an upgrade. My requirements are minimal, or so I thought — the suit must fit and be relatively comfortable. Good luck.

After hours of online shopping, researching, filtering, and snacking, here’s my conclusion: Women’s swimsuits are made for the gaze of others. They are not made for comfort or movement. They aren’t made for the unselfconscious dip in the lake. They are not made for me.

Here’s what I want: Coverage, because I’m fairly modest and still chewing on the toxic message that my body is not good enough; a light fabric that folds when and where I do; no attempt to shape or enhance anything. I imagine that swimming in my body is the thing that will feel incredible, the suit is an incidental necessity.

As a kid in the 60s, the swimsuit was nothing, just a slip of fabric that was not noticeable in the water (unless it was too big, which it usually was because my mother bought things “to grow into”). As a teen, in the 70s, my suits were lean and simple, the barest of lining lest someone find out I had nipples (the horror). One of my old, too-small suits was purchased about a decade ago and boasts a nice light fabric, its only offense being the thankfully removeable pads. I removed them immediately. I would buy another one right now, a size or two up, but the retailer no longer offers suits with removeable pads. I ordered a suit recently that was described as “fully lined”, hoping that meant “not padded.” It arrived with fixed pads, the kind that make the suit look haunted, stacked without a body in it. The best one I’ve found, so far, is not good: A suit with a “shelf bra” that makes me feel as if I’m being swallowed by a constrictor, due to its…