The Existential Crossroads of Bathing Suit Shopping

It’s finally, truly, hotly swim season.

Summer has the potential for relaxation and freedom, and swimming is one of the purest distillations of those things. But if your bathing suit isn’t what you want it to be, you’ll be focusing instead on your body, and what’s showing — and to whom. Rather than lizarding out on lakeside rocks or splashing in the surf, you’re more likely to be preoccupied with your appearance.

If you’re like many people I know, stupefied by the bounty of bathing suit options and paralyzed by complex emotions and low-key dread, you may not yet have managed to find a solution. I wish I could say this was unusual, but I find myself in this position every summer around the Fourth of July: still in need of a thing to wear in various waters, irrationally unhappy with all available options. Plus, they’ve become so expensive!

Several of my colleagues at The Times share this lament.

“The perfect bathing suit is much like the perfect relationship: Trust is essential,” said Dodai Stewart, Metro writer at large. You need to know it will work. “There are deal-breakers and non-negotiables: It must have a flattering cut, provide enough tension to uphold the bust and not result in weird tan lines.”

But how can we establish trust when there are more bathing suit brands than at any time in history, each targeting us several times a week on social media with every conceivable design — from the tiniest triangles to full-coverage rash guards and UV-blocking turtlenecks from Australia? Committing to one is knowing that no matter how great a suit looks on the model, it may not live up to the fantasy when filled with your specific corporeality.

Swimwear Under $150

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