Extra-Large: A Women’s Journey to Find the Perfect Bikini

I’m 36. That’s not over the hill. I’m a Yummy Mummy dammit. Sure, I’ve had two kids. I did the Weigh-Less thing. It worked. I will never get back to that post-baby weight purely to avoid the caffeine-withdrawal headaches that the detox requires. So, WHY, oh WHY are bikinis made only for pre-pubescent girls with the diet of an Ethiopian during war-time rations?

My first attempt nearly brought me to tears. I had resigned myself to the that horrible word (shudder) which appeared in the label of my now-faded, now-unelasticated bikini bottoms : “LARGE”. So when I swooped into Shop 1, I gaily grabbed two (shudder) “Large” bikini bottoms which would match my (unfortunately SMALL and unstretched) array of bikini tops. Breastfeeding did not help me out there. I didn’t even try them on. Imagine my horror when I realised that Shop 1 had been mistaken. The patterns must have gotten mixed up. There must have been a misprint on the label. (er, on BOTH labels). It seemed… Large did not cut it anymore!

These bikini bottoms seemed to have been made for people with only one bum cheek. Shame! These poor ladies whom these pants would fit! Not only one cheek, but an oddly-shaped concave one at that. I returned those pants to Shop 1, sure that I had bought them from the wrong section. Undaunted, I headed back to the bikini sector and this time, tried other bottoms on in the shop. Well, these were perfect!!….   IF I wanted to have an examination of my Caesar scar and butt crack both at the same time WHILE wearing the pants. I mean, Caesar scars are not HIGH UP, people.

Now officially wounded, I returned home bikiniless. Poor husband bore the brunt. “Am I really THAT BIG?” fortunately after 12 years of marriage he knows the correct answer, which is not, as some would think, “NO, not at all”:    it’s “NO, not at all” said immediately and before the question is even completed. It’s the SPEED of the answer, men, which is the secret to diffusion. Yes, we know you know the words, but you have to say them in the correct manner, capiche?

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I know that my bottom has never been SMALL. I am proudly descended from the Hottentot lineage. I don’t know how, but it’s the only explanation. In fact, I once bought a box of Jockey broeks which I use for non-creepage when I run. I chose Large because running pants do not leave much to the imagination, and I usually have to wear a bum-jacket even in summer. You know, that’s when you tie a long top around your waist even though it is 30 degrees and you have no intention of putting it on.

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The lady at the counter took a look at my petite frame and convinced me to scale down to Medium instead. As Julia Roberts famously said, “Big. Mistake. Huge.” (which would also, apparently, be an accurate description of my posterior.) What a waste of a good (expensive) box of Mediums. It was like they were designed to enhance the muffin top effect. And when I bought the box of Large Jockeys, each one looked big enough to be the flag of a small country, yet devastatingly, they fit.

My daughters have kept me humble too, kindly never allowing me to be deluded about the size of my bottom. One winter morning I felt the familiar presence of my tactile-seeking 5-year-old pressed against me. She said, “I love keeping warm here under your big fat bum”. Truth.

So, ever the optimist, off to Shop 2. Walk past the LARGE bikini bottoms, do not pass Go, do not collect the R200. I was not willing to inflict that kind of mortification on myself again for fear of a massive outpouring of emotion and possible expletives in the changeroom. I pick up the (double shudder) EXTRA LARGE bottoms. Aaah. Sweet relief. No scarring was visible (mental scars firmly in place however) and my non-concave PAIR of butt cheeks was only partially free-falling out the sides. Victory! An XL victory!

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