Lisa Hannam
Lisa Hannam
@lisahannam

Why I No Longer Hate Trying on Bikinis

I’m not a fan of bikini shopping. I can think of a ton of things I’d rather do than stand in front of a full-length mirror with overhead lighting trying on bathing suits that seem to point out every flaw I’ve ever noticed on myself. I swear I’m not negative or have body image issues, but when looking for a good suit, you’ve got to try on some bad ones too. And I’m not alone. In fact, one study found that even just thinking about trying on swimsuits puts women in a bad mood.

So, with summer here, cottage weekends abound, and pool parties and vacations loaded up on my July-August, I decided that a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. Plus, after visiting Anita’s offices and factories in Portugal and Germany, the lingerie and swim brand invited me to try out their suits here in Canada for a home-grown experience.

After chatting with a colleague about how terrible the experience can be – or rather, how whiny I can be about the whole situation – she made me realize I do have some control.  She mentioned things like, not trying on colours that don’t match my skin tone (yellow is a no-go), avoiding certain silhouettes (I finally admitted that cut-outs aren’t for me), and “pull yourself together” (her exact words to me). That last one was about grooming myself so that I feel good before I even enter the change room. Here’s what I did.

1. I bee-lined it to the store first thing in the morning.
It was 8:30 a.m., and I was already inside the store, talking about bikinis (FML) with the lovely Christine Lackan Ory, founder of Brava Boutique. She put out a few Anita suits she thought were flattering and slimming. I was a skeptic, but she showed me how the halter tops pull everything in, bandeaus create a pretty neckline, patterns hide bits, high-waisted bottoms tuck in the tummy and side drawstrings can make legs look longer. I made the appointment so early (some stores do this, just ask) because that’s when I was told it was a slow time. Not only was it quiet, but I got all the one-on-one attention I needed from sales staff, and tons of privacy. Plus, with no belly bloat or end-of-day gravity pull, I found my posture was pageant queen-worthy.

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2. I got waxed.
Rather, I waxed myself. I discovered a long time ago, after too many nicks on my legs, that I’m no good with blades. When I got used to the feeling of getting hairs pulled by an aesthetician, I started doing it myself with the strips. (Way cheaper, and I don’t have to wait a few days to book an appointment with myself.) I waxed two days before with Nair Remover Wax Ready Strips (or Veet Wax Strips Sensitive Formula, if I’m near the end of my cycle) to avoid any red bumps along the bikini line or on my legs. This is a must. You don’t want to be Miranda from SATC on holiday.

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3. I self-tanned.
Overhead lighting, even in the most luxe swim shop, is always terrible. It leaves shadows under the eyes, the boobs, on the tops of the legs, along the hips – I could go on. Since I’m fair, I didn’t want an all-out Snooki glow, so I used a gradual tanner (Jergens Natural Glow) a week before. Then I made a Hail-Mary call to do a one-night-stand tan with St. Tropez One Night Only. Sure, there’s the fact there’s no sun damage in using these guys, but I really liked how evenly the tan looked. Up yours, change room lighting.

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4. I moisturized.
Since I was treating this day as an event, making sure I was groomed and feeling good about myself, I had a shower and did my hair. That means my skin was dry. So before I got dressed, I used a heavy-duty cream that wouldn’t let me down. CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion calmed my skin after my hot shower (the only showers I enjoy or take). It left my skin smooth, healthy-looking and glowy (take that post-waxing drama). It was like a booster for my faux tan.

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