It is 10° F in New York. I am surfing the internet for swimsuits. Gracie is curled up on the floor in a patch of late afternoon sunlight. I’d like to know what she is dreaming about.
I have the perfect wardrobe for January; for 12 inches of snow, slush moats, and arctic windchill. I’ve got high-tech long underwear, three different types of fleece jackets, a down sweater and a down jacket, lightweight and heavy weight Gore-Tex shells, boot socks, windproof gloves and moisture wicking glove liners, neck gaiters, wool beanies, and insulated waterproof work boots. I can mix and match for any winter weather condition. If you wanted to throw an outdoor party in January I’d have the ideal outfit. I’m an urban slumberjack.
Last year I waited until June to think about swimming. I swore it would be the last season that I’d wear a black racerback Speedo in the water, topped by a pair of quick-dry shorts and a damp T-shirt on the sand. A black racerback is the butch equivalent of a little black dress. It is elegant and understated, but I don’t wear dresses. I promised myself to start looking for genderqueer appropriate beach wear in January. This is my 2014 swimsuit challenge.
Layers work great in January but are less appealing in June. It is my conundrum. My winter wardrobe hides my femaleness; a swimsuit exposes every last bit of it.
I’ve lost about 30 pounds since I bought my Speedo. Speedos are stretchy but they only contract so much. I need to replace my size 16 with something smaller. I went to swimoutlet.com and looked at racing suits, triathlon suits, and swim unitards. I am concerned that the unitard will accentuate my curves. I am afraid I will look like a sumo wrestler in it.
If I try hard enough, I can morph my Speedo into a men’s swimsuit from the 1920’s. Until the early 1930’s it was considered obscene for men to bare their chests in public, even at the beach. Public ordinances prohibited it. Men were arrested and fined for exposing their nipples and their belly buttons.
Psychologically, I’d rather wear men’s gear. It would keep me from feeling like a conservative matron. Realistically, there are limits. I’ve ordered some board shorts from Patagonia. I’m in the anticipatory stage where they haven’t arrived yet, so they are the perfect solution. The problem is what to wear on top. I’m not interested in showing flesh; I’m thinking about a rash guard.
The sentence that aches to be written is “I can’t do that until I have top surgery.” I can try a sports bra or a swimsuit under the rash guard. It is OK if I look like a self-conscious queer. At least the rash guard will be rated UPF-50 and I won’t get sunburned on my shoulders.
I discovered that I am not the only person who is confused about what to wear under my imaginary board shorts. There is a surfing controversy between going commando and wearing some form of boxers or briefs. The commando cons are sand, board wax, and sea lice in your junk, and leaving nothing to the imagination. The layered look cons are feeling like you are wearing a wet diaper under your board shorts, showing panty-lines, and having your underwear band peek out over the rim. I’ll have to take a bath in them and see how they look. And then pretend that surf’s up.
Update: I never went swimming in 2014, but you can read about my purchases of swimming binders, genderqueer swimsuits, and butch friendly swimsuits and compression tops in my 2015 post here.