This summer will be different. I threw out my butch standard issue Speedo racerbacks. I’ve hit the point of no return. I didn’t swim at all last year. This year I’m swimming genderqueer. This year I am putting together, as Donna refers to it, a cockamamie swim outfit. Without the cock.
I’m only entertaining swimsuits that appeal to my masculine side. Everyone has an idealized version of what they want to look like on the beach. I have mine. Even if the style is 100 years old. Even if the original was made out of wool jersey, and the style was discarded when swimsuits started to be manufactured from modern materials.
Swimsuit styles haven’t changed that much in the past 70 years. Men having been wearing trunks since the 1930’s; the bikini was introduced in 1946. Nylon, Lycra, and Elastane changed the color palette and the silhouette. Last summer, I saw kids and adults of all genders wearing rash guards in the water for sun protection, and fashion. This summer, I’m going to join them.
During the past year I have amassed, as yet unworn:
- A pair of boy shorts from Danae (I also bought a compression swim top). See notes below.
- A pair of black boy shorts from Outplay and a matching light compression swim top. I have mixed feelings about these. See notes below..
- A pair of Patagonia ocean blue board shorts (19 inch outseam) and a pair of Saturday navy blue board shorts (15 inch outseam).
- A navy blue UPF 50+ short sleeve rash guard from Quiksilver.
- A black and white UPF 50+ sleeveless rash guard from O’Neill.
I’ve got until the end of June to figure out the puzzle. I reserved a cottage for a week in July for the three of us (me, Donna, and Gracie). We will be staying near the beach in a small dog-friendly cottage colony. If I’m not comfortable on the beach I’ll be spending a lot of time in the communal garden reading with Gracie.
The beaches on Cape Ann have rules. No dogs, no alcohol, no bon fires, no camping, no nude sunbathing. I’ve never seen a woman go topless there, not even face down on her own towel. It isn’t Europe.
Men and women are supposed to be equal under the law. The law should not be based on a straight male eroticization of women’s bodies. I’m for nipple equality, and not just because I had top surgery (my surgeon told me to keep my scars covered this summer). I’d like to feel the sun on my chest. This year a rash guard. Next year we will see.
Notes: Lots of notes this week. An interesting article on nipple equality from The Atlantic. If you are interested in a picture history of swimsuits, Weather.com has a great slide show. If you are interested in the homoerotic history of nude bathing (health) and nude swimming (sport) this website has a ton of information; don’t miss the Life magazine section on boys swimming in the nude. It comes from a lengthy jingoist article on democracy in schools.
Danae is based in Amsterdam; they specialize in binders and swimsuits for trans and gender non-conforming people. I bought a regular binder, a swimming binder, and swim bottoms from them. The binder was too tight (I never liked any binder except for velcro ones). The swimming binder had too much compression – the compression fabric went to the bottom of the shirt and I couldn’t sit due to the pressure on my stomach (this is a theme). The shorts are great (and have a little pocket for a packer). I tried to cut out the back compression panel in the swim top and butchered it – my fault. Danae is willing to make swim tops with compression only in the front, or no compression at all. They are very nice, respond to emails promptly, and ship fast considering they are in Amsterdam. I highly recommend them.
Outplay is a lesbian owned company, based in Miami, with less of a track record. They make board shorts, swim tops, and swim shorts that I would wear. They are trying hard, but they don’t have a lot in stock, and it can take a long time to process orders. They offer a high and a low compression swim top (low works for me) and they said they were going to make a no compression swim top, which would be ideal. Their sizing was initially off, and I had to exchange stuff several times. It all got straightened out, but it was frustrating – by the time they sent me the low compression top I had missed the summer and I was a week away from top surgery. I hope they make it, but be forewarned that it is not like shopping at Zappos.