Opinion – What’s in a Swimsuit
The soaring temperatures of summer are already getting to everyone and many of us have made a dash for swimming pools as an escape from the sweltering heat.
Being a part of the crowd in the pool, I brought all swimsuits under the scanner.
Just a couple of days at the pool and I noticed something unusual about the preference of swim wear I saw around me.
Men comfortably wore swim briefs, trunks, square leg suits or jammers, irrespective of their body type. Nobody got into the water wearing a t-shirt or full length pants. And isn’t it logical? You pick the type of suit that is the most functional.
Women, too have quite a few choices when it comes to swim-wear. And I am talking about swim-wear not beach-wear. A one-piece, also known as a tank suit or maillot, is most common and appropriate for swimming.
But a glance at the pool showed another picture.
Women try to cover themselves as much as possible. Most suits they wear, have attached shorts, half or full sleeves, skirts or even full slacks. Some women also wear a t-shirt inside or over their swimming costumes.
We always dress for the occasion. So if we are going for a swim, it is but natural to wear something that is comfortable and fits well in the water.
So what is this aversion that women have about displaying their arms or legs? Is it just a question of personal comfort or some ‘dress properly’ type brain-washing as a means to avoid male stares?
Are women taught to be ashamed of their bodies; to such an extent that we cannot even get into the water following the dress-code?
Some women I spoke to said that they did not have a ‘swim-suit figure’. This undoubtedly, is an effect of the media that portrays only lean women with perfect curves in bikinis or monokinis. And that would mean that if I am not a size zero, I do not have the right to step into a pool wearing a tank suit.
Many women might say that they are not comfortable showing off their thighs or arms and this can be a valid reason. But where does this comfort or discomfort come from?
Even kids who did not seem to have any body shape issues were dressed like their mothers. Did they have a choice in the purchase of their suits or did their mothers dictate what was allowed and what wasn’t?
And if that is the case, how did mothers make the decision?
The question of decency and modest dressing has always been a priority in our country. And sports has not been able to escape the gender bias either.
Is it not possible for us to broaden our views and accept something that is logical and natural? We would not learn horse riding in a sari right? Then why must the swim suit bear the brunt? Women should have a chance to take a dive without caring so much about what they wear.
All said and done, in the end, I, being the only one at the pool wearing a tank suit received generous stares from men and women alike. Probably because I had violated the code of how much display of skin is ‘allowed’.