Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Million Dollar Mermaid— for Less

The original Million Dollar Mermaid

Bathing suits are one topic I've never tackled in this forum. Like pony tail scrunchies, I just don't own any. Because:

1) I can't swim.

2) I should not be out in the sun.

3) I have a monster scar on my upper left arm reminding me I am lucky to be alive and that, really, I should not be out in the sun. The scar is from a melanoma, the skin cancer you most definitely don't want.

Nevertheless, a noodle float and SPF 50 have come to the rescue. Finding a bathing suit has been a challenge. Unlike Padma Lakshmi who pays no attention to her scar from a car accident, my scar does make me feel self-conscious. Okay, Padma has a few other things going for her that I do not.

One occasionally needs a bathing suit. My old standby is a Danskin short-sleeved dance leotard— old but still holding up. It hides the scar but flattens rather than flatters and camouflages nothing. I've tried a surfer chick look with a rash guard shirt as a top, but I feel like an aging Gidget and a surfer fraud. Besides, those things are hot and clammy.

On her it looks good

Annette Kellerman (1885-1975) was the original Million Dollar Mermaid. She was an Australian professional swimmer, vaudeville star, actress and writer who threw off the shackles of the cumbersome pantaloon bathing suit in favor of the first one-piece (neck to toe). She is also credited with inventing synchronized swimming in 1907 and popularized swimming for health and well-being.

Esther Williams (1921-2013) was my Golden Girl. She was a swimming champion headed for the 1940 Olympics when they were cancelled on account of war. Hollywood called, as they say, and Esther became one of MGM's top stars in the '40s and '50s. She played Annette in "Million Dollar Mermaid" and wrote an irreverent autobiography also titled "Million Dollar Mermaid". A smart cookie, she invested in a number of successful businesses, designed swimwear, endorsed a line of pools and made swimming look easy.

Million Dollar Esther

Well, thank you Badgsley-Mishka and T.J. Maxx. For $29.99 I just solved my bathing suit problem with a cocoa-grey swirled and draped hank of Lycra that covers the scar issue— the shoulder straps can be fanned out to form little cap sleeves. The other drapes and gathers give the illusion of both a bust and a flat stomach. I may never take it off.

$29.99 Mermaid

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