As the sun rises in the sky, days get longer and the chilly wind is replaced by warm air, the seas and oceans around Cornwall call me to their shores. I am running out of swimwear. With rises in online shopping choices due to lockdowns, with Amazon and eBay competing with a wide range of eCommerce retails, I start searching for styles, colours and patterns I would like in my size. Big SEO fail if it is out there. I have combed the Internet for months!
This is unfair and it is discrimination. I am being discriminated against by people who sell items but do not want my money. Let’s get this straight. My mother was born in 1940, which means she was rationed until her teens. She died aged 50 (my age now) and spent the last 3 decades of her life, post-rationing, worrying about her weight and denying herself items, which the medical and food industries were telling us were unhealthy.
My grandmother – pictured with her mother, my great grandmother, who lived to the age of 80 – died aged 49, a year younger than I am now. My father’s mother also died aged 49. This was the generation who had children at the start of world war 2 and were rationed for almost two decades afterwards.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the diet industry, media, food manufacturers, commodity brokers and healthcare ganged up on the post rationing public and told us sugar was OK and dietary fat was bad, caused weight gain, heart problems, high blood pressure and blocked our arteries. In fact, all these health conditions are caused by sugar. We have been grossly lied to, manipulated and deceived, with our health and lives put on the line in the interests of profit. (Sound familiar?).
So tell me, in 2021 aged 50 as I was born in 1970, 15 years after the end of rationing, how am I meant to know what my healthy weight should be? There are many healthy people who are classed ‘overweight’. We do not really know, though we have been told a version of events for years, what a healthy body mass index should be. Surely, we can gauge health by how often we need medical treatment?
I was born with hearing loss and an underactive thyroid, which is now known to be caused by iodine deficiency in the womb. In 1970 this was not known and no dietary supplements or other prevention were considered, although my grandfather was a GP on Harley Street, who studied and wrote papers on allergies and reactions to food.
That is where the huge gaps in the market for independent designers appear. Some photographs of my mother’s from the early 1950s, when they went swimming in near Trevone in Cornwall appeared. All the swimwear had the flattering, straight leg, which seemed to sit naturally on the bend between leg and hip.
I do not understand why styles from previous decades are not incorporated into today’s fashions. Where are the big, wide colours on coats and jackets? Where are the swishing, wide bottom trousers with supportive upper leg fit?
Where are the bright colours and thoughful patterns? Where are the skirt lengths, which show shins and cover knees? Where are the waists?
I narrowed my searches to colours and descriptions I liked. There were either tankinis, high waisted bottoms, “boyleg” shorts or ruched, all-in-one styles, which would be flattering on me. I find a style I like, then I meet the next barrier: sizing.
Tell me what S, M, L or XL means? There’s a size guide. That leaps into exact measurements for bust, waist and hips. Who knows these? Surely shoppers just want a 12, 14, 16 etc or European, widely used and well-recognised 38, 40, 42 etc?
Therefore, what I am finding is that buying swim-wear in a size, colour and style I would like (without pop-ups cluttering my journey and trying to hijack my attention, which just makes my head hurt trying to stay focused) extremely difficult. It never ceases to amaze me how bad we are at selling in the UK. There is a lot of ego, which seems to be involved as if designers are saying “I don’t want this worn by the over size 16s” so they make it extremely difficult to find that suit in a size 20.
Has anyone – who wants to make more money – considered how off-putting it is to have a label, which might escape the seam at the back of a costume, advertising that it is extra, extra, extra large instead of “size 20”?
It does seem as if businesses selling women’s swimwear are not presented by women.
Here is my checklist for maximising women’s swimwear sales across eBay, Amazon, Etsy and independent retailers.
- Styles – why not have one graph, where all the styles of swimwear can be seen side-by-side with terms used to describe them and allow users to click on the styles they want to add them to their basket.
- Colours – once editing the item in their basket, they could see a colour guide for the style they want.
- Sizes – once the styles and colours are selected, the shopper can then see which are available in their size, which would be presented as numeric, widely-used and recognised as European, UK and USA sizes, depending how global sales are.
- Keyword search for patterns and motifs. For swimwear, what about marine life? Seahorses are beautiful shapes yet impossible, I mean absolutely impossible to find in a attractive, adult swimwear. Why is this? If they appear at all they are small or mass-designed for tea-towels, cushion covers and swim-suits.
- Shoulder straps not halternecks, these suit a more diverse should size and shape, whereas halternecks make wide shoulders look even wider.
It really seems as if styles are sewn up. We are led to believe there is wide choice, when in fact we are being herded towards a restricted range of availability, designed to remind us to know our place.
I just ordered a swimsuit from Pour Moi and the invoice description suggested I had only bought the bottoms. Maybe the idea is to wear us down until we just buy something to not waste the hours searching. It is the same with dresses. The photos do not provide vital information, such as zips and catches. I bought a dress, which held together around the waist with a popper! One big breath or too many mussels and full-on fat-shaming display of flesh for the whole of Events Square.
Then, finally, I find a style I like. They have my size in numerals. They have the flattering leg and high waist. They do it in a red or other bright primary colour and it has a tankini top.
But it’s a halterneck. These are only flattering on those with a medium width shoulders, not the rest of us.
Come on designers. There’s a massive gap in the market for good shopping websites and apps as well as easy-to-browse styles, colours, fabric pattern designs and widely-recognised, quick to choose sizes. Please do NOT forget to take a good picture of the back and front and not from above to make a full figured model look fatter and hide half the costume being sold.
Here, Pour Moi even have colour and style I like AND a colour and style range but complete failure on the sizing. Not only is it overcomplicated when it can be one size, as many other similar styles ARE, but it has a very restricted range, clearly saying this flattering style is ONLY and exclusively for size 32.