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Summer's almost here and it's that time. Yes, you need a new bathing suit. No, no, no, now come on back here. That's it. Just sit down and relax.

Take a few deep breaths. C'mon, breathe in through your nose, now out through your mouth. Good girl. I understand completely. Why, the mere thought of the "Suit Ritual" used to send me running to the pantry for a container of Betty Crocker's Rich & Creamy Frosting.

Of course, that was before I knew how to buy a bathing suit. Bathing suit shopping doesn't need to be painful, stressful or emotionally devastating. Department store statistics show that over eighty percent of all women shopping for a bathing suit will leave the store empty handed. Of that eighty percent, a full sixty-five percent will leave the store empty handed, and require sedation.

Those are sad, shameful and totally unnecessary statistics. Finding the perfect suit is simply a matter of understanding the logistics, then following a few simple guidelines. Understand your body type.

Not every suit suits everyone. What suit to pick? Well, if you're a busty gal, look to an under wire for support. If combined with the vee neckline of a surplice bodice, your ample bosom will look perky and proud. Avoid support that pushes up and together, lest small sea creatures become trapped. Love a two piece, but have a tummy? No problem. It's a peek-a-boo tankini for you.

Pull the top as high or low as you dare. In the water a little air, trapped in the top, will give you a sexy, buxom look, and double as a flotation device. Kissing thighs never "kiss and tell" beneath a flirty skirted suit. A pristine white pleated skirt is just the thing this season to hide past sins. Paired with a jaunty sailor's cap, worn at a perky angle, you'll be the belle of the beach.

Think we're finished? Not even close. Deciding your body type is only the beginning. The preparation for your big day should begin at least two weeks prior to shopping. Two Weeks Cut out all salt, sugar, white flour, animal flesh, processed foods, and fat from your diet.

Eat natural foods, like celery, high in water content. If possible, eat only celery. This will enable your body to flush out all the built up toxins. To speed up the cleansing, drink at least twenty glasses of water per day. At first glance, this may seem an excessive amount of water, and it is.

It's rather high. However, the more time spent in the bathroom, the less time standing in front of the fridge. Nuff said? If at all possible, have your doctor prescribe a high dosage diuretic. The foot and leg cramps may be annoying, but just keep your mind focused on the big day, and you'll barely notice them. Check the back of your legs.

After being bundled up in pantyhose and tights all winter, some women develop a rash. This is nothing to be ashamed of, and is easily cured. Your face deserves a facial, so why not give your legs a legcial? Begin with fine grit sandpaper, and gently buff your legs in a circular motion. If you're lucky enough to have access to a belt sander, start on low and slowly work to a medium setting. Those pesky bumps will disappear in no time. Winter clothes, and layering, can make us lazy, so practice holding in your stomach and tucking in your bottom, at the same time.

Remember, our goal is to make shopping day a happy day, so suck in that tummy, and for good measure, tuck a fifty cent piece between your cheeks. If you practice holding it for only twenty minutes a day, why, in six months you'll be able to crack walnuts with those little beauties. One Week A week before the big day; shave, wax, or slather on your favorite depilatory. And no, not just on your legs. My dear, there is nothing more unattractive than appearing to have a Jimi Hendrix-like wig stuffed in your pants.

It simply won't do. Remember, we want to draw the eye to our best features. Purchase a pair of polarized sunglasses. It's a little known fact, but polarization cuts down on the demoralizing effect of dressing room florescent lighting.

Weather permitting; get some sun on your legs. A bit of color will work wonders on loose flabby skin. Or, you might try one of the new sun-less tanning agents. Splurge, buy a name brand. By cutting corners with an off brand, your legs may truly resemble orange peel. The Night Before Pamper yourself with a pedicure.

Yellow-y toenails and dried cuticles have spoiled more than one bathing suit shopping day. And don't forget those crusty heels. No under eye bags for you missy, get a good night's rest. If possible, watch "Beach Blanket Bingo" as you drift off to sleep.

It will put you in the mood, and remind you that real women jiggle. The Big Day Sneak out of the house before anyone else is even awake. And for heaven's sake, no matter what the "experts" say, do not take a friend.

A true friend will lie. So my darlings, go forth, flaunt your newfound confidence and buy that swimsuit. One last warning - Should you run into a twenty five year old, sunglass-less vixen, modeling a thong, retreat, but not before making eye contact. Indicate, in that special, wordless way that women around the world recognize, that she looks fat.

"Sometimes, being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto". Kathy Bates in Delores Claiborne Copyright 2003 D. Gustafson All Rights Reserved For more really swell aspects of mid-life, visit Mama's Secrets, http://www.mamassecrets.com .

By: D. Gustafson


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