Updated: Jul 23
I promise despite the title, this is absolutely NOT a feel sorry for me or tell me I’m beautiful anyway article. This is a have a laugh at my expense, I don’t take myself too seriously, and a motivating, have a go, you don’t have to be fit & thin to have fun, article.
Last Saturday I had a paddle boarding lesson with my son Tobs and my friend Catherine at Hove lagoon water sports. I am not sporty; I am not fit and I am overweight.
On the way there I was scared I would look awful, break a limb/knock out my teeth, not be able to stand up and make a fool of myself. The worst of the above, all happened (and I don’t mean I broke a limb or lost teeth)… But I absolutely loved it.
I would recommend you have a go if you fancy it, you have to book ahead, the lesson included hire of the board, buoyancy aid, wetsuit and 2 hours tuition. https://www.lagoon.co.uk/. The instructor was lovely, the group were all beginners and by the end of the lesson we all stood up, were able to change direction, slow down and make a controlled turn, yes, even me.
For the sake of the blog and the fact it's hilarious. I am prepared to share the shame of me falling spectacularly. You will see my son Tobs in the background doing brilliantly, with all his father’s agility & co-ordination, like he was born on a board. My husband decided he does not need a lesson, he watched & made a video of ours and will therefore look and be, brilliant.
Having decided we are going to take it up, as we live 5 minutes from the beach, next to a river & a sailing lake, I was excited to get all the gear (no idea).
Buying a short fat lady wetsuit
People who have lived with being overweight will recognise my habit…… “let me make a joke at my expense before anyone else does it” I do this all the time. I find it often backfires and it just highlights the situation. For those that don’t have this affliction here is a brilliant example of me making an idiot of myself.
Tobs & I went to the surf shop, Ocean Sports, Board Riders, Hove. https://www.boardriders.co.uk/.
Based on my online research they have the widest - excuse the pun, fat lady wetsuit collection in Sussex. There were three “shortie styles” I could try, which is brilliant compared to some shops. (I am a dress size 16).
A lovely young boy who looked not much older than my 15-year-old son, asks us kindly if we needed help. I said we need a couple of wetsuits; one for Toby, (the lovely boy looked very comfortable in finding one for Toby) and one for a short fat lady who is not here yet. (the lovely boy looked worried). He said, “do you know what size she is?” I said I’m only joking the other one is for me.
He looked very embarrassed, so I tried to laugh and to make it less awkward and then he said “I did wonder” Oh god.......Epic fail at being jolly, funny, happy with self-image & deflecting the fat issue...will I never learn?
I went off red faced to find the 3 suits that might fit, while the lovely boy showed Toby (who’s also cringing at his Mum) the 100’s of styles and shapes that would fit him.
We asked to try them on and were not allowed to use the changing room facility because of Covid. So, the kind boy said we could try them on in a corner of the shop?!?!! We went to a shop rather than online, so that I could try it on, rather than have the nightmare of returning a wetsuit, so I felt I should see it through. OMG why did I do it to myself.
Tobs tried his first and favourite one, he looked brilliant, job done.
I got stuck half in/half out of my first one, my worst nightmare. Tobs tried to pull it up while simultaneously shielding my modesty & his embarrassment.
The second one I got on & zipped up. I thought it looked quite good and the boy, trying to helpful said it’s meant to be tight. I think he may have meant it was a bit too tight, but I went for it as it looked way better than the other one and I couldn't face getting stuck in the last choice.
Tobs, who just wanted to go after I’d displayed my ample boobs, belly & bum in the shop, said it’s fine mum. That poor child will need counselling. I did have one small moment of triumph when we discovered I could buy kids surf shoes & save money because my feet are small......
I must say everyone at Ocean sports was lovely, helpful and they did deliver a wetsuit that fit. Their breadth of stock is brilliant, check stock online https://www.boardriders.co.uk/ The young boy was just so kind and helpful and it was not his fault he had a paranoid lady making jokes.
Curvy lady Wetsuit Tips
Do not be easily put off, life is too short. I apologise for being a rubbish example, I body shame myself all the time, but I am determined to give it a go and you can too!
At first glance manufacturers / retailers appear to assume you are a size 0 to 10 if you need a wetsuit. Finding stock in 12 -16 is initially difficult but NOT impossible.
Quick rant ...In my search I googled curvy lady wetsuits and found multiple articles of curvy scuba divers and water sports enthusiasts frustrated with the limited choice and availability. This is mortifying and so counterproductive. How are you ever meant to be motivated to have a go at exercise and getting fit if finding the kit is so hard & humiliating. It is the same with gym gear... end of rant!
But there is hope...
Wetsuits need to be a second skin/tight, you may need a size smaller than you wear in clothes, which is a bonus. Mine was an American size 12 (UK 14) and a front zip is much easier to get on
Lots of brands are in American sizes, so the biggest size may only be a 12 or a 14 but that is a UK 14 or 16 which is a bit better. Online stores don’t always make that clear
Like all clothes different brands are generous or small fitting. A lovely experienced chap in Ocean sports said the one I got stuck in was especially lean cut. So, do ask about cut, I didn’t, I was too busy trying to get down with the kids
XCEL make suits specifically for curvy people, see this link to brilliant article by girls that scuba. https://www.girlsthatscuba.com/larger-womens-scuba-wetsuits-xcel-hydroflex/
Aquazealots have also written an excellent review of wetsuits for curvy girls. https://aquazealots.com/best-womens-plus-size-wetsuit-reviews/
Twobarefeet.co.uk is a great online site with specific mention to suits for curvy ladies, a great wetsuit buying guide and realistic size options up to 2XL https://www.twobarefeet.co.uk/
I also found this article on deep blue.com about buying plus-size wetsuits by Harmony Riveros that I thought was brilliant and informative https://www.deepblu.com/mag/index.php/2019/11/22/everything-you-need-to-know-about-plus-size-wetsuits It mentions an American company making curvy wetsuits called Truliwetsuits.com https://www.truliwetsuits.com/ They are based in the US and Canada so maybe not a quick option, but worth contacting for European distributors.
I hope the research saves you time and gives you the motivation and confidence to have a go, if I can do it, anyone can. I cannot wait to get started. The SUP (stand up paddleboard) for the non-professionals 😊 comes this week. I will write a quick review once it arrives and we have pumped it up etc.
I may write more about being curvy, being the best you… It is my lifestyle and area of expertise for the time being, especially until I give up cheesy chips. I am hoping getting active again will trigger the healthy eating, but I will not put my life on hold till then.
Fantastic burger courtesy of the Abergavenny Arms, Rodmell, this is where we went afterwards and yes I had chips... https://www.abergavennyarms.com/
Let me know if I can research something else for the curvy lady because I have probably been there, done that...