The Summer of the Magical Unicorn Swimsuit

This is my daughter’s swimsuit. Feast your eyes.


This suit has been pulled from the dirty clothes hamper, crumpled and wrinkly, and it’s giving off a strong whiff of chlorine. Even so, it is wondrous.

I only bought this garish, LSD-inspired concoction because my ten-year-old begged for it mercilessly (and it was on clearance). I guess she caught me at a weak moment, because I’m still not sure how she convinced me to shelve all my buttoned-down navy-blue principles, plunk down a whole $10, and give Lucy my blessing to wear this thing in public.

But Lucy loves this suit as if it gives her magical powers. And I now believe it does.

This swimsuit makes her brave. She parades around in it without a trace of self-consciousness, without the first thought of covering up a little body that isn’t quite as svelte as her friends’. “Who cares if there’s a pot belly under there?” she seems to be thinking. “The unicorn is awesome, and thus I AM AWESOME.”

This swimsuit makes her happy. It makes her light. It makes her totally at home with who she is.

I marvel that anyone could feel that way in a swimsuit.

I stare at her and wonder, “What must it be like to be that sweetly imperfect and JUST. NOT. CARE?” She is a superhero with a dazzling white unicorn emblazoned across her barrel chest, and it is a thing of beauty and strength.

I’m afraid the magic will wear off soon. I fear that summers to come will bring downcast eyes and oversized T-shirts and stolen glances at what other closer-to-perfect girls in bikinis look like.

That’s what teenage summers brought me. And honestly, it’s what summer brings me still. I hate to admit I haven’t outgrown all the dumb comparisons, the fear of other eyes, the deadening impulse to skip swimming or playing or living life–just so I can better hide my lumps, bumps, and lack of lady humps from the watching world.

I wish my girl could wear this unicorn swimsuit forever, letting it imbue her with joy and fearlessness every summer of her life.

But even if the spell is broken too soon, whatever she wears, whoever she grows to be, this girl is my hero.

This girl will always be my very own magical unicorn.



2 thoughts on “The Summer of the Magical Unicorn Swimsuit

  1. Thank you for this story. I loved seeing the Lovely Miss Lucy in her trippy mythical swimsuit this summer, cavorting (isn’t that what unicorns do?) in the surf. Emma came home and cut off all of her hair in a pixie and it gave her a whole new confidence. Vive la difference!! XO

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