As the string bikinis show up, skipping across Coast Highway all barefoot and tender, we suck in and hold our breath just a little, thinking it might help burn calories.
The bikini stores are bedlam right now, frantic and hopeful. For those under 30, there is little fear, only boldness, wondering how far to push it. They splay discreet patches of cloth and rhinestones with surety and imagination.
"It's always been about feeling good about yourself," said Marni Chomenko, a swimwear buyer for Diane's Beachwear. "Once the sun comes out, everybody loves to go out."
For those over 30, it's more about deflection and practicality.
"When you first start shopping for a suit when the season hits, it can be highly depressing, as we know," said Felicia Madrigal, designer at Merrilee's Swimwear. "Different people have different modesty levels — so, how much they like to show, if they're in shape or if they're not. That's why it's nice to provide them with a variety of coverages."
Madrigal is the daughter of the store's founder Merrilee, who opened in it 1977. She has seen a lot of anxiety.
"Different women have different insecurities. For some women it's like, 'Does my butt look big?' For other women, it's, 'Can you see my C-section scar?', or, 'I feel like I don't have big enough boobs in this top.' These are all different insecurities that women have about their bodies. There are different styles that help in those areas."
For men, it's really just about one thing: hemlines. They may rise and fall, but we're still grossly limited by our boardshorts — unless you're from France.
It's a given that we're burly. We're forced to be that way because we store fat for the long winter hunts.
Something like that.
Either way, it doesn't matter your gender or age; the truth is you've been hiding behind sunglasses for years to stare and compare. You covet your neighboring towel and wonder why you didn't get certain indelible gifts. And you chastise yourself for not putting in the workout time during winter.