“I didn’t know where you were!” he exclaimed.

I Look Like an Oompa Loompa

Stories of a Midlife Bikini Mom
3 min readSep 5, 2023


“I look like an Oompa Loompa.”

The makeup artist had just finished doing her work and I gazed back at myself in the mirror. My face was orange — like tangerine, Oompa Loompa orange. All I needed was green hair and a catchy little tune and dance.

“Yes, that’s a good way to put it. But I promise it will match the second coating of tan when you are done,” she empathized.

Great, I thought, I will be covered in orange from head to toe.

Trusting the process, as I have been for the past few months, I paid my balance via Venmo and stepped out of the chair. Walking back out into the hallway, I debated as to when I would need to change into my show bikini. The space was abuzz with people. Some sat on blankets on the floor, some paced back and forth talking to their coaches, others posed in front of the full length mirrors they brought with them.

My rolling suitcase sat across from a couple of the ladies I knew from posing class. We chatted a bit, and then I spotted my boyfriend, bag slung across his shoulder looking a bit anxious, walking down the hallway and meeting my eyes.

“I didn’t know where you were!” he exclaimed.

“I know, I know, sorry. I was getting my makeup done.” He neglected to comment on my orange hue. Smart move.

He nodded to the ladies sitting across from me and set down his bag next to mine. I checked my phone to look at my meal plan for the day. I had already looked at it several times that morning, but I looked again. I could eat a rice cake and two Tofurkey deli slices.

My coach had a very specific outline of what I should eat at what times throughout the day. There apparently is a science to it — many coaches run a carb deplete before the show and the carb up a few days prior. The day of the show carbs should be higher but not so high that your body “spills” or you bloat up and look too soft.

I fumbled in my suitcase for the rice cakes and peanut butter. I was allowed 8 grams of peanut butter, but didn’t bother pulling out my scale to weigh it.

So much for science, I thought.

Nerves actually kept my appetite at bay so the eating part was kind of just something to keep me busy.

I realized I had to pee. I searched in my suitcase again and pulled out a styrofoam cup. Some women use a tool that resembles a funnel to use the restroom. This is so if there is any splatter or drippage, the tan doesn’t have spots or marks on it. Some women just risk it and hover. Others — like me — use a cup and poke a hole in it.

When I bought the cups a few days ago the check out clerk — a young guy in his late 20s, and donning a pentagram necklace — remarked that he didn’t see many people buying styrofoam cups these days. He then started talking about things from the past and the environment which led to some show he watches on the History Channel that gives interesting, little-known tidbits about history.

I thought about telling him I was going to pee through it, but I kept it to myself.

So now I have my cup and I slip into the bathroom.

Inside women are changing, checking their hair, commenting on each others’ suits. I’m shy but also make a comment on someone’s suit — a Figure division girl. They have the coolest suits with patterns and colors.

Back out into the hallway I wait. I check my posing in someone’s mirror. I chat with my posing coach who happens to be there. I check my meal plan for 67th time. I wax on about wondering when is the appropriate time to change into our suits.

One of the women says we can go get our second coat of tan. Ah! something to DO!

Off to get naked yet again in front of complete strangers.