Hello. My name is Beth. Last night I bought a swimsuit…

and I Survived.

Minnetonka, MN 2014
Minnetonka, MN 2014

In the interest of full disclosure and before I launch into my swimsuit-picking-out ordeal, I offer this disclaimer: No, my husband has not posted a picture of my backside in a bikini on Instagram (he doesn’t have an account wink wink), or my front side, for that matter.  If he ever does, I apologize in advance. The only reason my boobs look big is because of my giant barreling ribcage underneath them.  As far as my diet and exercise habits go, I am not Paleo. I do not starve myself. I do not work out seventy-three hours a day. I do not run marathons, or do Crossfit, or participate in bike races with all of my equally fit lady friends.  I do not wear tank tops, and here is why. I think t-shirts hold in my upper arm jiggle, or as I sometimes call them, “my batwings.”

I am Gluten Free (yes, a “for real” wheat allergy). I try to walk or hike each day. And as hard as I have tried to work my work-out-resistant triceps, my upper arm jiggle is not going anywhere.  My mom’s prayers have been answered, because I no longer hide my body in super baggy clothes.

In a few short hours we leave for Costa Rica. Costa Rica is hot and humid. I know we will be at the beach, swimming pools and visiting hot springs. As much as I wish I could either wear a snowsuit or simply go naked, I cannot. You and I both know wearing a snowsuit might kill me, and the sight of me going naked might kill you (at least with laughter).

I went to two stores, Nordstrom and Athleta.  Because of their most liberal return policies, visiting these two stores was a very calculated move. In Nordstrom I saw a suit that I liked until I saw the gold fasteners. I do not wear gold. I knew my time was short so I walked out of the store, headed over to the escalator, went down and walked myself over to Athleta.  As I entered the store in an anxiety haze seventeen (two) girls asked if I needed help. Like fourteen year old boy asking a girl to dance, my words came out clunky and awkward.  “I am just looking.” I said really, really loud.  I was so loud that the manager had to explain to the co-worker, “just give her some space.” It was a hilarious dance between traumatized swimsuit shopper and eager sales girl. I worked my way over and over through the store when at last the now-drooling sales girl was able to cut in.

“I like bottoms that cover everything.” I said.

To which she responded, “Have you seen our bottom chart?”


Pointing at the bottom chart she said, “Look.”

“I like that one.” I responded. Consumed in nerves I could not read the words below the high coverage bottoms: ONLINE ONLY. I wanted to run out of the store screaming. I could not. I had waited until the last minute. I took a deep breath and said, “Do you have anything in the store with high coverage? And not this bright blue.”

Let me tell you something about me, and probably my generation. We were raised at a time when black is how we felt on the inside [wink wink]. We were reared in black and we will always wear black, and all of its varying shades. Black is always available, even when it is not in.  “Do you have something in black?”

She tried to push me into the navy with the pinkish stripe boy short. “No. I said black.” She tried for straight up navy. “No. Let’s try the black.” Finally and thank god, (because the Gap across the way does not have the same generous return policy) she led me to the black swimsuits. Hey and remember if you are ever buying a swimsuit at the last minute, or anytime, for that matter, calm yourself and do not let yourself get pushed into something you will never wear.

I am short. One pieces do not fit me well. I saw the tankini tops. And because of my giant ribcage I was able to size my trick boobs into the B/C cup-size. “They do not come any smaller.” She urged.

We grabbed a top. We grabbed some bottoms. And as sweat gathered on my upper lip, we walked the plank. I mean, we headed over to the dressing room. “Beth, I will be here if you need me.” She was not here when I needed her.  Alone in that dressing room, I stood for a very long moment, naked and afraid.  Thank goodness I heard a mom admonishing her young son, “I am going to take my clothes off. Are you sure you want to come in the dressing room with me? “ And then I heard her sales associate.  This was my chance. So as I stood with only a tankini top on I whispered, “Hey, can you grab me the swim skirt in a different size?”  Hold up. Yes, it is true. I move from the synched swim bottom to the swim skirt. They were out of the swim short. The biking bottoms prominently displayed my C-section scar.

“Sure, what size do you need?” As she ran to get my size, I heard her bump into my original sales lady. There was no blood, but close. Good. I was now distracted by my own naked body staring at me in the mirror. New sales lady won and brought me the correct size.

I stood looking in the mirror and thought, “for last minute this black tankini isn’t so bad.” Then I quietly peered through the slit in the dressing room curtain. Slowly I opened the curtain and stepped outside. The fact that I could actually stand in a shopping mall dressing area with a swimsuit on was the test. I did it. The new sales lady came back. We talked suits. We talked fit. She did not throw up at the sight of me. Dear Mother Earth, I think we have a winner! I bought a swimsuit. I bought a swimsuit on my own! I will leave my snow-suit at home. And if I chicken out, remember, there is always the awesome return policy to fall back on.