A True Story About Swimsuit Shopping.

There are few things as panic-inducing as getting stuck in a swimsuit in a dressing room.

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It should also be noted that all swimsuit dressing rooms are rigged.

Their mirrors are always without a doubt the fattest mirrors ever created*, and are hung at a downward angle to make you look four foot six. The lighting is custom-built to shine down upon any dimples in your thighs and cast a deep shadow into each cellulite fortress, all while making your face look at least fifteen years wrinklier than you looked before stepping into The Chamber of Horrors.

* Yes, there are fat mirrors and skinny mirrors and if you don’t realize this you need to immediately change that perception because it could significantly aid your self-esteem if you, like me, are in possession of a fat mirror.

And of course, the swimsuit spandex is extra fresh, ready to capture you and mock you endlessly for daring to try on a size too small in hopes of squeezing your muffintop up under your rib cage.

Tankinis were a huge step forward in the swimsuit industry, solving many pressing feminine issues, such as the awkward struggle to take a wet one-piece all the way off for a mid-swim restroom visit. The process is roughly the same as peeling the skin off a live snake, and the very real fear of the one-piece touching the more-than-slightly slimy pool restroom floor can by itself warrant a prescription for Xanax.

(I don’t know what this “Listeria” is that Blue Bell Ice Cream is so desperately scrubbing out of their factories, but I imagine it looks like the viscous semi-liquid that puddles when moist swimmers are the dominant users in a bathroom.)

But the problem with tankinis is their exceptional ability to trap you, as lycra was not made to come over one’s shoulders. They’re made to fit snugly on one’s chest and waist, making them way too small for shoulder blade travel. They also have an internal underwire contraption that is significantly tighter than it needs to be and a shelf bra holding that in place – as if we needed more spandex in the picture.

Okay. Of course we need more spandex in the picture. But dang if it wouldn’t be nice for spandex to have an on/off switch.

So let’s say you don’t quite know your size. So you pick up two sizes. And you forget the cardinal rule of ALWAYS TRY THE BIGGER SIZED SWIMSUIT FIRST.

And you slip that undersized tankini over your head.

Where it stays.

On your head and halfway down your arm pits.

Because to put on a tankini, you have to contort your arms at just the angle where your muscles are rendered inert, then attempt to use those helpless muscles to shoehorn the top down over your boobs and down to your waist. But if you don’t have enough inertia going into the very delicate procedure, the arms WILL get lodged pointing straight at the ceiling as if you were begging God to send you an Angel of Mercy.

(Which you might actually be doing.)

If you do get the top down to its rightful position, you then have to reach back up and retrieve the under-bra from where it got stuck on your nose and tuck it down into the top, shimmying and shaking as you do so in an attempt to also pull the back of the shelf bra off of your left shoulder, which is always just at the wrong angle to be able to reach.

(Not to mention the laparoscopic surgery that has to be done to get those angry little football-shaped bra pads out of the bra corner that they’re hiding in.)

Once you get everything in place and see how nicely this suit accentuates every angle of your bulges along with your C-Section overhang and how the skort just barely doesn’t cover a single dimple of your preciously highlighted cellulite, it’s time to take the whole thing off and start over.

So you cross your arms and attempt to pull the top over your head, where it gets lodged inside-out with your arms crossed in the air, even more immobile than what occurred on the way down.

The bra portion of the swimsuit, though, is exactly where it is supposed to be – for once. And is not going to be leaving anytime soon.

For a moment you wish you’d let your eight-year-old daughter come in the dressing room with you because you LITERALLY DON’T KNOW HOW YOU WILL ESCAPE. Then you immediately change your mind – as if she’d ever listen to you again after seeing your sad condition.

“Mommy, are you okay?”

Crap. She heard your muffled groans. Why can’t swimsuits be more soundproof?!

You decide to start over.

You pull the top back down and this time, try taking it off one arm first. Now you’ve simply captured one side of your body, but have the good arm to work with.

Scissors. They should have emergency scissors in all dressing rooms.

“Ma’am, can I get you anything?”

BLAST IT ALL! Now the store clerk knows. They know they desperate, flailing sounds of a woman stuck in a swimsuit and fantasizing about seam rippers.

“MM-I’m MM-Finmme. Thmks Thnohg.”

You start whipping your body around the dressing room – left, right, left, right – illogically trying to fling the bathing suit against the wall. You know this won’t work but you’re in primal mode now – like a dog trying to get a cone of shame off his neck.

Finally, the adrenaline kicks in. You get a dose of unreal shoulder muscle and you’re able to Hulk your way out of the tankini.

Freedom!!!!

You don’t dare try on the bigger size and swear off swimsuit shopping for the year. Last year’s swimsuit will do just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Then, as you’re calmly placing the now abused swimsuit back onto the wooden hanger to attempt to appear as if nothing violent happened while the two of you were alone,

you get a splinter in your finger.

A few days later, you have an epiphany that sends you into a kicking-the-furniture fit: you can totally step into tankini tops just like a one piece…and never ever ever get stuck.