Today, I underwent one of the cruelest tortures a civilized society is capable of inflicting upon the female body.

I went swimsuit shopping.

I hadn’t planned to go. Maybe that was my mistake. I should probably have spent a week in fasting, meditation, and repentance before heading out, to psychologically armor myself. It might have helped. But I was at Target,* and they were having a sale, and I had recently been reminded that I was invited to a pool party on Memorial Day, and christ on a cracker, that’s a week away, so…um…yeah. Might as well pick one up while I was there.

Possibly this is just what I deserve for shopping at Target. There’s all sorts of great places to buy swimsuits, I just waited until a week out, because…um…I suck.

It has been approximately twenty months since the last time I looked for a swimsuit, and I blogged about it then as a humiliating experience. But this time–this time surely I would have no problem! I’d dropped EIGHT dress sizes since then. I am now a size 8 with a 36D rack. I have a great body, goddamnit. Uninterested third parties of the wrong gender have volunteered that I have a great ass. Surely now I can shop for a swimsuit with confidence! Surely now this would not be a death march of shame, humiliation, and cellulite!

Apparently the swimsuit manufacturers have not been informed of this. Were I either a prepubescent boy or a Holstein with a thyroid condition, my needs would have been more than adequately met. Falling somewhere in the middle, I was shit outta luck.

They had mix-‘n-match separates. Theoretically this should mean that I can easily find the sizes that fit both top and bottom. “Great!” sez I. “Let’s see…I’m a…err…what the hell size am I? Large? Medium? XL? Eh, let’s try all three…”

Let the record show that apparently size 8 is “extra large” in bikini-bottom-land. What the hell, man? What was I when I was a size 16, then–Ultra-Mecha-Jumbo? And even the extra large made me look like I was trying to smuggle watermelons in my ass.

Disgusted, I tried on tops, only to discover that apparently as far as breasts go, “D” stands for “here there be Dragons.” I wear plenty of low-cut shirts without qualm, I’m perfectly happy with the rack, but I need SUPPORT, damnit! Those things do not levitate on their own! If you’re not going to give me a mammary anti-grav device, then at least give me a little more cloth! Is there a worldwide spandex shortage? No? Then why does the XXL look like I was in a freak double areola accident and tried to fix it with paisley bandaids?

I did about twenty minutes of this body image self-flagellation, and then decided that maybe my bikini days are behind me. This is particularly ironic, because twelve hours earlier, I had been strolling through the boyfriend’s bedroom wearing a bra and a thong, caught a glimpse in the mirror, and felt smug as hell. And that covered half the surface area of the bikini! What the hell was going on here!?

Maybe I could claim to have come down with 48-hour leprosy, and should avoid the pool until it cleared up. Or I could, y’know, spend the next week finally mastering the art of tying a sari. Or a burka. Hmm, no, there’s a bunch of Lutherans involved, the burka’s probably right out. Not that they’d SAY anything, they’d be very nice about it, I’m sure, but Lutherans can offer you hot dish and lime jello in ways that would involve a gauntlet across the face and seconds at dawn in other cultures. Hmm.

No, damnit. I’m reasonably young and reasonably good-looking. There is no bloody reason I shouldn’t look good in a bathing suit. Okay. I’m calm. I’m zen. XL? Fine. This is a reflection on the state of the clothing industry, not me. Where are the one pieces?

…And then I learned that apparently the manufacturers assume that if you are wearing an XL one-piece, you resemble the goddess Tauret, and it is their duty to hide your gross bulk from view. I didn’t need a pool, I was swimming in fabric, even without the little skirt they thoughtfully attached to spare the world from the sight of my ass. I looked in the mirror. I looked like a pudgy teenager wearing a cheerleader outfit two sizes too large. In white leopard print. I looked at the label. Same manufacturers as the bikinis. The sizes weren’t even consistent within the brand. *sigh*

It’s enough to make one start inching into the maternity section and start surreptitiously scoping out the bathing suits.

At last I located a burgandy one-piece that seemed an adequate compromise–i.e. people would be so busy waiting for the breasts to fall out of the top that they probably wouldn’t notice what it did to my hips. Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses.

…now, to learn to tie that sari…

*Surge protector, razors, granola and lube. A well-balanced geek shopping list!

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