A bikini-shopping-induced meltdown

I’ve had a bit of a rant before about how current trends seem to be strongly anti-boob, or at least anti those who require a decent amount of underwiring and strap action to get any kind of lift and shape, but a recent shopping experience has prompted me to revisit the topic.

Bikini shopping is fairly traumatic at the best of times, and for those of us who are rocking anything more than a C-cup it’s downright stressful.  Those little bandeau tops that offer bugger-all in the way of support?  No thanks.  Monokinis?  Hell no.  Flimsy little triangles that barely cover your nipples?  Piss off.  I’ve recently lost a bit of weight, resulting in boob shrink-age, so rather optimistically I thought that this year’s bikini shop would be slightly easier than it has in the past.  Cue bitter retrospective laughing…

Off I went, merrily skipping along to Topshop, which it turns out is the worst place you could possibly go to buy a bikini that fits anyone other than teenagers with small breasts and large allowances.  For a brand that claims to be at the forefront of high street fashion, Topshop really doesn’t seem to have a clue how the female figure works.  There I was, confronted with a whole wall of pretty-looking bikini tops and bottoms, thinking I’d hit the beachwear jackpot, until I started looking closer at the sizing.  Instead of getting 32C, 36D, 34A etc, sizes 8, 10 and 12 glared balefully back at me from the tags.  WHAT IS A SIZE 10 BOOB??  How does that even work?  Why were there no cup sizes?!  With steely determination I grabbed a range of sizes off the racks and stomped over to the Topshop changing rooms, aka awfully-lit cubicles of hell where you’re pretty much guaranteed to develop an eating disorder.

My changing room experience went something like this:

  • Minute 1: strip down to underwear, try to avoid looking at self in mirror but fail, question whether this is one of those mirrors that adds about 6 kilos
  • Minute 2: try on Size 10 bikini top with tie back, conclude that Size 10 is too small in terms of cup size, also conclude that this is one of the worst mirrors I’ve ever encountered, consider starving for the next week
  • Minute 3: try on Size 10 bandeau bikini top, boobs have never looked worse, take the thing off so quickly that I pull a muscle in my shoulder, lots of swearing
  • Minute 4: now sweating quite a lot and really regretting this whole outing, try on Size 10 bikini top with un-adjustable back, cups definitely way too small but strap across back is too loose.  What the hell is going on?!
  • Minute 5: changing room floor now littered with rejected items, reach for Size 12 bikini top with tie back, turns out whoever designed this has no idea of how an individual breast is shaped
  • Minute 6: mutter under breath about sadistic bikini designers who are out to banish all women with anything larger than bee stings on their chests while struggling back into normal clothes
  • Minute 7: give up trying to put bikinis back on hangers, storm out of cubicle of hell, grimace at changing room assistant and flee shop

So, I’m now going to use the money that I would have spent in Topshop on counselling.  Quite frankly, I’m baffled by how such a prominent store can get something like bikini top sizes so wrong.  The ridiculousness of it was compounded when I went to H&M straight afterwards and found a whole host of bikinis in proper cup sizes.  Hooray!  Clearly the head honchos at H&M understand that breasts cannot be reduced to the even numbers of clothing; I’d like to shake their hand.

Why is the fashion industry so strongly anti-boob?  Why does each new summer trend present major problems for those of us requiring some feat of engineering to get a decent silhouette?  We’re all being encouraged to show side boob and cleavage and wear tops and dresses that are slashed to the navel, but for all of the women out there that need to strap down their fun bags so they don’t end up taking someone’s eye out, this is pretty much impossible.  Even if Kim Kardashian is doing us curvy ladies a favour by flaunting her assets and unapologetically so, she’s taking some of that away by frequently going bra-less and proving that her lady lumps defy gravity.  So what are the rest of us meant to do?  Get uplift surgery?  I’ll start saving now…