Kim Kardashian caught a lot of flack recently when she suggested that "no pregnancy style" is perhaps the best pregnancy style.
"If you can do it, hide. Never leave the house," said the famous mom, adding, "Wear a huge blanket."
At first, like pretty much every other woman on the planet, I naturally found her comments to be wildly insensitive and ridiculously impractical. But after spending approximately 800 self-esteem-killing hours shopping for a maternity swimsuit, I'm starting to think Kim might be on to something. As a torture device, I'd have to say the maternity swimsuit ranks somewhere between the rack and the Iron Maiden (the fact that those of us fated to its clutches are forced to purchase our own instrument of doom only adds insult to injury).
Seriously, if not for the potential sweat-inducing issues associated with wearing an oversized afghan on the beach, I'd be cutting armholes in my bedspread and telling curious sunbathers Kim Kardashian made me do it. But since heatstroke sucks and this trend is unlikely to catch on, I will instead share these five stages of maternity swimsuit shopping with you in the hopes that they might help other moms-to-be out there cope with a highly traumatic, yet tragically unavoidable, summertime experience.
1. I Can't Possibly Look Like This From Behind (Denial)
Three-way mirrors are soul-crushing windows into the depths of hell under the best of circumstances; put a pregnant lady wearing an ill-fitting tankini in front of them and expect nothing short of a full-scale nervous breakdown. At least from the front or the side, the reason I have no waistline is obvious. Catching an unadulterated glimpse of my bathing suit-clad rearview makes me want to slap a "Baby on Board" sign on my back as a feeble means of explanation.
2. What Sort of Sadistic, Woman-Hating %*#@ Designs These Things?! (Anger)
Leopard print? Strapless?! About 10 minutes into my shopping trip, I became convinced that most maternity bathing suit designers harbor not-so-secret vendettas against pregnant women and, as such, have devoted their lives to devising the most unflattering garments possible for this poor, beleaguered demographic. Haha, you know what would be really messed up? If we made the bra cups super tiny and dipped the whole thing in eye-catching hot pink glitter!
3. Maybe I Can Just Squeeze Into a Regular Swimsuit (Bargaining)
Don't listen to this desperate voice in your head, ladies. Don't do it!! Therein lies the path to madness, i.e., nearly strangling yourself in the dressing room trying to squeeze into a simple black non-maternity two-piece that looked relatively roomy on the hanger but somehow morphed into Barbie doll clothes the second you put it on. Learn from my mistakes.
4. I Guess I'll Just Sit Under an Umbrella Wearing a Caftan While Everybody Else Has a Good Time (Depression)
The lowest point of the shopping trip, this is the part where you resign yourself (however temporarily) to what seems like an unavoidable reality at the time: Summer fun is not for the likes of you. And you can't even drown your sorrows in frozen margaritas. Excuse me, I'm just going to sit in this dressing room for the rest of my life and cry.
5. Fine, I'll Just Buy This Marginally Hideous Polka Dot Suit So I Can Get the Hell Out of Here Already (Acceptance)
They say time heals all wounds. In this case, enough time spent under fluorescent lighting in front of three-way mirrors erases all previous notions of what your body is supposed to look like in a swimsuit. Approximately 15 bathing suits into my quest, my back and feet were so sore I was ready to walk out of the store with a tie-dyed number that only half covered my nipples (thankfully, my 13-year-old daughter stopped me). Which brings me to my most valuable piece of advice: NEVER, EVER GO MATERNITY SWIMSUIT SHOPPING ALONE.