Nina Franzen, age eighteen, needed a suit for camp. No, not Bikini Bootcamp, the Mexican beach getaway for men and women who pray that they'll get in swimsuit shape by spending a week eating spa food and taking power walks, yoga classes, and Mayan clay skin treatments in a setting that in no way resembles Fort Benning. No, the Vermont summer camp where Nina is working as a counsellor is the kind that does not have four-hundred-thread count linens on the bunks. What type of bathing suit did she need? "Let's put it this way," she told her mother, the cartoonist Roz Chast, during a trip to the Danbury Fair Mall. "It used to be kind of a clothing-optional camp, i.e., it has a liberal dress code." Surveying the racks at H&M, Nina declared, "No doodads. I want something that says, 'Don't even look at me.'" Roz picked up a Matthew Williamson Spirographish-print bikini. "These are so tiny!" she said. "I could wear them on my ears."

"Would you even let me wear this?" Nina asked, brandishing a faux-snakeskin bikini with metal aglets. At Macy's, where a black tank suit with turquoise piping caught my eye, Nina pronounced, "All bathing suits fall into one of these categories: floral, animal print, poor color choice, middle-aged, or Grandma's curtains if you're on mushrooms. But, anyway, they are all a ploy. Either you go naked or you wear your clothes."

At J. Crew, regarding a turquoise bikini with a bandeau top, Nina said, "I refuse to wear a bathing suit that doesn't acknowledge that there are two boobs and not one loaf o' boob."

-- Patricia Marx, "Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny," the New Yorker, August 3, 2009