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