Like many women, I loathe swimsuit shopping. I’m a firm believer in getting in the pool and enjoying summer, no matter your body type. However, finding something to wear to the pool can be a downright nightmare. I want to be comfortable, confident, and cute. Scrolling through the online swimsuit options is overwhelming, to say the least.
Not only am I trying to find swimwear that I can bend over in without any body parts falling out, but I want something that keeps my “foobs” in check. Three years ago, I had a nipple- and skin-sparing bilateral mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In the same surgery, I got implants, resulting in fake boobs, which I endearingly refer to as my foobs. Thankfully, something rather magical happened this week when I was browsing Target’s website. I discovered that they’re now offering mastectomy-friendly swimsuits for the upcoming swim season.
When you’ve had your own breast tissue removed and replaced with an implant, there are some unique challenges when it comes to purchasing swimwear. First, I don’t have any sensation in my breasts. I don’t want to have a boob pop out, unbeknownst to me, while I’m hosting a pool party or while waving at the neighbor. There aren’t enough margaritas in the world to deal with that embarrassment. I need my suit to stay where it is supposed to. Nip slip isn’t my jam.
Second, my new and improved boobs are very round, perfectly symmetrical, and high. They stay in place. Yes, they look amazing (thanks to my plastic surgeon), however, they are anything but natural. Swimwear is made for natural bodies with flexible parts, not silicone breasts that don’t have any give. Like my boobs, I need my swimwear to stay in place.
Implants can wrinkle (I’m not kidding), when I bend over, so I also don’t want the only thing covering them to be two tiny triangles. A supportive swim top is an absolute must-have. The other issue is that without breast sensation, I don’t have that sunburn warning either. It’s important to keep skin protected, and in my case, I can only do a visual inspection and not just go by skin-warmth. However, I’m not going to wear a bag-of-a-suit to the pool.
Complicated? You bet. Which is why I’m so happy that Target has produced several swimsuit options for those of us who are breast cancer survivors. The suits offering padding or space for breast prosthetics and a shelf-bra for support. Also, the suits are sans underwire. Underwire is a no-no when you’ve had a mastectomy. It can hit the wrong place (without me knowing, because I can’t feel my chest) and cause abrasions. Underwire can also dig into surgical scars. Ouch! There’s also the terrifying risk that an underwire will come out of its designated space and puncture the implant.
The straps on the new mastectomy-friendly suits are adjustable, so each woman can adapt her suit top to fit her needs and comfort level. Some survivors choose to get implants, like I do, while others decide to skip the implants and go flat. Other women decide to use prosthetics. Whatever the choice, the suits work.
The suits Target rolled out this year offer coverage, but they certainly aren’t your grandma’s swimsuit. Thankfully. Target kept in mind that breast cancer patients can be as young as in their twenties, and young women generally don’t want to wear a tent of a suit to the pool. There are one- and two-piece options.
Target must have done their research. Breast cancer is the second leading type of cancer in women. In the United States every year, there are 245,000 new cases. 11% of breast cancer cases occur in women under the age of forty-five. I was among those, diagnosed at age thirty-five. Not all women who have breast cancer have the same treatment plan that requires a mastectomy, though many do. Other and additional options may include radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. Every breast cancer case is unique.
There are a million reasons to love Target, and this is number 1,000,001. As a breast cancer survivor, I’m grateful to have options when it comes to swimwear. I want to enjoy the sunshine and water as much as the next woman, without worrying about feeling uncomfortable.
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