Women. Y'all know you
should have to wear underwear when trying on bathing suits. Right? Right?
Well you're a bunch of fibbers because due to some recent research and my retail work PTSD, evidence suggests that the answer to this question is a big fat no.
Let's talk science first
New York University's School of Medicine has an extra awesome clinical professor of microbiology and pathology (who seriously deserves a raise after conducting this research). Dr. Philip Tierno painstakingly collected presumably truckloads of clothing of all types bought from retail stores.
What was his goal? To determine which items carried the most microflora (that's the double-icky bacteria from your large intestine). Predictably, underwear and swimwear possessed the most of this sweet sounding organism. Dr. Tierno also found skin, fecal bacteria and vaginal organisms (like yeast) all over these babies. Hell, he even found salmonella! Some of the fecal matter can give you diarrhea—others, Hepatitis A. Yes, even when the little sticky paper strip were attached to the bikini bottom, germs were present on the suit.
Though Dr. Tierno argues that most of us possess immune systems strong enough to fight off the ailments that result from such specimens, it's still unsettling. In rare cases you could contract deadlier bacteria (like MRSA, which is an antibiotic resistant staph infection).
And, really, think about it: Do you really want someone else's poop in your vagina? No. How about yeast? Or, even just a few stray pubes? Ew. Ew. EW.
How does this happen?!
I worked in retail stores from high school through college. Time to let you in on a little secret: most women don't wear underwear when trying on swimwear. Yes, tags gently remind us to don underwear when trying on anything but for some reason, ladies love ignoring this. (I guess because their maybe granny panties stuffed into a string bikini bottom isn't achieving the beach-babe mirror look they're after.)
In the five years I worked in clothing stores, several hundred women pulled me into their fitting rooms to get my "real" opinion of a swimsuit. I would estimate that—no exaggeration—about 90% of these ladies openly placed their underwear on the floor when donning our garments. Think about that.
How to avoid these disgusting germs:
1. ALWAYS WEAR UNDERWEAR WHEN TRYING ON SWIMSUITS AND UNDERWEAR. No exceptions. EVER.
2. Wash your newly purchased garments before wearing them.
3. If you plan to purchase a bathing suit, ask the sales associate if she could find you an untouched set in the stockroom. Explain your concerns. She might not have another option for you, but it's worth a try.
4. Wash your hands after trying on clothes.
5. If possible, shower after shopping.
6. If you can afford it, don't try on sale bathing suits. Sale items are manhandled by everyone who walks in the store.
7. Do you have to see your bum in bikini bottoms before buying them? I mean, I know I do, but typically a triangle of fabric is a triangle of fabric; it's our pesky, all-different breasts that tend to be trickier in finding tops.
8. Share this article with your friends and drop knowledge.
Image: Germs. Germs EVERYWHERE. Courtesy of ThinkStock