Lessons from a Failed Tube Top Experiment – My Messy Beautiful



If you have found your way here through Momastery’s Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project, WELCOME! I hope you enjoy this warrior’s messy, beautiful story today!




I’m not a tube top woman. Trust me. Few things in life—scratch that—one thing in life would ever get me to wear one. And let’s just say that experience offered quite the surprise insight.

As a half-Italian kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, I didn’t give much thought to whether or not I had a tan. When it was summer I was outside, and therefore, tan. Period. (Sunscreen wasn’t even around, so don’t give me a hard time.) It wasn’t until the summer of my wedding that I ever thought twice about tanning or tan lines.

My wedding was in late July, but early that summer I spent a long afternoon in the sun in my typical careless manner…wearing a tank top. I came home to distinct tan lines across my shoulders, and then it dawned on me: my wedding gown was strapless. Uh-oh.

What to do? Suddenly this girl who never paid attention to sun exposure was in overdrive to get the white from underneath the straps caught up to the new darker tone. This is not so easy to do. I took every moment I could to lay out (ack!) and try to have the color even out.

Never one to like just lying in the sun and baking, I decided to take drastic measures. I bought a tube top (aka bandeau) that I could wear and “be active” in—but only hidden in the backyard. These things are not what I would term “secure” attire. I found myself frequently hiking the slippery devil back into place and gingerly getting my work done.

As the handyman for my mom’s house since my dad died, I had a pretty wide range of abilities in getting tasks done, and one afternoon I needed to put new flashing on the roof of the shed. Not a problem, just climb up there and get to it. Let me tell, you, though—if you’ve never been up on an asphalt shingled roof, it’s not only hot, but the shingles have a rough, almost Velcro-like texture to them. So…there I was, splayed up on the roof, putting on some new flashing in my “tan-catch-up” wardrobe…

All was fine until the screwdriver decided to roll away from me and head toward the edge of the roof. I sprung up to grab for it, and…can you picture it?

As I shot up, my top didn’t. Gripped by the asphalt shingles, it stayed in place long enough for my left breast—let’s be real here—my left boob to pop out and peer over into the neighbor’s yard and all God’s creation.

Oh, the thoughts that passed through my mind in that brief moment. Thankfully, the neighbors were not in that part of the yard to see Lefty’s wide-eyed hello, but I was mortified.

And here comes the life lesson…are you ready? When your boob pops out, you just need to tuck it back in and get on with your business.

In that moment of mortification, I realized that that was all I could do. That and have a good laugh. I must have been one ridiculous site—the Tube Top Roofer.

But I didn’t give up and climb down—I finished the job, tube top and all (though I made sure there would be no more rolling tools to chase).

After that, I assessed how crazy I was in my attempts to solve my tan line problem and lightened up (pun so intended). By then the distinctness of the lines had lessened and it wasn’t quite as noticeable, but I was also done caring so much about it. The Tube Top Roofer retired.

My wedding day came, and even though the faded tan lines were there, I don’t think too many people noticed. At least no one came up to me and said, “You look beautiful—too bad about the tan lines, though.”


tan lines with text
Ah, the late 90s…


Sometimes it takes a boob popping out to put things in perspective. And sometimes it takes tucking a boob back in to remind me that I am one resilient woman, and it would take so much more to get me off of that metaphorical roof.

My life is a continual reminder that my plan does not equal reality—that my schedule is not THE schedule…and that real strength comes from adapting and making the best of what is indeed reality, rather than lamenting how things didn’t go “my” way.

Errant tan lines happen. Boobs pop out. But weddings happen, and even honeymoons do, too.



And then it is back to making a life and rolling with the changes—and tucking boobs back in and getting on with the business of living.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

PS—I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, you may also like where I write about my Beautifully Broken self. It was inspired by Glennon Doyle Melton’s series on Sacred Scared.

23 thoughts on “Lessons from a Failed Tube Top Experiment – My Messy Beautiful

  1. It’s rather difficult to type a comment when I’m laughing so much from reading your post. It reminded me of the time when my former co-workers were waiting to go cross at a busy intersection. and a mentally unstable man came right up a woman beside us and pulled her tube top down. She was too shocked to cover herself and another person quickly pulled her tank up. Nice wedding photo.

  2. Ah, the Tube Top Roofer!

    I won’t soon forget her, or
    her wisdom for life–thank you!!

    You looked glowing on your
    wedding day and I’m sure that
    was all anybody noticed : )

    xo Suzanne

  3. Sent here through the Messy Beautiful Warrior Project. The words “tube top” in the title led me to read this essay first. My grandmother recently died and she was the tube top queen. When I was a teenager, she would hire my friends and I to help her with yard work. She was a “hip” grandmother and always did her yard work in her tube top. I was always worried my friends and I would witness a nip slip. That never happened. Although, once she climbed a ladder and as we were handing boxes up to her we learned that her yard work attire did NOT include underwear. In fact, we learned that she never wore underwear. And when she died a few months ago, my father and aunt had to buy a new pair or underwear for her to be buried in because there were none to be found in her house. I’m not sure what kind of perspective this was supposed to give us? She certainly never got her panties in a wad 😉

    1. Ela…I am certain that I have never read the words “grandmother” and “tube top queen” in the same sentence! Love what you share here (though a bit creeped out by it, too :))! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Love! My boob almost popped out AT my wedding! (Slinky strap broke, while giving our “thanks for coming” speech, whoops!) So we are kindred spirits in wardrobe malfunction. Thanks for stopping by le blog. Great to “meet” you!

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