Bras. Most adults living in developed countries are in contact with a bra, I would venture to say, on a regular basis. If not personally, then by association.
The industry is designed so, that even if you’re not touching a bra, you’re at least seeing them. In advertisements or in the stores.
Bra size is one of the numbers women in the Western world are assigned throughout their life.
We know our weight, our height, our shoe size, our pant size, and our bra size. We are in intimate relationships with these numbers.
So, after working to lose over 100 pounds these past two years, and still wearing my 38-40 DD’s, it was well past time to buy a new bra. Or five.
Mistake #1. Thinking a major retail outlet for bras (bras are their business) would be having a sale the weekend before Valentine’s Day and heading to the mall to cash in on this sale. Sadness ensued when in fact, there was no such sale, on bras at least. And, I didn’t need three pairs of panties for $25 (the bullseye store has me covered on that end), the only sale they had going.
Mistake #2. Just because there was no sale on bras, didn’t stop my fellow consumers from flocking to said store the Saturday before V-Day, which added to my already mounting anxiety. So. Many. People. SO MANY. You could barely walk around, displays that are cram packed together, littered with women, and men, digging through the stock pile to find bras. It was becoming too much and I was only five minutes in.
Mistake #3. Actually following through and getting fitted. I have to say here that I have a good friend who works at said retailer and even though she was working like mad behind the register, she still took the time to come out from behind the madness and measure me before handing me over to the very busy fitter. My friend was not the issue, and neither was the fitter. The issue was me, but the busy fitter didn’t help. She remeasured me and came up with a different number than my friend. So this adds to the mistake because once I was inside the bra-cave, I did indeed end up with a first bra that was too big. I told her that before I even tried it on, but she didn’t listen. Again, adding to the mistake.
My body doesn’t look like it did 110 pounds ago. My boobs sure as hell don’t look like they did 110 pounds ago. Losing so much weight, having breastfed three kids, and being 35…my boobs look like deflated balloons, that once they are shoved into a hideous push-up bra, look like wrinkled, shriveled, spongy, tiny melons. Yes. All of those things. They are not attractive, not to me, and not even in a push-up bra. Which is NOT what I was looking for.
Again, busy fitter didn’t listen. I was specific. I’ve recently lost a lot of weight. I need an everyday bra with a little extra support and shape. I was given a bra that was too big, then a bra that was too small. Once we got the size right, I was handed four different bras with varying degrees of push-up capability. All but one of them made me feel like my boobs were around my neck. Standing in the bra-cave with a woman whose reply to my angst was, “Well that’s not your body anymore,” was not where I wanted to be anymore.
Mistake #4. Not speaking up. You see, the thing is, this IS my body. It might not be almost 300 pounds and in a DD any longer, but it is still my body. While it now fits into a 36C with only minimal push-up, it still belongs to me. They are STILL my boobs. But instead of advocating for myself, which I am very good at doing, I let it slide, took my sizing card and let busy fitter shove me back out into the crowd with a directional wave as to where I could find the style and size I needed. On my own, in the middle of the chaos, I sent my husband a text and said I was ready. But when he came walking back in, I just wanted to sink into a hole and leave. Which we did. I was too overwhelmed by the last 20 minutes of my life to even care about buying new bras.
It wasn’t busy fitter’s fault. I was just another customer in her cave, but I could’ve told her, “Now you look here, this IS still my body, and not in spite of the changes, but including these changes. ‘Not my body anymore?’ Oh yes it is!” Buuutttt, I didn’t. Even the strong get overwhelmed and have moments of apprehension. This was one of them. I wanted to cry. I was made to feel ashamed for the body I had, 100 pounds ago, and the body I have now. That is no place a woman standing without a top on in a glitzy room with a full size body mirror looking for help with her boobs wants to be.
Our breasts are part of who we are, even if they don’t exist anymore. They are a piece of our stories that we carry as women and men. Wives, mothers, survivors, and transformers. Whether we’re born with them, create them, hide them, add to them, or remove them, they are still and always will be part of us. We need to honor and cherish them, yes boobs, as part of our life narratives. Some of us are ready to make that commitment, some of us are not. Some of us are forced into that choice, and some of us take years to get there. Either way, we don’t have to let this number become a burden to us, the way we drag ourselves up on to the scales with or into a dressing room with.
Screw these numbers. My weight, my shoes, my jeans, my bra…they do not define me. They are still me, but not me at the same time.
I’m ready to have another go at bra shopping. But not at the mall, maybe back at the bullseye. Small steps.