Tag Archives: breasts

The Mythological “Perfect Bra”

Last week I wrote about boobs and how frustrating it can be to walk around with them attached to you. Breasts can be a constant burden, and in order to deal with them, somewhere along the line, the bra was invented. Compared to its predecessor, the corset, a brassiere would appear to be far less constricting and vastly more comfortable. Unfortunately though they’re still a constant source of torture for most women.

The way I see it, there is a holy triad of awful-to-shop-for items; jeans, bras, and bathing suits. The only reason I find bra shopping the least painful, is because I’ve pretty much given up. No, I haven’t been going bra-less, (though I would if I could) I’ve just settled for a brand that’s alright, and I deal with it. I’m sick of everyone from shop assistants who are toted as “miracle workers”, to Oprah telling me what size bra—and what kind of bra I should be wearing. Especially when after spending way too much money, and way too much time obsessing over it, I still haven’t found a bra that works for me. I’ve tried Victoria’s Secret, Olga, Bali, Natori, Calvin Klein, Wonderbra, Wachoal, Lilyette, and dozens of others. I don’t expect miracles (it’s underwear for god-sakes!) but I would like ample support, and not to feel like I’m wearing a torture device everyday.

I’ve been measured for bras three times. Once it was in Paris, which resulted in a purchase of one of the prettiest bras I’ve ever seen, but also hands down the most itchy and painful. Maybe in France you’re just supposed to suck it up and deal with it, or go bra-less. I’ve been told I was a 38B and a 32DD and neither of them were anywhere near comfortable. The variation in those sizes has led me to believe this whole thing is just a ploy to make money. I’m not sure if Oprah is in on it, but I’m disappointed in her. It’s not easy to find a good bra, and it’s not cheap either. I’ve found myself very frustrated while watching Ms. Winfrey expound the wonders of getting your bust measured, because it used to bring me hope, now it just pisses me off. The 32DD that I purchased actually bore welts into my back, I couldn’t believe it. I knew I wasn’t a 32, I had never worn less than a 34, but I let that saleswomen convince me that I had been misguided all my life and that with one $45 purchase everything would change. When you get measured, I swear they always tell you you’re a dramatically different size than you’ve always been, that way you get excited and buy a new expensive bra—it’s devious. I’ve learned my lesson and now settle for cheap, comfortable bras that don’t fit perfectly and require many wardrobe adjustments and, forgive my language, it’s a total pain in the ass.

The perfect bra is elusive, maybe you’ve never found one and are constantly in search of it, or maybe there was a bra somewhere in your past that seemed so flawless you constantly seek to find its match. It’s depressing that in order to appear “decent” women have to invest large amounts of money in a garment that is both painful and difficult to find, wouldn’t it be nice if they were subsidized? The real problem is we’re just all too different, no two breasts are ever the same, sometimes even if they’re on the same body.

My breasts are two different sizes, that’s a very personal and uncomfortable thing to admit, but I’ve learned that as women, we don’t talk about this stuff enough and if we want our voices to be heard (yes, even if it’s about bras) we need to speak up. So I’ll admit, one of my breasts is a C/D and the other is a D/DD, it’s not even noticeable, but it effects bra shopping and I know for a fact there are other women who have this problem. Tons of people have two different sized feet, so yeah, some of us have the same problem with boobs, that’s life. It’s also just one of many problems women encounter in search of a good brassiere. Some of us need a bra with extra padding, or thick straps, or generous coverage, or maybe we’d like one that actually managed to look somewhat attractive and didn’t make wearing scoop neck tops impossible—and heck, maybe some of use would like all those things at once.

A bra has to be form-fitting, it has to be precise or you get pinching under your arms or spillage over the cup, and then there are straps that slip or bands that rub. After years of wearing bras, and trying them on and being measured for them, I’ve come to this conclusion; we needs bras in more sizes, and those sizes need to be more available. I know it’s expensive, I know it’s hard, but I also know there is an enormous market for it—North American women spend $16 billion a year on bras, for real. I know so many women (myself included) who have sunk at least hundreds of dollars into the search for a perfect bra without success, so someone needs to start researching (any architects out there?) and come up with a new system, because I think this one has failed.

Bras distribute the weight of the breast in such a way that the pressure ends up on your back and shoulders. Even if you don’t have large breasts a bra can contribute to shoulder and back pain, there’s also research which shows wearing a bra may actually make your breasts sag faster, because the pectoral muscles atrophy from lack of use—I don’t know if I buy that one, but maybe I’ll start working my chest muscles more often, just in case.

Wearing a bra makes me feel more pulled together, I feel rebellious if I leave the house without one, but I’m not sure whether that’s because I’ve been wearing them so long, or that it actually feels strange to have my boobs out there with no restraint. I often feel bad for my breasts, all smooshed into a skin-tight garment, tucked and squeezed until they fit a shape utterly different from their natural appearance, it seems unfair and I think they deserve better.

Do we need bras, or do we wear them to appear appropriate? I understand the need for modesty in everyday situations, but why do they need to be so painful? I’m still waiting for the solution. I currently have the same bra in several different colors, and most of the time I feel like I’m popping out of it, but if I go up the next size (either cup or band) it’s way too big. I’ve worn supportive bras that lifted and separated my breasts until they were no longer recognizable, and no longer looked sexy or attractive with the added bonus of making it impossible to wear even modest necklines without bra peek-age. On the other side I’ve had bras that made my breasts look great, but also looked risqué even under a t-shirt. The search for the perfect bra may never end, but I continue to hope for that miracle invention, a bra that supports, pads, and comforts, while also appearing attractive. It shouldn’t be that hard, because boobs are pretty damn sexy all by themselves, and maybe we could work with that.

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Filed under acceptance, health, shopping

Breasts, Boobs, Jugs, Knockers, Whatever You Call ’em—Let’s discuss…

This post was originally going to be about bra shopping, but I decided to make it more basic than that, because as much struggle as I’ve had shopping for bras, I’ve had a lot of trouble just dealing with breasts too, and I have to talk about that first. This subject might seem a tad vulgar to some, but it shouldn’t, because we all have them right? I mean, even men have boobs, so there really shouldn’t be any shame in talking about them, especially since most women have spent a portion of their lives thinking about having them, or not having them, or how to keep them from sagging, or why they grow, or shrink, or provide nourishment, or become infected with disease. Our breasts and our relationships to them make up a large part of being a woman for a number of reasons.

I’m busty, I developed pretty young, I am embarrassed to talk about it, but when I think about it, that seems silly since it’s something I had absolutely no control over. When I was ten my mom finally bit the bullet and told me I needed to start wearing a bra to play soccer, and I know she was long past due in that conversation. I was trying pretty hard to ignore my chest, especially since I was the only girl I knew with visible breasts at that age. It’s why I could never relate to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., it’s why I hated that book, particularly because I kept being told to read it. I hated stupid Margaret and how she thought boobs and periods were so great, because I wanted nothing more than to make them both go away so I could go back outside with my super-soaker and play until the street lights came on.

By Jr. High School I had started wearing a minimizer because I was embarrassed of my chest. Finally, I just said “screw it”, and at my ninth grade promotion dance I wore a delightfully goth brocade dress with insane cleavage, and I was proud. That is until I actually got to the dance and saw my peers, then I covered myself with a shawl for the rest of the night, but you know, it was still a statement for me at the time. I wish I had thrown off that shawl and made no apologies for my risqué ensemble, but I wasn’t there yet. I’ve gone through phases of showing and not showing cleavage and usually I feel more comfortable showing less. After working in an office for a few years I learned that if a woman shows cleavage, she is unfortunately not taken seriously at all. Which sucks, because if I saw a woman rocking some cleavage at a meeting I’d think “damn straight, wear that low-cut top, you look awesome!” but at the same time I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it myself. I know I’d feel the same way about a man who came in wearing incredibly tight pants, I think it’s great, but it’s not for me, and why should I care what someone else wears anyway?

It drives me nuts when people talk about boobs being distracting, because first off—control yourself, and second off, if you can’t look at a woman’s breasts and focus on what she is saying at the same time, you don’t only need to work on your self-control, you need to work on your multitasking. I can do it, I think women check each other out all the time, but then you look away, do it covertly, quickly, and be respectful. If I wear a low-cut top I know some people are going to look, and I’m not going to get pissed off about it, because we tend to hide our parts away so often that when we do show them, people stare, and I understand that. But you can also be polite, there’s a difference between a cursory glance and a glaring, perverted, unapologetic ogle. I hate when I see a girl in the subway tugging at her shirt to hide her cleavage, but that’s why I don’t wear low-cut tops. I hate that there are some people who think showing skin is an open invitation to stare, that it somehow forfeits basic courtesy.

When I do wear a low-cut top, I’m usually not doing it to be sexy, most of the time I do it because I have a cute new dress or top and I just don’t want to wear a camisole under it. Maybe I don’t have one that matches, or it just ruins the line of the dress, or it’s a million degrees outside, or maybe I’m just sick of it! If my boobs are prominently displayed, especially if it’s out in the city, I usually end up regretting it, because I don’t feel comfortable, or I don’t like being stared at. And I’m not saying “oh woe is me, I’m just so beautiful people can’t look away”. If you have ever taken the subway late at night (or even during the day) in any large city, you know it doesn’t take more than a crack of cleavage or a normal knee-length skirt to incite pervy stares.

Obviously a lot of women would like larger breasts, some get implants, or padded bras, and I’m not complaining here, I love my breasts, but it’s other people’s reactions to them throughout my life that have altered my feelings for them. I do like the way my cleavage looks, so maybe I’ll try to show it off more, because why not? I hate that us well-endowed ladies are taught to be embarrassed so early in our lives. I’ll never forget walking down the street in Manhattan with my parents when I was around eleven years old and having a guy shout out “can I get some fries with that shake?” I didn’t even know what it meant, but I knew to be mortified.

I always wonder if women who get implants feel more comfortable showing cleavage, maybe it’s just a personality thing. I hate that I let what I wear be dictated by other people’s reaction to my boobs, but that’s what is considered “decent” and as much as I try not to give a crap what others think, sometimes I just don’t want to deal with worrying about it, so I cover up. I know other women have these problems, I’m sure that small breasted women have this problem all the time too, because it extends to all of us, and it’s not just our breasts either. Somehow showing your body in our society has become an open ticket for tactless torment, and not just by men, there are plenty of women who see showing cleavage as brazen and slutty, and I’m not sure why, I just wish it would stop.

So what’s the solution? Should we all just show what we want, ignore the stares, and screw what everyone else thinks? Should we cover up to avoid uncomfortable ogling? I think it’s a personal choice, but I wish it wasn’t a choice that was so powerfully influenced by the reactions of others, and I can’t help but hope one day it won’t be.

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Filed under acceptance