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For Big Girls Only

Everything You Wanted to Know About (My) Bras but Were Afraid to Ask

Katy Perry’s jeweled bra (an A or B for sure!)

Note: See Update and Link at the end of this post. (May 31, 2013)

Big Girls Only: You know who you are. Unlike those adorable little women with the 34-B’s, we can’t just casually pick up any old bra whenever we happen to see one we like–in fact, when it comes to big bras, the question of “liking” never enters the equation. Our smaller sisters see a bra in some whimsical design or of sexy lace, they buy it without even trying it on, while we who dwell in D-Plus territory must spend hours in dressing rooms shoving our breasts into ill-fitting bras, and are limited to black, white, and dingy beige. Still, color is far from our biggest problem: if only it were.

Last week I felt a sudden sharp stab in my right underarm. A hasty investigation revealed that the metal underwire of my black bra had burst through the fabric and was working its way into my flesh. I should not have been surprised, considering that the bra was more than five years old. It takes a lot to get me to go bra shopping. What it takes is precisely this: metal stabbing my underarm.

This murderous bra had been purchased in a closet-sized shop on Orchard Street in New York. I’d read a New Yorker story about the ancient crone owner who takes one brief look when you walk in, pronounces you a 36C or 40DD or whatever, digs it out of one of the thousands of boxes lining the shelves, and leads you into the dressing room with it. She made me bend forward and shake my breasts into the cups while she pulled and tugged, adjusting hooks and straps. True to the claims in the New Yorker story, the bra fit me perfectly….actually, it was a bit snug, but she insisted it was supposed to be, so I bit the bullet, figuring this was just another instance of “we must suffer for beauty.”

This was one of my more positive bra-buying experiences: they haven’t all gone so smoothly. When I lived in a small country town, the adorable B- girl who owned the only lingerie shop for miles around actually shuddered when she saw the underwire I was wearing. They are medieval–but elastic rides up if you so much as lift a finger, so underwires are actually more comfortable. What does a B-girl know about bras, even a lingerie shopkeeper?

I didn’t always wear them–though I’ve never been perky, there was a time when
elastic did me just fine. I graduated into underwires during my mid-30’s, after half a decade of going bra-less in the name of liberation. Good idea, that one: gravity had its way with my breasts, and they haven’t been manageable since.

Flash forward to this morning, to Lane Bryant, the oldest big girl’s store in America. I went early so as to avoid holiday shoppers. With no other customers in the place, the salesgirl devoted herself to me entirely, fetching higher letters and numbers as necessary while I waited in the dressing room. (I will not, will not, will not reveal my size here on the Internet for all eternity! Do not ask again!) Except for my pathetic mis-estimation of my size, the try-ons ran smoothly, and I found a bra that fit so perfectly I thought I was dreaming…in my Maidenform bra, of course.

I got dressed and told the salesgirl I’d take two in black and two in white. I am usually more cautious–I normally buy only one bra at a time, waiting to see how it feels after a full day’s torture before going back to buy more of the same. But in this case I felt so comfortable, I was willing to take the chance. So guess what? They had only one in black, and were out of whites. It figures. But then she showed me four of them in wild designs! Do you hear me, D-plus sisters? They’re snazzing up the big bras at last! I bought a red-and-black checkered bra, a first, my heart beating madly. I could barely contain my excitement. I am wearing it now, and it’s still comfortable after three happy hours.

I’ll soon go back to order more. In the meantime, hope is soaring in these boobs of mine, as they anticipate new and better designs. They love the checkers, but a whole new world’s opened up, and they want more. Leopard skin, tiger stripes, hearts, naughty pictures! Bring on the tie-dye! Flowers, spirals, sequins and lace…my breasts’ desires are limitless.


May 31, 2013: Article today in NYTimes about a revolutionary new way of measuring–and an expensive way of selling!–bras. The comments are almost better than the story!


2 responses »

  1. Marcy, I found your site from your comment on my flash fiction post. First, thanks for commenting. I appreciate your kind words. As you know, writing can be isolating, so anytime someone reaches out, it means a lot.

    Second, I’m having a great time reading your blog! This post, in particular! I just went through a very similar situation, but it was my white bra that had the blow out. My very favorite! Off to Lane Bryant, where they only had one in my size and it was black. Grrr. Must be a conspiracy.

    Thanks again for commenting on my blog. I’ll be adding yours to my reader. You’ve got some great writing here. ~ Olivia

    Ditto to you about commenting! And thank you. How eerie that we had similar bra experiences. Readers: Go visit Olivia’s blog–she’s a fine writer!–MS

  2. From a newlywed man who has yet to purchase (or tag along for bra shopping) a bra for the mrs. (she also has similar bra needs to yours), I salute you! And, about Obama… (earlier post), quite disappointing, I know.

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