I was a late bloomer—the last person in my class to get a bra—or need one. When I was in gym class in 9th grade, and the other girls in the locker room saw me in my little undershirt, they thought it was hysterical. I was mortified.
Eventually, although not much was happening yet in the chest area, I mustered up my courage and asked my mother if I couldn’t have a bra. The truth was, I had been waiting for her to tell me when it was time, just as she had informed me when it was time for me to start wearing deodorant. (I suspect that my lack of deodorant had a direct impact on her and my lack of a bra didn’t.) I approached her tearfully and fearfully, afraid she would laugh at me because I didn’t have a whole lot to justify taking this big step. The emotion of the moment for me wasn’t lost on her; she was more than compassionate about it and apologized to me for not noticing sooner.
My first bra was really nothing but a glorified undershirt. It was a size AAA, which meant that it was a piece of stretchy cloth with two straps. My friends used to call their bras “over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders”; mine was more like an under-the-arms-rib-cage-cover.
I used to fantasize about how it would feel to be a big bosomed woman with a heaving chest being kissed passionately by Clark Gable the way he kissed Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. It just wouldn’t do to be kissed by Clark Gable without the heaving chest to go with it. By the time I got a chest worth heaving, Clark was dead and buried. I had to settle for heaving chest moments with lesser men, so it was a bit of a let-down—never quite as spectacular as I had imagined after seeing it on the silver screen.
But I digress. I believe I was talking about bras. And here’s the thing about bras. I have no doubt that they were invented by men, along with spike heeled shoes and spandex mini-skirts. Could they be any more uncomfortable? I have women friends who get miffed about the Victoria Secret models and their unrealistic portrayal of women. I think they’re unreal, too. But not just because they have bodies like no woman I know, with big boobs, no hips and a complete absence of cellulite, spider veins, moles or zits. They’re unreal because they’re standing around in bras... and they appear to be having a good time!
Walking around all day wearing a bra is sheer torture, which is one of the reasons why I would thoroughly enjoy the solitary life of a hermit. When I'm alone I don't have to worry about offending other people with my unruly breasts. Whenever I'm forced to endure the harness for my public hours with the masses and I finally arrive home at night, my bra is the first thing that comes off after I walk in the door. Often before I’ve even closed the door. No more pinching and squeezing and lifting and pulling. I can breathe again! Believe me, if I were still a triple A, I wouldn’t be wearing one, ever. Unfortunately, my AAA days are long gone. Now I'm what the bra manufacturers call "full-figured."
Back when I was Flatsy Nancy and dreamt of what it would be like to have big boobs, I never imagined it quite like this. I thought full-figured was synonymous with voluptuous (ala Marilyn Monroe), but that’s not a word I would use to describe myself. I’m not voluptuous; I’m just old. My big ol' DDD bra isn’t sexy. It’s just necessary to hold my puppies in place so they don’t go wandering off and bother people.
One of the things I’ve learned through the years is that bras are a lot like shoes in that you don’t want to pick up any old booby binder just because it’s cheap. No amount of savings is worth the resulting discomfort. If you want to come even remotely close to comfortable, you have to be willing to pay for it. So, this week I bought myself a new bra and it cost me $80. As in 80 freakin’ dollars! For $80 I could have treated myself to something truly comfortable, like a fancy massage with a mud wrap. Damn. $80. There seems to be a direct correlation with the price of bras and the level of their necessity—insofar as refraining from grossing the rest of the world out is a necessity. The older one gets, the more necessary a good bra becomes. So I pay the price. And y’all can thank me for that!
I remember back in the 60s when women were burning their bras. The bra was rightfully viewed as a symbol of oppression. Feminists were fed up and they weren’t going to take it anymore. The fires of freedom were stoked with Maidenform bras. Those were the good old days. If the movement makes a comeback, I’m so in.