A Bra Of One’s Own

A day late, but yes, this is the long-promised blog post where I talk about boobs. Watch my search ranking shoot up 1000%!

Yes, an entire 4000 word post on boobs!

Joan Christina Hendricks Mad Men Get Your Tits On

GET YOUR TITS ON, EVERYONE.

Let’s start with story time:

In the early days of my college years, I accompanied my Future Wife* on her first trip bra shopping. Or rather, her first trip shopping for an underwire bra: until the fateful bra-shopping day, Future wife had been a very happy sports-bra aficionado.
But now she wanted to try “traditional” brassieres. And I, the resident expert, stepped in to help.

[What is a resident expert, you ask? Well, on top of all my other wonderful qualifications, I have a PhD in lingerie. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement]

Now, faithful reader, if you yourself do not wear bras, you may be wondering what the difference is between a sports bra and a more traditional – or “underwire” – bra.

Quick Demonstration:

1. Underwire Bra: has individual cups that are usually molded to fit the shape of the wearer’s breast. [I mean, that's the theory. For 90% of bra-wearers, not so much]

fat heffalump plus size model bra

UNDERWIRE

2. Sports Bras: Sports bras restrict the movement of breasts, and are thus particularly useful for athletic activity (hence the name). They can be – and often are – worn in non-athletic contexts.

Venus and Serena Williams NY Times Magazine Deuce Sports Bra

Venus and Serena Williams, both wearing sports bra.

Bra-wearing folks sometimes prefer one type of bra to the other, and sometimes wear a combination of the two, depending on the occasion/ the clothes/ the physical activity/ what’s not in the laundry. It’s entirely a matter of personal taste.

Clear?

Clear!

Great. Let’s move back to the story.

Now, although I don’t have a PhD in lingerie (OKAY I LIED ABOUT THAT, SORRY), I had purchased underwire bras before. I therefore had a pretty decent idea of where Future Wife and I should shop. Since Future Wife and I were both poor college students, I steered her towards H&M, a magical store where you could buy an underwire bra for less than $20.

[Another random fact for non-bra-wearers: $20 is CHEAP for a bra. For comparison, bras at Victoria Secret, the most (in)famous lingerie store in the USA, usually cost at around $50.]

Future Wife liked H&M. But Future Wife also likes to try new things. Future Wife likes adventures. Future Wife likes to explore.

Future Wife wanted to go to the Victoria’s Secret store.

Victoria's Secret Store

Victoria’s Secret Store

Miranda Kerr, Victoria's Secret Commerical Boobs

Average Victoria’s Secret Commercial

Oh boy. OH BOY.

See, even though I was slightly more of an underwire bra expert than Future Wife, I had never been into a Victoria’s Secret store. In fact, I’d been avoiding it for most of my bra-possessing lifetime.

And I did not think putting a Modern-Day Hippie (Future Wife) and a Humorless Feminist (Me) in a Victoria’s Secret store was going to end well.

Victoria's secret Advertisement Miranda Kerr

Women as Christmas presents. Stay classy, Victoria’s Secret. Stay Classy.

But I was wrong. So, so, so wrong.

Putting a Humorless Feminist and a Modern-Day Hippie in Victoria’s Secret? HILARIOUS.

***

First: Future Wife discovers the Victoria’s Secret price tag

“This is eighty dollars! Why is it eighty dollars? It’s a piece of CLOTH.”

“To be fair, I’m sure there are at least four pieces of cloth involved in there.”

“I could sew a bra together for less than TEN dollars.”

“But would it have a pink-leopard-spot pattern? WOULD IT?”

“True. I’m not sure if I could live without the pink leopard spots.”

Victoria's Secret Pink Leopard Spotted Bra

PINK LEOPARD SPOTS. You’re welcome, Internet.

Second: Future Wife discovers the concept of a Push-Up bra

“What is this?”

“Oh, that’s padding. It’s a push-up bra.”

“… A push-up bra? Are you supposed to do push-ups in them?”

“No, you see, the inserted padding pushes your breasts up and makes them look bigger and bouncier.”

“Like balloons?”

“I mean, kind of – okay, yes. Like balloons.”

Victoria's Secret, Bra, Zebra Print Push-Up

At least a LITTLE like balloons.

“But what’s the point?”

“You’re asking me? What do I know?”

“Well, you’re the expert.”

“I mean – I think guys are supposed to like bigger boobs more? Maybe?”

“Yeah, well, I like being able to walk around without my breasts looking like balloons.”

“Me too.”

“The guys will just have to live with my non-balloon-y breasts.”

“A true tragedy, but I think they’ll live.”

“Where are the non-push-up bras?”

“They’ve got to be around here somewhere.”

*ten minutes of futile searching later*

“I told you we should have stuck with H&M.”

“Wait, this one doesn’t have padding.”

“That’s because it’s for triple D breasts. What about this one – OH MY GOD.”

“WHAT?”

“WHERE DO THE BOOBS GO?”

I had just discovered Victoria’s Secret’s Crowning Achievement: the double-padded bra. That’s right. DOUBLE. PADDED.

Inside of a 2 cup size bra

This image does not do justice to the ENORMITY of the padding. It was almost overflowing.

Maidenform Bra, Victoria's Secret, Giraffe Print d

The Add-two-cups Bra is now called the “Maidenform.” Also, what’s with the animal print, Victoria’s Secret?

“I don’t – I don’t understand. There’s so much padding, there’s no room for the breasts.”

“No, see, I think if you insert the nipple here and like, tape it down, it might be doable.”

“Yeah, cause I really want to tape down my nipple.”

“Fair point.

“What is this, one inch of padding?”

“Are you kidding? I think it’s two inches deep near the bottom.”

“Oh, I found the tag. Apparently it’s an “add-two-cup-sizes” bra.”

“Two cups? TWO CUPS? Why don’t you just stick two cups down your T-shirt? It would have the same effect.’

“Although much less comfortable.”

“True. This padding is very squishy. Wonder what’s in it.”

“Probably foam.”

” WAIT, WHAT DOES SHAVING CREAM HAVE TO DO WITH ANY OF THIS?”

I should note that as of the time I found the double-padded bra section of Victoria’s Secret, we were basically crying with laughter. You have to imagine this entire exchange interrupted with hysterical giggles. And an increasingly worried-looking staff hovering nearby.

Andrew Garfield laughing GIF

Like this, but with two people

“Some cups are made of foam. STYRO-foam.”

“WORST JOKE EVER.”

“GAH. Why would you even wear this? It practically makes your breasts levitate! It’s like putting them on a TRAY.”

“No, I think I’ve figured it out! There’s some kind of horrible boob-punching gang running around Wisconsin, and in order to protect our breasts from terrible damage, we need to wear extra padding!”

“That must be it! Why weren’t we informed?”

“Seriously. This is a major health risk.”

“We should ask the clerks if these bras protect effectively against boob-punching.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t. They’re looking at us like they want to call the asylum.”

“Fair point. Let’s get out of here.”

Add two cups victoria's secret

Sadly, we left the double-padded bra behind, and were thus without protection from the boob-punchers.

[I would like to belatedly apologize to the staff of that Victoria's Secret Store. We were really losing control there. Sorry guys]

***

Here’s the end of the story. We calmed down. We had a coffee. We stifled our giggles. We went to H&M. We found reasonably-priced bras.

All of them were padded.

Now, the difference with Victoria’s Secret was that with the H&M bras, the padding was removable. So Future Wife and I just bought the bras we liked… and removed the padding.

silicone bra inserts

I have a mini-pile of these in my closet.

*sigh*

Why did I tell this story (other than the hilarity)?
It’s the best illustration of my continued frustrations with bra-shopping in the United States. For indeed, since the dawn of my bra-shopping days, I have searched for that holiest of holy grails: the affordable un-padded bra for the small-breasted woman. I have enlisted knights and pages and armies; I have scoured vast stretches of Malls and Specialty Stores; I have even taken to the internet, and still, the grail remains out of reach.

Unlike the Knights of old, I do not seek the Grail for glory alone. I need the grail. You see, I am a card-carrying member of the Association of Small-Breasted Women. I usually wear a cup-size A, although I can go as low as an AA, and as high as a B, depending on the store.

If you have no idea what any of those numbers mean: I wear the lowest or second-lowest bra size. I’ve played a couple male characters in theater, and when I do, all I have to do for my chest to virtually disappear is wear a sports bra.

Yep. I have small breasts.

OH NO!

Professor Chang Angry Community

VERY UPSET

OH THE PAIN! OH THE HORROR! OH THE SUFFER -

Okay, yeah, I can’t do this.

I realize that according to the beauty standard for women, I’m supposed to be upset about my bra size. Very upset.

[blah-blah, Horror of Not Being A "Real Woman" blah-blah, The Terrible Curse Of Men Not Being Attracted To You etc. etc.]

But you know what? Fuck that noise.

My breasts are fine. I happen to like them. They’re easy to deal with. I like the way they look – and honestly, I’m the one who has to live with them, so my opinion is the only one that really matters.

That’s not, by the way, to say that there’s anything wrong with having larger breasts (or any size breasts!). My acceptance of my size is not a put-down of other people’s breasts. Breasts are great! Big breasts are great! Small breasts are great! Medium breasts are great! Lopsided breasts are great! ALL BREASTS ARE GREAT. The configuration of adipose tissue on one’s chest has absolutely no relationship with a their worth or with their beauty.

Tyra Banks You Wanna Be On top ANTM GIF

Tyra Banks says: Don’t Judge People For Their Boobz

Unfortunately, there are few things I hate more than bra-shopping. Because, as previously mentioned, finding an unpadded bra in my size?

Holy-grail level of impossible.

I tried this summer. I wanted one bra. A single one. No padding. I went to five stores, including Target, Boston Store, H&M.

I didn’t find a single one.

Padded bras? Sure. SUPER-padded bras? Yep. Add-one-cup-size bras? Everywhere. Add-two-cup-size-bras? WALLS of them. Push-ups? Absolutely.

Hell, I even found bras with INFLATABLE padding (and I thought that was an urban legend).

But despite groping enough bras for the cops to put me in a harassment registry, the unpadded size A bra remained elusive. I couldn’t even find the push-up bras with removable inserts. And worst, I’d spent days bombarded with dozens of advertisements explaining how I could turn my “A” into a “C” or explaining how push-up bras would make me “sexy.”

Because obviously the only way to be sexy is to have a “conventional” breast size. Urgh. I say again: URRRGH.

I’ve derived a few conclusions from the lack of unpadded bras:

1. If you have small breasts, you can’t possibly want to LOOK like you have small breasts.

2. If you have small breasts, your bra needs to fix you.

3. A small breast size is an inconvenient problem to be fixed.

4. One cannot have small breasts and still be sexy.

Most of these stores claim that their lingerie will make women feel “sexy” and “empowered.”*

But I don’t feel empowered when I walk out of those stores. I don’t feel confident. At best, I feel mad. At worst I feel discouraged Or ashamed. Because the constant barrage of “push-ups” purporting to “fix” my chest is enough to make even the most confident girl feel like there’s something wrong with her.

{*Women are certainly not the only ones who wear lingerie – a fact that none of the stores I frequent seem to be aware of. But that’s a rant for a different day]

***

Here’s the thing: I’m not inherently opposed to push-up bras. I don’t personally like wearing them, but I don’t begrudge anyone who does. Some of my similarly-sized friends buy them because they find that push-ups provide more support, or are more comfortable. Some people like for their breasts to appear bigger/rounder/fuller. Some clothes fit better if you’re wearing a push-up. One friend explained that she likes wearing push-up bras when she’s on her period because her breasts are sore, and the padding helps mitigate the pain.

All of these things are valid preferences. I am not at all trying to set up a dichotomy between good “natural” bras and bad “push-up” bras (and if that sentiment comes across, TELL ME, because I will fix it). If you want to wear a push-up bra, you should be able to wear a push-up bra (and you should not have to feel ashamed of that choice).

But what I resent is the lack of choice. What I resent is that wearing a push-up has become an OBLIGATION. I can’t choose not to wear one, because they don’t bloody well exist.

[in point of fact, they DO exist, but I have to go to more expensive stores to find them. Yes, it's more expensive to buy a bra without padding than a bra with padding. Excuse me, I need to pick my brain up off the floor]

Clearly, the stores I frequent think that if a woman has small breasts, she must want to wear padded bras. They’re only providing me one option because what other option could I possibly want? Un-padded?

HA! WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THAT?

Merida shoot arrow gif brave

Next thing you know, you’ll be telling me some princesses would rather shoot arrows than get married. HAHAHAHAHAHA

This impossibility of finding an unpadded bra for small sizes is part and parcel of the our beauty standard – the same beauty standard that tells women there’s only one way to be beautiful. You must be thin and small-waisted and big-breasted, you must be white, or, if you can’t be white, you must be “exotic.” You must be tall, but not too tall, because if you’re too tall, you will emasculate men. You must be fit, but not muscled, because then you are too manly. Your hair must have volume and not too much curl. You need to pluck your hair here and shave it there, and there are no lines allowed on your face, because you don’t want to look old, do you?

Tyra Banks Angry Gif

Impossible Beauty Standard Make Tyra Banks Hulk ANGRY

And if your body does not conform, in some way, to this  impossible beauty standard, then you have an obligation to change it. You must wear spanx, shave your legs, wear black (because black is slimming. You must spend hours straightening (or curling) your hair. You must spend years on diets that may well ruin your health. You must spend hundreds of dollars on anti-aging products, and on bras that mold your breasts into the “perfect” size.

Whatever you do, don’t forget: You cannot sag. You cannot have lumps or bumps. You cannot have visible veins or scars. You cannot look like a fucking human being. You need to look PERFECT.

Healthy is the new skinny, Barbie as a real woman, Katie Halchishick

Kate Halchishick. What Barbie proportions look like on a real woman.

Listen, I love fashion. And I am no innocent when it comes to conforming to the beauty standard. I used to diet – I’ve even walked to the edge of an eating disorder. I shave my legs. I wear makeup. I use anti-aging products. I care way too much about which clothes make me look “skinny.”

I don’t think adhering to aspects of the beauty standard makes you a bad person or a bad feminist. But adhering to the beauty standard should be a CHOICE, not an obligation.

That’s the key. Clothes are not currently designed to fit the person who buys them. They are designed to make that woman fit into the beauty standard.

Underwire bras are supposed to be MOLDED to the shape of one’s breast. Instead, they now mold breasts into fitting an arbitrary standard of beauty and sexiness.

And if all clothes are designed to make women fit an arbitrary beauty standard, then there’s no choice at all.

Which is a problem, because one of the best ways to get rid of this ridiculous “objective” beauty standard is through the natural human diversity of appearances. But of course, if all clothes make you fit the beauty standard, then there will be no natural diversity of appearances, because everyone (AND ALL BOOBS) will look the same.

On one of my favorite shows, What Not to Wear(which has TONS of problems, but does a good job with body acceptance), the hosts have a great mantra: “If clothing doesn’t fit you, the problem is with the clothing, not with your body.”

(that was a total paraphrase, so don’t quote me)

Therefore, I say unto the bras of North America: y’all got problems.

What Not To Wear Stacy Clinton

Stacy and Clinton Disapprove of the Bras, Not of the People Wearing Them

***

Moreover, let us assume, for one second, that women are ONLY beautiful if they have larger breasts. It is a highly stupid assumption, but let us assume it, if only for the sake of argument.

So: women are only beautiful when they are large-breasted. Women are only attractive and sexy when they are large-breasted. Padded bras allow Unfortunate Small Breasted People like me to experience the joys of sexiness! Hurrah for padded bras!

But here’s the thing:

Being sexy is NOT the only reason I wear a bra.

I know.

Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson Mind Blown

*EXPLOSION*

Shocking, but true: A bra is not JUST an Instrument of Sexiness.

[On another note, I now want to create a line of musical instruments called "Instruments of Sexiness." There will be a lot of violas. Violas are very sexy]

The primary reason I buy – and wear – bras is not so that I look sexy/beautiful/attractive/whatever. And according to my bra-wearing friends, sexiness is not the primary reason they wear bras EITHER.

I wear a bra so that my chest stays still while I’m running around on campus. I wear a bra so my clothes fit semi-correctly. I wear a bra to provide a minimum of support for my breasts. I wear a bra to provide a second level of protection against accidentally flashing people.

A lot of my friends wear bras so that they can play sports. Some of them wear bras to help with back pain. Some wear bras to help with soreness.

There are tons of other reasons that people wear bras that are not directly related to enhancing their personal attractiveness.

Hell, on our epic Underwire Bra Shopping Expedition, my Future Wife almost didn’t buy her first underwire bra, because she thought it looked *sexy* and she didn’t WANT her bras to look sexy.

So yeah, people wear bras for other reasons than sexiness.

Again: Le shock.

The idea that women need – and want – to be sexy and attractive every second of every minute of every goddamn day needs to die in a fire.

I don’t need to be sexy every minute of every day. 90% of my bra-wearing time is spent in front of my computer, or in class, or cleaning my kitchen. Even assuming that people are only seduced by large breasts and that I, of course, want to seduce these people…

I’m not trying to seduce my fucking mop.

[Hell, I don't need to seduce it. I bought the damn thing, it's going to do it's job or I'll buy a NEW ONE.]

Ditto for my laptop: trust me, my computer  could care less if my breasts are twice as full as they are when un-bra-ed.

And same for most of my friends! My friends are lovely people. I think most of them can live with the heartbreak of seeing me wearing an unpadded bra (I mean, the bra is under my clothes, so it’s not like they’ve seen the bra full-stop. But you know what I mean).

Someday, the bra industry will realize that people wear bras for reasons other than sexiness, and it will be possible to buy a bra that is not sexy-fied to the maximum.

That will be a glorious day.

If only because I don’t want to send my mop the wrong messages.

[I mean, darling, you're a wonderful mop. Don't get me wrong. But I just don't feel that way about you]

***

I want to be super-clear that I’m not harping on individual bra-wearers who choose to wear push-up bras. Heck, I own a push-up bra. And I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be able to feel sexy while mopping, if that’s what they like. I like getting dressed up – in fact, I’m more likely to dress up if I’m staying home than if I’m going out (but I’m bizarre that way).

[Actually, ALL of my bras are push-ups (with one exception). I just removed the padding from three of them. The fourth has padding that cannot be removed by my skill]

What bothers me is the expectation that ALL bra-wearers wear bras to:

a) look sexy

and

b) enlarge their breasts (particularly we of the small-breasted variety)

And these two assumptions, which seem to govern the way bras are built and marketed, are NOT TRUE. Someone tell the fashion houses.

The problem with these two assumptions, moreover, is that it makes it nearly impossible for anyone – small-breasted, large-breasted, whatever – to get bras that actually WORK for them. Often bras are made to be sexy at the expense of other things, like comfort, fit, structure etc.

In spite of my complaints, I am extraordinarily privileged in terms of bras. I wear straight sizes, which means I can find bras that fit me (even if they are padded) at most stores. I can also find cheap bras in my size. Moreover, as a relatively small-breasted person, I can wear the vast majority of clothes- since most fashion is designed with a size D-or-under in mind.

If you do not fit these (very narrow) parameters – if you are not straight-sized, A-D-cup-sized; if your breasts are not symmetrical –  there are far more pitfalls in the world of bra shopping. Bras cost more, are harder to find, and often do not do their jobs (support). Others have written far more eloquently than I on this subject (I particularly like this post from Shapely Prose), but yeah: my problems are pretty small in comparison.

Bras are supposed to be items that help us. Support us. Fit our bodies. Now they’re just items that try to fit our bodies into the dominant paradigm.

Fuck One-Size-Fits-All-Beauty Standard, man. One size does NOT fit all, and Clothes are supposed to fit US.

I dream of a day when push-up bras of every size are next to un-padded bras of every size. When every bra-wearer can find affordable, comfortable garments that support their chest (or, in my case, lack thereof) properly. When every bra-wearer can decide for themselves what kind of bra makes them feel sexy, or healthy, or comfortable without issues of price or access. When people can own many types of bras – push-ups and unpadded bras and lace bras and leopard print and sport and extra-support.

Perhaps it’s not a big dream. But sometimes it seems like an impossible one.

Vonnie Seiyuki Chan beauty in all shapes and sizes

Image created by Vonnie Seiyuki Chan. I’m like, a third from the left.

I have been on this quest for my personal holy grail (a Bra of My Own).  And I do not think it will end soon.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there really IS a notorious boob-punching gang roaming around North America. Maybe that’s why we all need padding. THE BOOB PUNCHERS ARE COMING FOR ALL OF US!

Anyone here has bra-related quests/dreams of their own? We could team up and have a giant holy-grail team! Or we could have a giant anti-boob-punching-gang team. WE WILL DEFEAT THE BOOB-PUNCHERS!

Tyra Banks boobs gif

We can protect our breasts using the patented Tyra Banks method!

***

Notes:

* Future Wife and I are not yet married. We’re planning a fall wedding sometime in the next forty years or so. We’re not in a rush. We’d like a very long engagement. You are, of course, ALL INVITED.

** Interestingly, since I’ve returned to school in Canada, my friends have informed me of a couple places where I could probably find these holy-grail bras. They’re more expensive, admittedly, but they EXIST somewhere. My friends in the USA, on the other hand, were all “Yeah, you’re kind of screwed.”

*** Fun story about the usefulness (or not) of padded bras. The last costume I wore in a show was a dress with room for a very generous bosom. When I tried it on, there was a lot of… empty space, as it were. My director looked at me critically “What?” she said, waving her hands in front of my chest. “Are we going to do about this?”
Then she asked, looking guilty: “Have you considered… push-up bras?”
Me: “This is a push-up bra.”
Still the best moment of my theater career to date.
(I ended up taking all the padding I’d taken out of my OTHER push-up bras and stuffing them into my push-up. Not very comfortable, but it worked)
Oh, and hey, if you’re still not sure whether you should read this blog, feel free to read my new page: Objections/Praise for This Blog


27 Comments on “A Bra Of One’s Own”

  1. Liz says:

    Nordstroms. NORD. STROMS.

    They’re the only department store I know of that sells bras that cater to all tastes and sizes.

  2. whollyword says:

    For indeed, since the dawn of my bra-shopping days, I have searched for that holiest of holy grails: the affordable un-padded bra for the small-breasted woman.

    *fist-bump of solidarity*

    If you find it, please let me know. It used to be that I could find unpadded cotton underwires in the A/B range at Target, but I have been avoiding them since they donated a large chunk of change to a candidate running on an anti-marriage equality platform.

    The smallness of my breasts does not bother me. Nor does it bother The Partner, not that it is so much his business. (I have not sought the opinion of my mop.) I want a bra that doesn’t presume it knows what I want better than I do. Is that really so much to ask?

    • C.D. says:

      “I want a bra that doesn’t presume it knows what I want better than I do. Is that really so much to ask?”

      I want to write this in sparkly rhinestones on a T-shirt. SERIOUSLY. And I did not know that about Target. Massive Ewwws.
      Although to be fair, I didn’t find a single upadded bra in my size at Target this summer. So maybe my store just doesn’t carry them.

  3. Sheryl says:

    I wear a small-side -of-average size in a bra, and I have been so frustrated when I go shopping. All I want is a bra that a)has seamless cups(so I’m not ending up with welts on my breasts and b) is not padded/molded. Is that so hard?

    Apparently so. I don’t need a push-up bra, thankyouverymuch. The rare occasion I find one that fits my criteria, its white or beige. (I like a little variety in my undergarments.) Maybe black. Anyway, thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

  4. oneeyedoctopus says:

    Last time I was in Victoria’s Secret I honestly didn’t intend to buy anything but my sister insisted we should go there first because they have helpful attendants who’ll help you determine your size. I was trying on bras in the fitting rooms when said helpful attendant decided to show off their “new scent” to my sister. Within seconds my eyes were on fire. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Which is an unfortunate position to be in when half-naked. I came out of the stall crying and fled the store with my bewildered sister who I managed to offer no explanation other than, “I need to leave right now!”

  5. dawnofthenerds says:

    I tried on one of those double push up bras once. They work, that’s for sure, but unless you wore one all the time, they make such a difference that your clothes wouldn’t fit anymore.

  6. canbebitter says:

    In Aus and a DD (that was a shock!). And yet, I still find padded bras in my size! I MEAN SERIOUSLY.

  7. Angie unduplicated says:

    I’d love to send you the three bras I purchased online. They are elastic imports in a child’s size Large. Unfortunately, I’m not a child, I have big floppy old-lady tits, and I want a band which leaves my asthmatic chest room to breathe. Nobody in the bra business understands this, either.
    Bras are made for models and plastic mannequins. Designers apparently don’t understand anything else. This is world-class dumbass which would be excluded or fired in any industry except womenswear.

  8. Wow yes. Bra sizes, bra design- it all makes very little sense. I always assumed all women find it impossible to find a good bra.

    (And I’ve seen the “add 2 sizes” ones… I don’t get it. SO MUCH PADDING.)

  9. eileeny says:

    I have found ones I really like and that fit me well from a couple of places. What I then tend to do is find online retailers for the same brand and order online. I’ve found one company that has lots of sales and colours I like – La Senza. They have an outlet here in Victoria, and might be worth checking out.

    Herroom.com has lots of ones to look through, including the option to search subcategories for no padding (like this one, with fun colors, no padding, and lots of sizes [kind of see-through] http://www.herroom.com/claudette-2000ne-dessous-full-coverage-neon-unlined-bra.shtml)

    I love your posts, and this puts forth good ideas about dominant beauty standards. But really, we live in the age of the internet: my tumblr dash is full of Romney .gifs and tentacle porn, and bras are available in every possible permutation.

    • Gametime says:

      Okay, four things.

      First, I can’t speak from authority here since I don’t wear bras, but they seem like the sort of garment one would not want to purchase without trying on. My friends who DO wear bras tell me it’s often hard to find one that fits even when you know the proper measurements because, y’know, breasts are shaped differently.

      Second, shipping costs time and money that not everyone can afford. This is especially true if there’s a good chance you’d have to RETURN the bra because it doesn’t end up fitting or whatever.

      Third, even if you CAN afford the shipping costs, you shouldn’t have to. Bras are not some exotic specialty item. They are a basic and (in a lot of countries) necessity article of clothing. There is no reason department stores shouldn’t carry them in a variety of shapes and sizes, and complaining about the lack of stock is totally justifiable even if solutions to the problem exist. Hell, I could order all my food online if I really felt like it, but I somehow doubt anyone would give me shit if I complained about how there are no grocery stores in my area.

      Fourth, and most importantly, even if CD could solve the bra problem with minimal fuss, expense, or annoyance, it’s pretty douchey to be all “OH, THIS IS THE AGE OF THE INTERNET, GET WITH THE PROGRAM.” So, y’know, consider toning down the snide sense of superiority.

      • eileeny says:

        Right, I have a couple of points.

        First, reading comprehension: this would be why I specified that I went to the store first. To elaborate: I tried on about a dozen models and found two I liked. I bought them, and proceeded to buy more of the same models online when they went on sale.

        Shipping was free, and even in Canada took ten days. Returns were not an issue, as I knew I was ordering ones that would work.

        Third – no, bras are not an exotic specialty item. But finding ones that fit a preference set that is not within the narrow preference sets carried in most department stores is.

        I am all for examining and addressing prevalent beauty standards and why they suck. But, with the variety of tools available, such as lingerie stores and the internet, there is no reason not to have an excellent bra on while one does.

    • C.D. says:

      I love you, Chiomi, and if I wanted Romney GIFs (or tentacle porn), this would be useful (since both of those things are available EXCLUSIVELY online). But I don’t. I want a bra.

      A couple things:

      1. I have never found a bra with no padding that fits FULL STOP. So I can’t go online to find bras, because I don’t know what the size would even BE.
      2. Bras may be available in every permutation, but buying one online (especially not knowing my size) would involve me buying the bra and HOPING it would fit, and then possibly sending it back, getting a new bra etc. etc.
      And I am lazy.
      (also: poor)
      If other people can get their bras at a department store, I should be able to get a bra at the department store. I don’t think I’m not asking for that much.

      • eileeny says:

        I did some research for you! I now have ‘lingerie stores near mcgill’ indelibly in my search history. I found La Vie en Rose, which apparently has outlets all across Montreal as well as an online store where they have bras half price. They apparently have ‘lightly lined’ bras starting in 34B and ones with removeable padding starting in 34A. It might be worth trying. This is why I really love outlet stores: if they have one that works for you, you need never set foot in one ever again because you can order online. If they don’t, you can ask them to order things in from the online store for you to try.

  10. “The configuration of adipose tissue on one’s chest has absolutely no relationship with a their worth or with their beauty.” This may be the best line ever written in the history of the world. (or, maybe I’m biased bc of having had breast cancer at the ripe old age of 40, but still…) Loved this post. You couldn’t pay me to go into Victoria’s Secret, now or pre-cancer; no way, no how. I don’t need a store to tell me I’ll never measure up to womanly ideal of the 2-sizes-bigger pushup bra on a model whose implants are already causing her 92-pound frame to tip forward.

    • C.D. says:

      I mean, you COULD pay me to go into Victoria’s Secret, because it would have hilarious results (as demonstrated above). You couldn’t pay me to buy their products.

  11. mitukagome says:

    Yeah, but it’s kinda opposite for bigger sizes. I mean, obviously I don’t want a “add two sizes” bra when I’m already a DD, but basically all that I can find are the ones that are made out of silky super thin fabric (mostly the minimizer bras). Which is great, except if you’re the slightly bit chilly then everyone can see your nipples. Which is NOT great. I want a bra with substance, but no serious padding. And the only place where I can find that and have a bra that actually fits is Victoria’s Secret. Which is why I have so few bras because they’re a bajillion dollars.

    • C.D. says:

      That’s very fair! I hadn’t thought of the sturdiness issue re: larger breasts, so thanks for letting me know.

      I guess what I don’t understand is, why are all these relatively basic bras (no-padding, good-fit for small breasts, sturdiness, good-fit for large breasts) so damn EXPENSIVE? I don’t think we’re looking for the moon over here, but it’s honestly like the bra industry is allergic to providing variety.

      Different people want different things! Different people have different needs! Oy, Bra Industry!

      • mitukagome says:

        Exactly! Also, there is ONE type of bra that I can buy at VS. Only one will actually fit me. Bras really are the unicorn of clothing.

  12. girl says:

    This is an old post, but since I have very similar requirements for bras that you do, here is what I have found over many, many painful years of trying: Wacoal brand. I don’t know where it might be carried near to you (it’s normally available in departments stores like Macy’s), and it’s not exactly “cheap” (the bra I get there is ~$45), but they have many non-padded options with underwire (and some without). I used to cry in the dressing room when trying on bras but now I buy the same bra over and over again and it works under t-shirts and fancy stuff. I have a “non-standard” body, as the vast majority of people do, and Wacoal has really extensive sizing options.


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