My children have basically ruined my breasts. Once perky and full, they are now sad, deflated balloons found shriveled and embarrassed behind the couch a month after the party: they tried to remain afloat, but gravity and grubby hands got the best of them and finally brought them to their demise. All this to say I have absolutely no experience with today’s Oversharer’s plight. But I’m going to be really, really nice to her because I’m hoping she’ll share.
I am going to be a bridesmaid in August and I need a strapless bra for my dress fitting. One of the universal truths about strapless bras is the crucial nature of perfect sizing. If the bra is too big, you have a very elaborate belt with gel cushiony cutlets stuck to your belly button. If it’s small, you are a squished can of store bought biscuits under extreme pressure, oozing out the top awkwardly. That being said, I really did not like the idea of the enormous investment of a specialty bra purchase.
I wasn’t always a specialty store customer. I didn’t realize bras came above DD until the fifth month of my pregnancy. Until then I wore Grinch bras (3 sizes too small!). Most bra retailers assume that being top heavy is always correlated to a large rib cage. My diminutive frame is outside of the norm by at least four inches, which is only an acceptable margin of error when parallel parking. As a result, bras hurt, they rode, they dug. I viewed them as medieval torture implements comprised of thinly veiled barbed wire. Since finding the magical candy coated kingdom of appropriate sizing, they are substantially less awful contraptions. The most significant pain is directed towards my pocketbook, and for that reason I miss the big chain stores, with their shiny displays of affordable merchandise.
Every so often I’m in a mainstream lingerie store with my mom or my sister and some eager twenty-something tries to sell me a bra. I smile politely and advise that I am definitely outside of their size range but thank her for the generous offer. Occasionally, out of optimism or a lack of connection to reality, she will ask if I have tried their product lately – sizing might have fluctuated since I last attempted a purchase.
It was from that same sense of optimism or lack of connection with reality that I attempted to buy a bra at the mall today. This experience is best illustrated using the five stages of grief as a road map.
The first stage of grief is denial:
I held up the delicate piece of fabric with its graceful wires for inspection. This could totally work! I put it on verrrrrry carefully. The nice lady with a name tag taps on the door to inquire how things are going. “Great!” I gasp. I look down and observe the volcanic eruption threatening to explode from the lacy cups.
“Maybe I should ask her if the sizing is correct. My vision is poor. I probably read it wrong. Or it was mislabeled.”
“If I inhale a little bit and shimmy to the right it just might fit.”
“Any resemblance to actual Pillsbury products is purely coincidental.”
The second stage of grief is anger:
I could no longer pretend this web of daintiness would be structurally sound enough for the task at hand. I looked down at the offending article of clothing in rage, removing it brusquely and silently cursing the long line of curvy women from whom I descend. I hold them and their ample bosoms accountable for my current first world predicament.
“Why don’t they sell bigger bras here?”
“Why would that dumb lady with a name tag think this would ever fit? Her tape measure sucks!”
” Why do they hate girls with big boobs and little rib cages? We are people too!” (Perhaps I shall organize a rally of some kind. A bra burning. Ha!).
The third stage of grief is bargaining:
I wistfully gaze at the price tag, so much more reasonable than my specialty shop. It is so affordable I could totally justify a frappucino afterwards in celebration. If only….
“If only I had been born from a long line of marathon runners. Would an adoption at 30 counter genetics, miraculously by osmosis?”
“If only I had talked to my doctor about a breast reduction. I wonder what the wait list is like…”
“I would totally trade places with one of those girls that wishes she was bustier if given the opportunity.”
I sank into the fourth stage of grief which is depression:
I sadly and gently hang the magical bra of adorableness and affordability back on the door hook and wipe a tear from my eye. I am seriously feeling sorry for myself and it’s embarassing.
“I am going to be the only woman alive bankrupted by lingerie purchases.”
“That thing had memory foam in it. I can’t afford that in mattress format! I’m going to die never knowing how awesome memory foam is.”
“Most specialty store bras are ugly. This one had sparkles. I deserve to sparkle. Why can’t I sparkle like the other girls? I am not content with inner sparkle, I want to wear my sparkle on the outside!”
This brings us to the final phase: Acceptance.
I reluctantly resigned myself to the reality that this sparkly bra of memory foam and I were not to be. I handed it back to the lady with the name tag. I got back in my car and drove to the specialty store. I invested in a supportive if not slightly hideous foundation garment with the same enthusiasm as the time I procured a grown-up vacuum. It was sturdy, matronly and depressing.
I winced a little as the transaction went through, but I was secure in the knowledge that all would be safely contained on my sister’s wedding day. This consoled me enough to move past the grief associated with my bra shopping tale of woe, and finally heal.