Bra Shopping.

I'm getting too old to feel obligated to keep my mouth shut about crap like this, so you're going to hear my bra story.*

I have a new mantra:

I hate my dryer. I hate my dryer.

I've never had problems with bras and dryers before. Never. But this one has turned all my bra hooks into dimensional entry points for Creatures which Must Not Be Named But Have Too Many Ooky Tentacles and Consonants.

Take it as a measure of my stubbornness that it's taken wiping out all my hooked bras to make me change my ways and pull the bras out before they see the dryer.

  1. I don't buy expensive bras.**
  2. I don't buy clothes that need to be fussed over.**
  3. I don't use undergarments to spoil myself.**
  4. I have problems finding bras that fit.**
So yesterday, I put on my last hooked bra on its last hook and went bra shopping.

I promise I will not run my bras through the dryer anymore.

Here's the thing. My boobs are big. It's genetics. My Middle- and Eastern- European ancestors bred for flotation devices, not aerodynamics. My breasts were already too big before I had my daughter, and they didn't get any smaller after I breast-fed. I got over people staring at them years ago--had to; I hate tight necklines the way a cat hates a leash--but I've never gotten over the constant battle I have to keep from throwing my spine and neck out of whack. Or the fact that I can't wear properly-sized shirts, because I can't button them up. Or the fact that I can't wear bikinis, and boy, do they make a lot of cute bikinis right now. Or the fact that finding bras that fit involves tearing up my self-image and shoving it down the trash can.

Yes, take a look at all the cute bras on the shelves, take a good look, and wave goodbye, because you'll never see them again. Flowers? Lace? Colors? These are things for women with smaller breasts.

The rest of us wander the secret back rows of bras for hours, looking for anything--anything!--with our cup-size on it. For a culture that worships women with large breasts, I sure see a lot of ugly beige bras.

It's like the designers are saying, "Ha! You may have the big breasts, but I will ensure you feel like an unappealing slob, because I hate you! I hate you!"

Now, I could special-order bras, but that would mean I couldn't try them on before I got them. Please, please don't add a comment or send me an e-mail or even tell me to my face about how there are lots of places that have nice bras for women with large breasts. I want to be able to walk into a store, try on a cute bra, pick out a cute pair of matching panties, buy a set for less than $20, and go home without feeling like I'm in the Twilight Zone. I want to feel normal.

Of the fifty or so bras I found--among thousands--in my cup size, maybe fifteen were my band size as well. Of the six I tried on (covering all the styles available), one was even remotely comfortable. Because it's not enough that most big bras are bland as hell, the manufacturers have to add a "feminine" touch and put bits of razor-sharp lace across various areas that tend to dig in after a few hours. --If they could get away with installing thumbscrews or Iron Maidens***, they would.

I took home both of the bras in the "comfortable" model, one white, one (ooh, racy) black. I found one model with pastel green, purple, and black varieties, but 1) they'd put lace across the bottom band and 2) the cups were two layers of paper-thin mesh. Dryer or no dryer, those things wouldn't last a month. Those bras were there for cruelty's sake.

I screwed around at a book store after that, because I wasn't ready to face anybody yet, and if there's a shopping experience that'll make me feel better, it's wandering around a bookstore. My current yoga routine is so boring that I don't do it on a regular basis, so I stopped at the fitness section.

Brimming with self-pity, I flipped through book after book until I saw a women's yoga books had a whole chapter on yoga for bulimics. And another on surviving cancer (including breast cancer). On working through osteoporosis.

I quit whining then. I picked up a different women's yoga book, because it had exercises on strengthening the muscles that support the breasts. Actually, I got it because I couldn't flip through the first book without feeling depressed.

At home, I tried out the first set (not the breast exercises, did those later), and barely made it through, which is the perfect level for yoga. Too hard, and you're left shaking and wanting to puke; too easy, and you take it for granted.

Much like life.

*Mark this day. The heck with this keeping the mouth shut thing.
**I tried, but I'm a Midwesterner, and we're not supposed to do that. It's too decadent.
***Couldn't resist.