My bras don't fit
My boobs taught me an important lesson in patience
There’s been a lot of talk, including from me, about how we want to re-enter the world when this enforced collective pause is over. Some people are thinking big, like this piece that calls on us to work together to become responsible capitalists. On a slightly smaller scale, I went looking for answers in my bra drawer.
When I open my bra drawer, I stare down at a sea of wasted money and bad decisions. It’s full of ugly bras that don’t fit.
Bras and I have a difficult relationship and I gave up on trying to own aesthetically pleasing bras a long time ago. It’s fine: no one sees my bras anyway and anyone who does usually removes them pretty quickly. Although, that could be because my bras are so damn ugly. But my bras need to fit. As it’s known that people who dress well get their clothes tailored, it’s also true that clothes look a lot better with well-fitting underwear worn underneath them. I know that I’m not wearing real clothes for a while yet, but my younger self had higher hopes for my thirties outfit-life than this.
I won’t go into why so few bras fit me: it sounds like a humble brag coupled with saggy tits if I try to describe it. When I say: “It’s worse than trying to find jeans that fit,” people tend to get it. But, this isn’t a ‘woe is me for having funny-shaped boobs’ story: some people were bullied at school for being flat-chested, or others have had breast surgery. This isn’t about my boobs at all, really —we all have something that we struggle to fit into.
We all have something that seems harder for us to fit into than it does for everyone else. My friend has flat and wide feet and so can’t wear converse, or a lot of high heels. Meanwhile, I can wear really high heels for hours on end. Some people fall drunkenly into bed with somebody at university and go on to live happily ever after, while others who want to find love, have to sit through date after date, staring into their drink and trying to think what to say next as any question they ask is returned with a one-word answer. Or maybe my bras are like the office and you’re like my boobs, and you’re just struggling to fit into the confines of corporate life.
One day, we realise that we’re not the problem: plenty of us don’t fit into society’s constraints. There’s a reason non-underwired bras are becomingly increasingly in fashion and throughout history, women’s fashion has progressed alongside women’s desire for freedom. Although, as far as I’m aware, no non-underwired bras that are currently on sale fit me.
When it comes to my bra size, the great irony is I’m not alone. My boob shape and size isn’t actually that special at all. The few bras and sizes I can fit into are always, always sold out. At a department store, they told me that my size was the first to go and they didn’t understand why the powers that be didn’t clock this and therefore preemptively order more in. Well, quite.
On a side note: considering how many startups there are out there that solve gloriously pointless problems...WHY someone hasn’t solved the bra problem is beyond me. Whenever I see an advert for a new bra company, I head straight to their website’s size guide page, whip out my tape measure and awkwardly try to measure my own boobs, refer back to the size guide and see that the brand is… not for me.
Occasionally, I find a bra that fits well enough and so I buy a few of them. I then avoid the painful process of finding new bras for as long as I can, which is often years. But eventually, the time comes, that my bras are so old that they give and slip down and they’re so uncomfortable that I have to buy new ones. That time came shortly before lockdown.
I chose to order bras online this time. I ordered a load and when they arrived I kept some and sent some back. I think that I knew, deep down, that the ones that I kept didn’t work. Like my last relationship, I stuck with them because I really wanted them to work —they looked good from certain angles and they worked in so many ways. But my boobs don’t lie... These new bras were giving me the four boob effect and no one wants the four boob effect.
Pre-lockdown, as a work-from-home freelancer, I only got properly dressed a few times a week, so it was easy to ignore my ill-fitting bras. I’d wear my new bras under baggy winter jumpers, but constantly look down to check they looked ok and try to subtly readjust myself to pop the boobs back in the bra. I told myself all sorts of lies to deny the expensive mistake I’d made: “oh maybe it’s just where I’m at with my cycle la di da.”
And then lockdown happened and it became even easier to ignore the problem. If I do wear a bra these days, it’s my yoga bra, which I frequently wear with the optimism that I may burst into yoga poses at random points in the day.
In lockdown, I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, but one of them is how much latent stress not having bras that actually fit causes me on a day to day basis. So, I faced my fears and opened my bra drawer and in preparation for the new world, I’ve been trying on my bras, one at a time and wearing them around the house for a couple of hours.
It hasn’t gone well. They all, apart from one, give me the four boob effect.
We’re taught not to give up on things, that we must persevere and quitting is seen as an act of great failure. It’s especially hard to admit defeat when we’ve invested so much in something. In my case with my bras, I wasted money. In other scenarios, it may be time that we’ve wasted. But it’s ok. Sometimes we need to feel the pain of the thing we’ve wasted to learn from our mistakes. I now know that I should wear bras around the house a bit before deciding if I’ll keep them and to not lie to myself out of desperation that they fit when they don’t.
I can’t just have one bra that fits. I’ve ordered another bra from the same brand which was the one bra that did fit (it was the last one in stock). I’m going to be patient as I slowly rebuild my bra drawer. I’m not quite ready to throw out the almost new, hardly worn bras. For now, I’m (slowly) moving them to a separate drawer. I’m not alone in having a problem hiding away in a bra drawer: something that we know doesn’t fit us, but we’re scared to face. The problem isn’t always us, there will something that works for us —it may just take us a little longer to find it than it does for other people.
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