Like every woman, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my boobs.
Some days, I’m all for these bouncy bags of fun. They’re great for resting things on, like dinner plates and computers, and luckily (thanks to a few Dolly Doctor sealed sections) I’ve come to realise that all boobs are unique and great in their own swoopy, droopy and beautiful ways.
But other days, I’m not so complimentary. Clothes often look great on the hanger, but look bloated and bumpy once I slide my 8008135 in there. Also boobs are heavy. It’s like I’ve got two handbags strapped to the front of my chest, but the comparison stops there because at least with a handbag you can take out unwanted extra kilos at the drop of a hat. So let’s just say I have some very inconsistent feelings about my boobs.
My relationship with bras, on the other hand, has always been a one-way street to hates-ville. Bras suck. I don’t like them. If they were the physical embodiment of a person they’d be Donald Trump: obnoxious, intrusive and aggressively self-assured. If my breasts permitted it (they don’t) I would totally go without one. But because I’m verging on DD/E territory (and it pains me to say this), it’s actually more comfortable to shove those monumental pectorals into their boob prisons and get on with the day. I know, shock horror. A woman actually advocating bra wear? Please don’t take my feminist card away.
But even though I wear bras, it doesn’t mean I enjoy shopping for them. Honestly, I don’t know how any person would enjoy the process. It’s both hella confusing and expensive as fuck ($75 for one bra? Come on now). But maybe I’m missing out on some crazy comfortable bra out there that will solve all my boob woes. Maybe I’m just holding out for a hero that’ll make my boobs feel like they’re floating on tiny little lace clouds. Here’s hoping, at least.
It’s for this reason then that I decided to challenge myself. Fun fact about me: I’ve never gotten properly bra fitted before. I know, it all makes sense, doesn’t it? “She doesn’t like bras because she doesn’t have the right one!” I hear you, and you’re probably right. Really my only experience with bra fitting is that one scene from Sex and the City when Miranda goes to buy a black bra for her mother’s funeral and ends up crying in the arms of a stranger. I really hope this will be nothing like that, FYI.
PART ONE: Entering the store
Another fun fact about me: I really like to be left alone to shop. Very rarely do I want help from sales assistants, simply because I like making up my own mind about things without having to hear “you look great in that!” every time I step out in front of the communal shop mirror. (A plague on stores that insist on communal shop mirrors, seriously.)
But this time I had to swallow my pride and ask for help. Luckily for me, someone approached me within seconds of entering the store. “Hi, are you looking for anything in particular?” the sales assistant asks me. “Uh, yeah, I’m looking for a bra,” I say as we collectively stare at the giant wall of bras in front of us. I’ve learnt lesson number one: be more specific.
I talk her through my issues: big boobs, need support, but will happily avoid any push up/padding/water titties or the like. She guides me over to a section of the store with some pretty lace bras and some, dare I say, grandma-looking bras. She looks down at my chest and asks me what size the bra I’m wearing is. I tell her my size, but also reveal the ugly truth about my lack of knowledge of proper bra fitting – as in the only real bra shopping I’ve done is a few rounds at the Bonds outlet.
Without missing a beat she pulls out a few styles from the back of the rack (#biggirlproblems) and leads me towards the fitting rooms. There was no measuring, just a discerning glance at my chest… She’s definitely done this before.
PART TWO: The fitting room
I was immediately shocked by the sheer size of these fitting rooms. I assume the size is so another person could come in and it wouldn’t be squishy, but honestly, I could do a whole dance routine in there and still have room for my entire extended family to come watch.
The sales assistant – who has followed me in and is helpfully taking all the bras of their hangers and loosening the straps – tells me they’re having a sale on some bras, but unfortunately not on the ones I’m trying on. Just my luck.
She leaves so I can get changed.
PART THREE: The bras
I take off my wirey old t-shirt bra and it dawns on me that I’ve been missing a whole lot by avoiding the simple practice of stepping outside my comfort zone. These new bras are hella swish. I wrap the first bra around my waist and pull on the straps. It’s nice. It fits. Hallelujah.
My bra lady politely knocks on the door and asks if she can see. I oblige simply because letting a very kind Italian woman in her fifties poke around my chest region seems like the right thing to do in this situation. She mentions something about how it’s the right size because the wire is flat against the skin in between my boobs, and that the other side of the wire under my arm is hitting my ribs, and not my breast tissue, which is good.
I confide in my bra specialist that sometimes I opt for sports bras simply because it means I can squeeze my boobs down to a workable size, but by the end of the day I always feel like my boobs are inches away from crawling up my neck and strangling me. She politely nods and says, “That’s probably because you’ve got the wrong size,” and I awkwardly laugh until she leaves.
PART FOUR: More bras
We go through the motions: my bra lady brings in bra upon bra for me to try, I try all of them on, wince a few times at the price tags and actually start to like the look of a few of them. They’re not hideously ugly. They’re also not enormously uncomfortable. Like I could actually stand to wear this thing all day and not feel the need to scratch, hitch or unbuckle every now and again.
PART FIVE: The decision
I have two very nice bras in my hands: a Calvin Klein t-shirt bra (kinda exxy but pretty) and a Bendon one that’s comfy and soft (it’s on sale, too). I decide to get both. I gleefully walk out of the store with two bras and my dignity intact. I did it. It can be done. Bras are great. Expensive AF, but great. I no longer feel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and I’ve started to proudly lead with my chest. So if I knock someone out with these sparkly upholstered boobs you can just blame it on the new bras and my newfound sense of confidence, OK?
Illustration by Twylamae who also sells prints.