It happened again. AGAIN. Emily and I walked into the Bra Smyth on Broadway and 77th to look for strapless bras for the wedding, and when I explained to the saleswoman that I was looking for a bra to go under a wedding gown she looked at Emily and said, “She’s the bride?”
I’m not even kidding. If I’m with a friend, the salesperson always assumes that my friend is the bride, even though I’m the one talking about BEING A BRIDE, and if I’m by myself, they assume I’m there on behalf of the bride. What is it about me that screams, “Wow, there’s no way anyone would want to marry HER”?! What is it?? I don’t understand. Is it my massive tattoos of naked dancing women that cover my arms and chest? Is it my shirt that says, “Game Over” beneath a stencil of a bride and groom? Am I just horrifyingly ugly?
But that is not what this post is about. It’s about boobs.
The setting: That very same bra shop.
Characters: The lovely Emily, myself, and a businesslike, sixty-something saleswoman with a Polish accent.
(click here for image source. This woman looks JUST like me, btw)
Here’s the story:
My wedding gown is strapless. Emily’s bridesmaid dress is also strapless. We both needed special bras, but they had to be special in dramatically different ways. Emily needed a bra that would contain and properly present her ridiculously generous bosom. I needed a bra that would make it appear as though I had gone through puberty. It was not the first time we’d gone bra shopping together.
The saleswoman came into the large dressing room with us and whipped out her tape measure. She began with me, since I’d showed my bride’s license and answered a series of questions that only a real bride would know the answers to. “Hmm…” she said. “B.” In college (for me, at least. I was an overachiever), as in bra sizes, this counts as a failure. But success goes in opposite directions on those spectrums. In any case, she was done with me in a second. She turned to Emily.
“Full,” she said. “Very, very full.” She sounded sort of pleased. As though Emily had done a good job, growing those breasts.
I definitely didn’t drink enough milk as a kid.
She brought back two corsets. I looked ridiculous in mine, and the saleswoman paid little attention to me. She was busy fussing with Emily, bringing in other options and working to arrange Emily’s breasts to their best advantage. I found myself against the wall, watching the proceedings.
“And if you’d like more cleavage,” the saleswoman was saying.
“Is that even possible?” I said. “I mean, isn’t that, like, the most cleavage ever?”
Emily cracked up and the woman smiled kindly and said, “You wish you had this?”
“No, no,” I said. “I’m fine.”
The woman bustled out and Emily and I stood there, looking in the huge mirror together, wearing our corseted strapless bras. We laughed at ourselves. To be perfectly honest, we both looked good. Our bodies had both developed at extremes, and yeah, hers was at the end that was going to attract a lot more appreciation from just about every guy in the world, but we both knew that wasn’t always a great thing. And my flatness isn’t always a bad thing. She said, “You can wear shirts without a bra! You can wear backless dresses!” It’s true. I can. I do. And I don’t even think about my breasts most of the time. I don’t think to worry about their size. For some reason, feeling bad about my breasts isn’t something I bother with. I have cute nipples. I look feminine. So whatever.
Until I’m reminded, over and over again, in the dressing room at the bra shop, of just how much I lack.
The saleswoman brought in different kinds of pads. Gel ones. Cloth ones. She stuck them in the bra. It didn’t make much difference, but it was clear that this was the direction to go in. Don’t want to be boobless for the wedding, after all. The guests will expect some breasts under that dress.
“You should know,” the saleswoman said, “It costs twelve dollars for the sewing.”
“And eighteen dollars for each pad.”
“Wait,” I said. “How much for the bra?”
“One-hundred and twenty,” she said apologetically.
“Wait,” I said. “So how much am I spending to not have any breasts?”
She laughed. “It’s cheaper than the surgery.”
I acknowledged that this was true. But I didn’t buy it. I ended up buying a much, much simpler and less expensive bra that looked like I had wrapped a piece of tan gauze around my chest, maybe in an effort to bind myself so that I could look more like a boy. I wouldn’t even have done that, except that I don’t think it’s an option not to wear a bra under my wedding gown.
The saleswoman continued on to fit Emily into a series of gorgeous, sexy bras, which really looked incredible on her. She jokingly suggested that Emily lend me some of her breasts.
And as we paid, I looked around at the displays; all of those matching sets of sweet, sexy lace, and thought about how I would never be able to wear any of them. And I felt really, genuinely bad in that moment.
“Maybe,” I said to Emily as we walked out, “This is why no one thinks I look like a bride. Maybe they expect a bride to have breasts.”
(click here for image source)
She burst out laughing, and then said in a mock deep voice, “We require the bride to be at least a C cup. Women below that are not permitted to marry.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Maybe they assume I’m twelve. And twelve-year-olds shouldn’t get married.”
Who knows. But on the bright side, at least I’ll save a lot of money I might have otherwise spent on cute little matching lingerie sets.
* * * * *
So how much should we care about breast size?
Un-roast: Today I want to love my breasts, out of defiance, but I’m not quite there yet. So I love my waist. The outline of it. The way my hips flair out.
Wei-Wei: “This is kinda gross, but I shaved my arms today. I love how smooooth they are after getting rid of lanugo. Okay. Sorry if I grossed everyone out here :S”
Cindy: “I am wearing a hula skirt over my work clothes today and a big hibiscus in my hair. I like flowers in my hair. wavy messy hair and flowers go good together! ”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CINDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Zoe: “unroast: is unable to be a physical one today. i’m proud of myself for getting a job interview though! fingers crossed — it’s today!”
How’d it go, Zoe?? Hope you feel great about it!
Maya: “I like how muscular my legs are. They don’t look like sticks, and my thighs are definitely thighs, if you know what I mean, but you can see the muscle definition. I realize I prefer that to stick legs. My legs do a lot for me and they show it.”