I was 19 when I first started trying to figure out my correct bra size. Not long into my quest, I’d occasionally I’d have friends ask things like, “Why does it matter? Why can’t you be okay with the “sister size” thing, or something “close enough”?” As the search got more and more frustrating, I started to ask myself the same questions. Why wasn’t what I was wearing “good enough”? What made me so special that I had to have a very well-fitting bra? (how strange, to want to have clothes that fit well…)
But I was even more frustrated with not knowing how bra sizes worked, with squeezing into the same two 36DD bras that I’d had since I was 15, with wondering why nothing seemed to fit me. I had been seriously contemplating breast reduction surgery since I was 16. So I kept on looking and researching, not even trusting fitters, determined to figure out for myself what no one had taught me. I didn’t know why everything I tried seemed both too small and yet too loose, why bra sizes didn’t seem to go above DD, what the numbers and letters really meant. I researched, was introduced to Paul Taylor’s webcomic about a busty girl heroine, joined a livejournal community for smaller girls with larger busts, and tried on lots of bras – a task I had learned to loathe over the years.
And then I had my epiphany moment when I tried on a 30G bra at Nordstrom (no one had fitted me into it; I had measured myself and guessed through trial and error, then had it checked by a fitter). And I almost cried.
It didn’t hurt. It didn’t ride up or down. It didn’t flatten or squish me. It didn’t feel wrong. It had underwires, something I thought I could never wear. It was even… pretty.
I spent $80 on that Fantasie bra that day. I would’ve spent $300.
And then, in the weeks and months following, I did cry. Not so much for everything that didn’t work, but because I had found something that did. I wasn’t a freak. There were other people like me. I phased out my trial-and-error bras, the 34F’s that were closer but not quite there. I learned what a correctly-fitting bra should look and feel like.
And, the best thing of all, the thing that even now, three years later, I sometimes forget: the upper back pain disappeared. The lower back pain disappeared. The shoulder pain disappeared. I had lived with the pain and discomfort for so long that I had just accepted it as part of me. When it was gone, I felt so free I could’ve shouted and danced (I probably did). I only remember it now when I wear or try on a bra that isn’t my size or isn’t the right fit. It doesn’t take long to be reminded. But now, instead of accepting the pain, I know it’s the bra, and not me. Because there’s nothing wrong with me.
The main throwback to all those years of wearing poorly-fitting, sports-bra, “minimizer” bras is that I still slump, I still curl in my shoulders. It’s hard for me to remember to stand up straight and proud, hard for my body to remember to stop compensating for back pain.
So I turn back to humor to keep from berating myself for slouching – these two comic panels have always stood out to me for that:
Bikini power! 😀
My size has changed a bit since that period several years ago (I’ll post on bra fitting while going through weight fluctuation sometime in the future), but the principles remain the same. I’m not a freak. The clothes are the problem, not me. I don’t have to be in pain.
That’s what I want everyone to know about themselves.
Oh, and thanks, Paul Taylor. For helping me learn that.