Ladies, please let’s have a frank discussion on a pressing issue (pun intended). Am I the only one here who hates having to wear bras? Now, don’t get me wrong — I am not a rebel and haven’t yet pledged my allegiance to the FTN (Free the Nipple) movement, even though I kinda agree with some (not all) of their mission statements. Let’s be real, wearing bras are hella discomforting. With the exceptions of a few instances when I rebelled against the system and went out in public braless (usually with an extra layer of jacket to conceal my ‘shame’), for the most part, I have been a law-abiding citizen.
The problem as I have subsumed, is due to the lack of uniformity in sizing, no thanks to the bra industry. A size 38D from Nordstrom rack could translate to a size 500Z from Victoria’s Secret. This lack of diligence with sizing on the part of the bra industry is one of the things that really steals my goat! And more so because I am one of those women who suffer from Boob Disappearing Syndrome (BDS); a PERIODical affliction that can make your boobs go from Triple H one day to a peanut’s poop the next. This affliction is real and I suspect is one of the reasons for many trust issues in relationships.
My embattled history with the bra is a long, convoluted one; tracing back to my teens when I refused to wear bras and my mother won’t have it. See, like most of you, I had started with the training wheels for bras (the top bras or what are now referred to as bralettes) and was perfectly fine with these. As time went on, my nipples started betraying me as they would perk up under these bralettes as if confessing to the whole world that they were held captive therein against their own will. Eventually, my mom heard their message loud and clear and then decided that I no longer could wear them, which resulted in her dragging me, against my own will, (in every sense of the word) to Somolu market in Lagos, Nigeria to get bras. It felt like arrested development because I wasn’t even given enough time to wean off these bralettes. These were also the days when colorful and lacy (and comfortable) bras were taboo, and your choices were limited to the gaudy, grandma-esque, life (and confidence)-sucking types where you had to choose from three color options (white, light brown, or black). As a result, there’s still that little child trapped inside of me who is dying to burst out, with their top bras on to boot.
With studies (albeit yet to be substantiated by the scientific community) also reporting that there is a correlation between the way women wear bras and developing breast cancer (allegedly due to a decrease in lymphatic circulation), it’s hard to know where my breasts fit in the grand scheme of things. Now, please note that correlation does not equate to causation and thus, drawing a conclusion that bra-wearing can cause breast cancer is almost as productive and veritable as saying watching TVs increase teenage pregnancy. Anything can correlate with anything, spuriously, but proving causation is an entirely different thing. Nonetheless, can we all agree that wearing bras feels like being recruited as a suicide bomber? Why else does it feel like dying when you put them on, and also that you are actually dying to remove them at the end of the day (poor taste of joke there, sorry).
Further, I’d also love to see a range of comfortable, matching, and affordable underwear (bra and panties) on sale too that would appease the penny-pincher in me. Currently, in my armoire, I have bras that have outlasted several of my relationships (and even my moments of sanity — which are very few and far in between), and while I would love to retire these oldies, I keep using them until they snap, so to speak. The other bras I have are reflective of some of the relationships in my life. They include:
- The seasonal ones (those who are there for you at a point and disappear afterward): These are the bra that works well, and then due to over-washing (usually the tumbling effects of the washing machine) or over-wearing, they snag and lose their grip on you.
- The toxic ones: These bras look good on the outside and feel good when you try them at the store (this is usually the case for me when I am at Victoria’s Secret). But on getting home or actually wearing them for the purpose for which they were purchased, they fail woefully. They either squeeze you to the point of death or stab you in the back (or front) with their iron clasps/hooks. Indeed, the ones you keep closest to your heart hurt you the most.
- The mirage: You’ve heard great things about these kinds and everyone thinks that you guys will hit it off. On the day you finally meet them, and with excitement of course, once they open their mouth (sorry, once you fit the bra on), you know that there’s no chance in HE-double hockey sticks that you guys will ever be compatible.
- The extra baggage: These are the ones that come with extra work. Once you become acquainted with them, you find yourself becoming Oprah and Phil to their dysfunctional friends. You develop extra love handles from having to carry such a heavy baggage around.
- The non-functional ones: These are the bras that just litter your closets, and you can’t remember the last time you actually ‘reached’ out to them. You can’t bring yourself to discard them because once you do, the nostalgia may be too overwhelming to bear. These are mostly the friends (sorry bras) that were there for you in the past, and so you equate nostalgia with functionality, and hence, practicability is lost on you too!
- The one bra that binds them all: This doesn’t exist, so move along!
“Before you conclude that you are having a bad day, first make sure that your bra is unhooked.” Sibyl, Mo
Finally, good bras don’t ever last long, especially their straps. This implication could have enormous consequences on your perception of self-worth at a particular time (t), holding some other factors constant. Specifically, I have noticed that for every 90-degree drop in bra straps (especially when visible to the public), my self-confidence drops to a plummeting level, and may likely not go back up until I can excuse myself to fix that global drop. And like the fake bra (friends) they are, the moment you raise them up, they just want to bring you down again — literally and figuratively. Now, I don’t know why someone as self-assured as me would be affected by such a bugaboo, but these moments are the very bane of my confidence in public (see, I am a professional somebody, so I am expected always to look the part) and these issues are real.
Which brings me to my actual lamentations: all I want in life, right now, is a bra that would be there for me — something to hold me tighter than most relationships I have in my life. And unlike some of my other relationships, I want a bra that won’t leave me hanging, so to speak. One that won’t stab me in the back or in the front but would last the seasons (peaks and valleys) of my BDS moments. Now, I am a believer in the axiom that a problem shared is a problem solved and what better platform is there to have such life-changing (OK, boob-changing) discourse than with my other comrades-in-battle?
So, I am asking (not for a friend) this from those of you who have gone ahead of people like:
- How do you consistently purchase a good bra (consistency is the operational word here)?
- What are the tips for buying good bras?
- What are people like me not getting right?
Please and thank you.