As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Mammary Fairy was generous when she visited me during puberty. Bra shopping has been a constant struggle, a trial-and-error process that has spanned nearly 15 years. Despite the myriad teen magazines available in the 90s, there weren’t a ton of comprehensive bra guides amidst the Trauamaramas and “Which Dawson’s Creek character are you?” quizzes.
This left me at the mercy of confused Victoria’s Secret employees armed with tape measures and specialty stores run by terrifying Eastern European women I was probably distantly related to. The confused college students employed by Victoria’s Secret were useless. Once they had assaulted me with their tape measures, they were at a loss for what to do. Maybe they were shocked that I had actually taken them up on their almost manic “Do you want a free bra fitting?” Maybe their training never included what to do on the off chance that someone actually said yes. Instead, I would ask for a bra recommendation and receive a blank stare before being offered a box of sample bras – none of which would ever fit right, a fact that mystified all the Victoria’s Secret employees.
The specialty stores weren’t much better. Middle-aged women from the Soviet Bloc were a little rougher with their measurements, a little brusquer as they threw open the curtains when I was in the middle of changing. They handed me giant bras, bras that could have been used for para-sailing. Bras that were primitive ancestors of the bullet bra. Truly hideous old woman bras.
Terrified but unwilling to spend $70 on something that looked like it could have served as a temporary shelter in the event of a sudden downpour, I asked if they had anything with straps less than three inches wide. “No,” the woman said (who was shorter than I am, but strong like bear). “With your size, this is all there is.”
I don’t remember how I escaped without buying anything. Eastern European bra saleswomen don’t take “no” for an answer. They just see it as a challenge. But somehow, I persevered and fled to the safety of my car.
My inability to find a decent bra culminated in my wearing push-up bras for years without realizing it. As far as I knew, they were sufficiently supportive and just happened to have a lot of padding. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I was happily donning push-up bras every day, but I grew up in Beverly Hills so I always thought that your boobs were supposed to be hiked up to your chin. It wasn’t until I was practically in college that I found a style of bra that worked for me – one that, miracle of miracles, didn’t have several inches of padding or straps as wide as a tank top.
In retrospect, I should have gone with the giant bras at the specialty store. I thought they were hideous, but I was so young and naïve.
Man, between this top and the bathmat skirt, I’m really questioning my life choices.
ps: Dear Jezebel commenter FauxPas, if you’re reading this, thanks for linking to me. For some reason Gawker hasn’t let me comment since the great hacking of 2011 (and has renamed me Surdeshna Hobbit, inexplicably). When I saw a bunch of readers coming from the article about Forever 21 suing a blogger, I had a moment of terror that maybe they were including me in the suit or something. Fortunately, they still don’t know the blog exists. But thanks for calling it hilarious – reading your comment and praise made my day.