I never really understood that nickname for cleavage, but if I had a nickel for every nickname I’ve heard about my girls, Wilma and Betty, I’d have a couple extra Andrew Jackson’s in my wallet. Yes, I coined them Wilma and Betty. This happened at some point in high school, and I don’t remember why but the names have stayed with me ever since. I developed at a very early age. I was always the tallest girl in my class and I feel like I never budded – I just blossomed overnight. I don’t recall ever wearing a training bra – there was no training to be had. I do recall that time in the dressing room with my mom trying on bras for the first time and I was not a happy camper. I loved playing sports and I was crushed thinking I was going to have to wear this contraption to keep me from knocking everyone’s eye out, including my own. Undergarments in the late 70s and early 80s were nowhere near as advanced as they are today. There weren’t endless options of sports bras on the market until the 90s. Therefore, gym and game time was always an adventure. Some highlights:
- My bra strap breaking while running sprints at the track and having to excuse myself from gym class.
- Being greeted by a male classmate after a basketball game as he came by to check my face and saying he wanted to see if I had black eyes.
- Another male classmate hiding behind a door then jumping out in front of me to squeeze my breasts like they were door knobs. In turn, I perfected my knee reflex kick. He ended up in the nurse’s office.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer the summer I turned 24. Thankfully they caught it early and she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy. She did however get a partial mastectomy, and chose not to have reconstructive breast surgery. It just wasn’t a popular procedure to do in the mid-90s, and at her age she didn’t feel it necessary to pursue. During this ordeal I became more reflective about my own breasts and what they meant to me, and unfortunately what they meant to other people. Knowing I had been identified as the girl with the large chest since the 5th grade I knew there had been a value put on my breast. Then here I am confronted with my mom who is now lopsided with one breast, which made me ponder what if I too one day was faced with the need to remove Wilma and/or Betty from their home. What kind of woman would I be without them? I believe that is the question all women with a breast cancer diagnosis ask themselves.
I understand being well endowed and built like Barbie has its advantages. People pay big bucks for enhancements. We are a culture obsessed with size:
- Supersizing meals
- Marketing campaigns convincing you that bigger is better
- The number on clothing tags being contradictory to the bigger is better mentality
- Plastic surgeons becoming wealthy based on breast and butt enhancement procedures
- The stereotype that big hands, big feet dictates penis size
I know I should embrace what has been given to me, but having to brace myself in order to move comfortably through my day can be exhausting. It’s funny how you cannot spell ’embrace’ or ‘brace’ without b-r-a. It’s the bra that takes it to a whole new level. I learned at a recent fitting at the specialty store Intimacy more about bra structure especially for women of a heftier size. I told the bra specialist that I preferred a smooth silhouette and was not a fan of the lacey details showing through your clothing. I didn’t like the seam that goes across the nipple/areola that also shows through. She informed me that there is a purpose behind bra designs with seams. Basically she was telling me: get used to your new silhouette kid! These bras are cut and sewn, which provides a special structure for extra support. The seams of the bra allow for precise shaping of the bra and restrict the amount of the stretching the bra can do. While seamless bras may look better under certain clothing, bras with seams often last longer and sometimes offer better long-term support than seamless ones.
Almost 85% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra. If you are a female reading this post, chances are you are one of those women. If you are a male who read through this entire post, you are more than likely checking out a multitude of women wearing the wrong sized bra. Needless-to-say check out this guidance from bra specialist and Intimacy founder Susan Nethero. Apparently, we all can use the support.