The Wonder Bra is No Miracle for Me
My birthday comes and goes rather quickly every year with minimal celebration because I tell my friends I don’t age, but this year it is a little different. One of my girlfriends gives me a frilly pink bag with white and pink tissue paper falling out of it. It smells very light and fresh, like a spring day. I peek in the bag and notice a lot of white lace. I pull the garment out of the bag and am holding a beautiful white lace chemise with pink flowers and matching tap pants. I hold it up to my chest and peer at myself in the mirror. Can I ever wear something so special and sexy like this ever again? Lately all I wear are over sized t-shirts, boxers or sweats to bed.
This gorgeous gift makes me realize that I need to swap my exercise bras that I wear daily for something more curvy and feminine. I am finished with my surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I now need to feel like a woman and buy a real bra; however my left breast is still swollen.
The sports bras that I have been wearing don’t beckon sexiness. It’s now time to put them in the drawer and only wear them for my workouts. They have been my main support bra or my prop because I can’t find anything that feels good. Truth be told, I really haven’t spent the time trying to find something special to fit me.
I ask my radiologist, Dr. W for suggestions, since she is the expert on the boobies and the special supports for them. She tells me to go to the bra department at Nordstrom because they have specialized fitters with tape measures and they work with women who have had breast cancer surgery. She also advises me not purchase a bra with too much lace because it will rub in the incision area and to forget about the underwire too. The elastic on the bottom should touch the top of my ribs because if it lies right below my breast it too will rub in the incision area. Gosh, should I be looking to buy an 18-hour support bra for older ladies?
I psyche myself up and am excited about my new adventure to the department store. I make my way to the bra department and look around at all of the lace, silk, ruffles, flounce and embellishments. I suddenly feel apprehensive. I want to be a typical female in the bra section, but my story is not like any other average woman. They come in and ask for sexy bras for their husbands, boyfriends or even girlfriends for that matter. Many of them are looking for a black lace bra for a skin tight black sweater or a strapless bra for an evening cocktail or black-tie party. I just need a bra to make me feel and look natural. Do they sell the help-me-look-like-a-plain-Jane-ordinary-person bra here? I look around and try to pass for the average common woman. I come across bras hanging on the walls and bras displayed perfectly on round tables with a ruffle tablecloth. They all have signs on them that say they support, outline, shape and give cleavage. If I were in Victoria’s Secret, I wonder if the sales girl would point me in the direction of The Miracle Bra because that’s what I definitely need right now- at least some kind of miracle, anyway.
I have never been measured professionally for a bra and wonder if I am still a 34B. I see an older saleswoman who resembles Endora, Samantha Stevens, mother from the show Bewitched. Samantha’s mother Endora loathes mortals, and disapproves of Darrin, Samantha’s husband. Endora always refused to use Darrin’s name, variously calling him “Derwood,” “What’s-his-name,” “Darwin,” and “Dum-Dum.”
The saleswoman is heavily made up with bright cinnamon colored hair with carroty highlights and crimson lipstick. Her kohl eyeliner is heavy and her eyelashes are lengthy. They are definitely fake. She wears a crisp white shirt with a black pencil skirt and black high heels with a peep toe with sheer black hose. As she makes her rounds in the bra department she comes closer and closer to me. I dash for the Spanx display and pretend I’m looking for a control top piece that will suck in my extra fat I gained around my hips during my treatment. Endora is coming closer. I become more panic-stricken and turn to the table to the right and pretend that I am interested in a pink Warner’s bra. She has her right hand on her waist and her left hand is gripping a yellow tape measure. Her nails are polished a bright fire red color. She’s definitely a woman who wears OPI or Essie nail polish, not a Revlon girl. She stares at me and is sizing me up and down and all around. Oh no, I’m about to be accosted by the Bra Nazi. She slowly untangles the tape measure clutched in her hand and holds it firmly in both hands.
“Can I help you?” she says in a very slow and intimidating voice.
“Well…” I hesitate and stumble with my thoughts and words. “I think I am looking for a bra.”
“You think you are looking for a bra,” she repeats callously.
“Yes. I need a bra that fits and I’m not sure what size I am anymore. You see, I had breast cancer surgery and…” ‘Endora’ cuts me off.
“You know that most women wear the wrong size and aren’t properly fitted. For most women it’s an emotional issue.”
Emotional? Is she kidding? I’ll tell her about emotional and mental issues. I swallow hard and take a breath that seems so bottomless. “I used to be a 34B but for several months after my surgery I’ve only been wearing exercise bras and sometimes I don’t wear anything. My left breast is still a bit swollen and red from radiation. I’m not even sure if I should be purchasing a bra, but am wondering if I can find a bra without underwire and without lace because my radiologist said…..”
Oops. I spilled way too much information to Endora. Is she going to cast a spell on me to shut me up?
The yellow tape measure suddenly is around my chest. I see the black lines on the measuring tape and wonder if I should be sucking it in. Should I be measured in the dressing room without my T-shirt on? I guess she knows what she is doing.
“What size did you say you were wearing, dear?”
Dear. She called me, Dear. Maybe she likes me. Maybe I won’t be her “Derwin.” I was only hoping for at least a “Hey you” or “You, there!”
“Um…I used to be a 34B but I have been wearing my workout bras. They are mediums. I can’t wear anything too tight because it hurts.”
“You are a 34B!” she broadcasts to the entire bra department. Luckily there were only two customers in the bra department during her powerful announcement.
I look at her a little perplexed. “I’m not exactly even because I’m still swollen and red.”
‘Endora’ comes back with a plain neutral bra sans lace and underwire and a box with a falsie inside of it. I ignore the bra and stare at the clear chicken cutlet she takes out of the box. I take it from her and put it in my hand and squeeze it. “Is this like a stress ball?” I need to bring some levity into the dressing room I am about to enter. ‘Endora’ doesn’t smile.
“If you don’t feel comfortable wearing the 34B all the way around, you can insert the falsie into the right bra cup so you will look even when you wear tight sweaters, depending upon what bra you wear.”
I don’t want to give up my workout bras. They have been my crutch since I have been allowed to wear bras. I came here because I want to get back to normal and feel a bit sexy, but now I understand why ‘Endora’ said purchasing a bra can cause psychosomatic stress. My entire life has changed, including my breast. How can I wear a regular ordinary bra if I am so abnormal right now with my thoughts and my body?
“Dear, you are a lovely young woman and the same size you were before the cancer. You really are a 34B. I brought the falsie over so you can see what it looks like and to try it only if you are comfortable. You don’t have to use it or purchase it. I’m going to bring back three more bras for you to try on. They have a slight padded cup and will look perfect under sweaters. Try on the bra. I’m sure you fill out the bra beautifully.”
I realize ‘Endora’ is right. I need to believe in myself and I need to trade in my biker bra for a new feminine style. I take off my work out bra and put on the slightly padded bra and I put my T-shirt over it. I stare at myself in the mirror and notice that I have two curvy masses. It fits perfectly and it doesn’t itch, hurt, or rub.
ndora’ was very pleased and smiled at me when she came back to the fitting room with the other bras.
“I’ll take five of these. I think this one looks really good on me and it fits so well. Do you have three in neutral and two in black?”
Although the bras are ‘plain Jane’ bras and not Natori’s, they suit me just fine for the normal ordinary woman I want to become. I think I just moved from “Derwin” status to a bewitchingly beautiful broad.