I got my first bra when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I certainly didn’t need it, but all my friends had one, so my sympathetic mom drove me to JC Pennys and helped me pick out a training bra.
My freshman year of high school, when I was living with my father full-time, bra shopping got a bit more complicated. My dad would stare cluelessly into his wallet trying to determine how much a bra really cost and whether or not I truly needed more than one. I think he was trying to figure out if I was scamming him. I probably was. Eventually, he’d pull out a 20 and drop me off at Target.
Thankfully, a friend’s mom realized that the bra I was wearing and the bra I was needing were two different things. She promptly packed me in the car and drove me to a boutique that specialized in nothing but sensible bras.
This began my love affair with bra fittings.
If you’ve never had one done, let me assure you, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. A little old lady with bluish grey hair and a tape measure around her neck takes you into a fitting room. At that point, you pop off your shirt and stand there in your current ill-fitting bra as she measures around your torso. She then makes a pronouncement like “36B!” and disappears in a cloud of smoke, while you stand there and shiver because you’re too lazy to put your shirt back on.
Four minutes later she returns with 5 or 6 styles that may suit you and you begin trying them on one by one. With each new bra, she lifts and tugs and adjusts straps and then proclaims, “Yes!” or “No.”
Eventually, you leave the store with two modest bras, one in tan and one in black because 1) they’re so expensive that’s all you can afford and 2) they don’t sell anything sexy.
For the past 11 months, I have worn nothing but constricting, compressing and depressing sports bras. That’s one of the side effects of surgery and reconstruction. Sports bras are essential during the healing process, but then thanks to reconstruction, you still haven’t settled into a size that will stick, so there’s no point in paying for the real deal.
This weekend was my triumphant return to the world of bra fittings.
I’m 6 weeks out of surgery and have finally been given the green light to wear a real (non-underwire) bra.
I stood nervously in the fitting room in my faded and fraying sports bra as the saleswoman wrapped her tape measure around my chest. “34C!” she proclaimed.
Moments later I was trying on the first of three possible bras. I modestly turned my back to the saleswoman and the mirror. Not because I’m actually modest, but because I didn’t want to freak her out with all of the scars and bruising still on my breasts.
I slowly turned around and looked at myself in the mirror. I nearly cried. It fit. It looked pre-cancery. I never thought I’d see this day again.
I’ve been really nervous throughout this recovery process because my breasts don’t look normal to me. The side they lifted is fine, but much smaller than my former D or DD size. The mastectomy side that now has an implant is shaped differently than a natural breast. It hangs oddly and is a little smaller. All the while I’ve been healing I’ve also been mentally preparing myself for more surgery.
Being able to buy a bra and put it on and feel whole again is priceless. It’s also way easier on my family than undergoing another round of post-surgical downtime.
I ended up buying two bras this weekend. One tan and one black. And then I called my husband and told him the good news. And then I went back and bought two more.
I hope your weekend was as fulfilling.