Ann: This month I asked a friend and fellow writer, Anne Connor, to join me in a discussion of an event that all women must experience, but possibly always dread: Bra Shopping. Not quite as bad as bathing suits, but let’s face it, much worse than shoes. The subject of this emotionally charged and demeaning ritual comes up often among my woman friends. Like my friend, Lisa, who told me that when she set out to purchase a sexy and good-quality bra, the sales “girl” (and I do mean girl; anyone born after 1985 is a girl) steered her towards the “foundation garment” bras. You know the ones. They look like padded straight jackets for your breasts, or as Lisa calls them, the “Ugly-ass, reinforced, ‘I’m never going to have sex again’” bras. That is when you know you have truly arrived at middle age.
Anne: “I despise that fat back thing,” Ann said to me after a fruitless afternoon of dreaded bra shopping. I knew without a second’s hesitation what she was talking about – you know, the rolls of flesh flanking the bottom of each shoulder blade created by the constricting elastic banding at the top and the bottom of the back of the bra? The fat-back thing…What’s up with that? That bothersome habit ranks high on the list of nasty shaping encounters that proliferate the bra shopping experience. There’s also underwire breast jab, hook closure dig, overflow breast fallout, even when you pick the right size, but picking the right size bra – well, that’s a whole other story!
Ann: Girlfriend, don’t EVEN get me started on the underwire jab!
I loved my neighbor’s story about bringing her 12-year-old daughter, Rachel, to buy her first bra. She wanted it to be a meaningful, mother-daughter, bonding experience. As they walked around the bra department, Mom would pick out a certain style and cheerfully exclaim to her daughter, “This one is pretty!” as the girl would blush, snatch it out of her mother’s hand and sulkily say, “Fine, mother. Whatever!” My neighbor dragged her into the mall photo booth to create a memento of the day, “It will be our ‘first bra shopping’ souvenir!” Mortified, the tween shhh’ed her and snarled, “Jeez Ma, can’t it just be ‘girls shopping day’ memento? You are SO embarrassing!” I guess the humiliation of the experience starts early.