100daysofgrievances #21 BIG BOOBS

Apologies in advance, this post is not going to enter into remotely salacious detail, nor is it going to be illustrated with X-rated images (despite what the title may have caused you to conjure up in those dark and dingy depths of your mind). As per previous posts, it promises to deliver nothing more than a monologue of miseries. Merry Christmas!

 

Like many women, I have been burdened with an above-average bra size. And I do mean burdened in the literal sense – the contents of my brassiere are not light. I can state this with conviction as I once took it upon myself to weigh them on the kitchen scales. I was proving a point to the BF. I can’t remember what exactly that point was now. I was probably remonstrating over the fact that I was forced to carry a heavy bag of shopping when I am constantly encumbered. Or maybe we were arguing over what weighed more: a bag of sugar or a boob… Either way, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that I won the argument (whatever it may have been).

 

What is it about being bestowed with ample appendages that makes people feel they are entitled to comment and question?  I wouldn’t dream of approaching someone with a neat little nose and asking them if they’d had surgery on it.  I wouldn’t express disbelief if someone with a shapely posterior stated that no, they had not indulged in implants. I wouldn’t ask someone their waist size or their weight, and I CERTAINLY wouldn’t attempt to guess at it.  I wouldn’t stare, and I wouldn’t yell things at them out of car windows.

 

I actually decided to write this rant as a reaction to an article that the BF sent to me:

http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/body/health/a27719/home-truths-big-boobs/

 

I have absolutely no idea what he was doing perusing the online pages of Cosmopolitan magazine, but perusing he was, and it clearly made him think of me (I do whinge a LOT about the subject). After reading it, I conceded that whilst I agreed with many of the points being made, I felt that I could elaborate upon some, and even add a choice few of my own…

 

The Cosmo columnist raises a valid issue relating to unfair bra pricing. This is something that incenses me. Big bras cost much more –  MUCH more if you want something that looks in any way decent and doesn’t feature inch-wide straps. Surely it’s not the amount of material being used that is the issue here: ‘larger-boned’ people don’t pay more for bigger sizes of regular clothes, do they? Perhaps with big bras, it is the advanced engineering that went into their construction that causes the unfair inflation in price? Or maybe it’s simply the fact that the retailers know that this is no luxury item so they have us over a barrel. Whilst on the subject of unfair pricing, what else is downright irritating is when celebrities endorse (and model) ranges for high street shops that clearly don’t sell the sizes they themselves wear – Kelly Brook for New Look, for example. Surely this is false advertising?

 

The point is jokingly made that house insurance would barely cover the contents of a plus-size underwear drawer. What is not mentioned is the sheer EFFORT one would have to go to in order to find adequate replacements. It is a lengthy and tedious process to find a well-fitting bra. I currently have one that fits the bill. ONE. I will admit that I descend into panic if I misplace it or if it is in the wash, and I wear it for far longer than is strictly hygienic.  I doubt I am alone in this behaviour.  I own about 17 of the things and will only very reluctantly bin them – they cost me a small fortune!  Alas, they all have their faults: That’s not my fave bra, that lace is too itchy. That’s not my fave bra, that underwire is too jaggy. That’s not my fave bra, that bra is too pointy. (I spent an enjoyable half hour looking at books for a friend’s baby yesterday). Very occasionally, I will dig out one of the 17 and manoeuvre myself into it, thinking ‘I’ve not worn this for a while’.  Big mistake.  There is always a reason that it was relegated to the back of the drawer and there is nothing but an endless day of excruciating discomfort ahead.

 

As I was saying, replacing a much-loved item of underwear is no mean feat or speedy process. My sister’s flat caught fire several years ago and upon speaking to her afterwards, one thing I remember clearly was the relief in her voice when she said “Yeah, we’ve lost pretty much everything, but at least I was wearing my bra!” (No lurching around Glasgow inadequately supported and covered in soot!)

 

Exercise (even walking) can be problematic – no nipping to the corner shop sans brassiere for us.  I can empathise completely with Wee Sis on this matter. The columnist talks about running and the probability of suffering black eyes as a result. For me, the tantamount truism of embarking on a run is the fact that SOMEONE is going to shout something about me inflicting such an injury upon myself. It’s not the first time I’ve heard it (or even the twentieth), it’s not original, and it’s not even remotely funny. I do have a most excellent sports bra that straps me down quite efficiently. The flipside to this is that I think it actually reduces lung capacity and after half an hour of sprinting (ok, I lie – after 45 seconds of slow jogging), I feel like an elephant is taking a nap on my chest.

 

So bra-shopping is expensive and tedious, and exercise is an activity undertaken at one’s own risk, but worst of all is the clothes-shopping expedition – as anyone who has ever experienced the mad panic resulting from getting thoroughly stuck in a dress whilst trying it on, will verify. Just because an item of clothing fits on the bottom half, it does not mean that you are going to be able to get that zip all the way up. That’s not to say you will stop hoping, or trying, of course!

 

Many fashions are simply not compatible with a top-heavy physique. I can glance round a shop and immediately disregard three quarters of the items on display (and this is before I’ve attempted to get them fastened, or vetoed any items due to sequin-embellishment or animal print). I know they will either be massively unflattering and make me look three dress sizes bigger than I actually am, or a seam will horizontally and unattractively bisect the bust, or the cut will ensure that the amount of cleavage on display is obscene. There was a time in the past (when I was about 19 and in denial: I still naively wore a nice wee quadri-boob inducing B-cup), when I would buy – and wear – a variety of such items. I still cringe at the photos.

 

Our columnist also covers the stresses of bikini shopping and the fact we try on about 500 and then end up buying a size 20 top and size 8 bottoms. Or, in my experience, 2 whole bikinis so as to make a bespoke set from the relevant ‘not to be sold separately’ parts. Once again, prejudicially pricy! What she failed to mention was the poor coverage afforded by such bikinis. Wearing a bikini when your cup brimmeth over is a stressful experience. It means constant tweaking and tightening, insufficient support and perilous perambulations between sunbed and pool (#firstworldproblems). If we indulge in a halterneck variety, the associated neck ache is likely to last until our next venture abroad. I always return from holiday looking like I’ve had a spray tan but forgotten to turn round halfway through. It’s so uncomfortable to lie facedown on a sunbed, that I often won’t even attempt it. Two weeks worth of front-only tan is not a good look. The only respite is on the beach where it is possible to dig a lovely boob-shaped hole into which to flop them (a life lesson bestowed upon me by my similarly endowed, wise and savvy sister).

 

I thought I was done with the topic of boob-related holidays hardships, but I have just thought of one more complaint: namely, The Line. Women of a certain cup size will be familiar with my plight; the line of sweat one acquires beneath the bust in sunny climes (or if we dare to hit the gym). One word: Yuck!

 

I know the tone thus far has been rather jolly (in a grumbling sense), but there is, alas, a somewhat darker side to this rant.  Perhaps I am being over-cautious, but even in the height of summer, I sometimes feel it necessary to don a shapeless cardigan if walking or boarding public transport alone at night (lest I look like I’m ‘asking for it’ with my abundant cleavage on display – even if just wearing a basic vest top – and to avoid any unwanted and discomfort-inducing attention).  Sadly, some men seem to think that women exist only to be objectified.  Only last year I was walking along Oxford Road (for those who don’t know Reading, it is one of the less-salubrious streets), when a man nudged his son of about 12, pointed at me and said loudly “look at the ti*s on that!”  I stopped and had a go at him about how he was setting a bad example and how women weren’t mere objects, and how his mother would be appalled etc. I wouldn’t usually bother, but I was utterly disgusted that he was educating an impressionable youngster in this deplorable manner.  I conceded defeat when I realised that both of them were fixated on my bouncing chest as I waved my arms about as I remonstrated. You live and learn.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom – working in a pub enables me to nip just a tiny little bit of this blatant sexism in the bud:

“Yes sir, I’m sorry but I do need to see your ID. I know you SAY you’re 47, but that comment you just made sounded to me like something a 16 year old might come out with…  I’ll accept driving licence or passport.”

“You were just admiring my necklace, you say?  That’s interesting.  Now I’ve covered it up, would you care to describe it to me?”

Etc.

It is a fact (one that I have repeated argued to the contrary with male barkeeps, just for the sheer fun of it), that the number of drinks I get bought on any shift is directly proportional to the inches of cleavage on display.  I don’t feel like I’m exploiting anyone: I need to save my money for big bras! Those small pleasures  – added to the fact that if I’m ever looking really rough, I know I can pull my top down a bit and rest assured that nobody is going to notice my dragged-through-a-hedge-backwards hair or bloodshot eyes –  make it all a bit more bearable.

 

I know this probably sounds like I’m trivialising my previous point regarding objectification, which, incidentally is not exclusive to big-busted ladies – and maybe I am – but I’ve come to the realisation that some things are not going to be changed any time soon (including this well-worn brassiere).

 

 

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