It was a normal day at elementary school and I was picking up my five year old from kindergarten. The head teacher, who I knew but not well, came over to chat with me. Had something gone wrong that day??
It turns out she had been complaining out loud to the other teachers at school that her bra was bothering her. Somehow, my quiet little girl happened to overhear the conversation and decided to interject.
“My mommy is a bra expert, why don’t you talk to her for help.”
So here she was, the head teacher, asking me for bra help. Because this is a topic everyone has issue with, others joined in and next thing you know, I’m surrounded by women — strangers a few minutes earlier — intimately discussing boobs and bras.
“UGH…you’ve probably been staring at my boobs for two years now. Judging!” one mom admitted.
And the questions… “Why do all bras hurt?” “Where do I go for a fitting?” “Why are bras so expensive?” “What do I do about my teenage daughter and her HUGE breasts?” They went on and on. And this is why I’m known around town as the “boob therapist.”
No matter how much I talk about boobs and bras, there are more questions. As I answer 10 women, another 100 come forward.
At that moment, I had to focus and answer questions rapid-fire style. I had them write down stores and websites with the best bra fitters and range of inventory. I told them how to speak to their young daughters who need not be shamed for having large breasts, but do require positive education regarding their boobs. We got through a load of questions when the head teacher addressed an important one.
“I hate bras. I will ONLY wear sports bras.”
She just nailed it on the head. This is one of my biggest problems as a bra fitter — nobody actually wants to wear a bra!
I am all for the athleisure trend (leggings are by far more comfortable than skinny jeans, after all). However, a sports bra is not a bra. They may be techie and fashionable, but sports bras do not provide lift, support and separation. Sports bras are for sports. They compress, wick away sweat and even have wire (sometimes), but anything that goes on over your head is not meant for everyday wear. (I’m sure those were invented by men!) And they are certainly not meant to be worn under work clothes.
Repeat after me: sports bras are for sports.
Grown women and millennials alike need to know that a bra is a support garment. It can be beautiful, cool, lightweight and have many technological features, but it must be functional. By this I mean it must separate your breasts, give you lift and make you look better in your clothing.
I know you all hate your bras. I hated mine, too. Those God-forsaken straps were always slipping, the back was always riding up and the wires were always digging in. That is, until I found bras that worked for me. It’s about fit. And it’s about taking the time to treat yourselves to new bras at least every six months. Breasts change more often than they should, and we have to change with them. Stop compressing them and stop minimizing them (breasts will not shrink with the help of a magical garment). Let them live and breathe in separate spaces (your cups). Let them remind us that we are women — strong, confident and sometimes a little lopsided (yes, all of us).
Jenny Altman will answer your bra questions @IAmJennyAltman