By Kathy Reschini Sweeney
Gentlemen - bear with me. This is an experience you need never endure. Unless, of course, you need a 'Bro' or a 'Mansierre' - depending on whether you prefer Cosmo Kramer or Frank Costanza's design.
Even on a good day, shopping for bras is a freak show that really strains logic. It ought to be simple. A number and a letter. Find a measuring tape, get the data, and choose a fabric and a color. If only.
Much like the elusive win at Bingo, finding the right combination of numbers and letters is a crapshoot in and of itself. Start with the fact that no two boobs are the same size. That's right, the girls are not identical twins. This is why you hear women refer to their boobs as 'Betty and Veronica' rather than 'the Boobsey Twins'. So right off the bat, the letters can be different. Start hacking away at either one and it's one of those logic puzzles where they just don't give you enough information to figure out whether the yellow car belongs in the blue garage.
Then we have the numbers. What a joke. Believe me when I tell you that although one would think numbers would provide a standard measure, one would be WRONG. A 36 at Victoria's Secret is not the same as a 36 at the Vanity Fair Outlet store. Needless to say, neither are the prices.
Most people cannot even agree where to measure. And so, as I learned a couple of years ago during my first tangle with breast cancer, finding a 'sports' bra in my size? It's a laugh riot.
The breast cancer surgical team will tell you that a sports bra is the best thing to wear after surgery. This makes perfect sense because the less bouncing around of the boob, the better. Better means less pain and faster healing. They say this as if sports bras of all sizes and shapes grow on some kind of retail boob tree. They do not.
Let's be honest - part of the problem is that they usually only make things for people who want to buy them and use them. My body has not been inclined to sports of any sanctioned type in decades. Basic economics: no demand for sportswear from fat people means no supply.
Forget regular retail stores - most don't go up to my size and the ones that do carry bras meant for entertainment or ornamentation, not squish factors. That's the other thing people don't say out loud about the sports bra. It's a squash device. That's how you keep the boobs still - you mush them in place - and gravity is a serious challenge - so the bigger the boob, the more necessary the squash.
Last time, I ended up with camisoles that had built-in shelf bras. But that was in the winter. Try even showing me a camisole in the summer and I will slap you silly. So the hunt began again. When I say I have tried on a hundred bras, believe it. Some cut off my oxygen supply. Some looked cute (if you can call something the size of a child's hammock cute) but had no support.
Finally I found something that will work - and here is the secret - find the right number and screw the letters. The ones I ended up with are advertised for all inclusive letters A-F. Can I tell you how hilarious that sounds? That's like asking all the members of the US Olympic track and field teams (men and women) to wear the same size shorts. An A person could use this bra as a full-body slingshot and an F person could wear it as a necklace - but neither could wear it as a bra. Lucky for me, I can.
So now I have four - 2 white, 1 cream and one black. Why the colors? Why not? They are all going to be ruined by the time I'm done with them any way. If they had red or pink, I would have chosen those. I was just delighted to finally find one that worked.