(For Part I, click here.)
When I looked in the mirror the other morning, what do you suppose I said to myself? Was it “Hello, sexy! All the running is doing you good. You’re looking mighty fine today”?
Sadly, no, that is not what I said to myself. That’s what I would like to say to myself. Psychologists these days go on and on about positive body image and healthy self-esteems, building yourself up through positive affirmations… I’ve really given the matter a lot of thought.
But I didn’t say any positive affirmations to my mirror the other day. On the day my 38DD appeared to be loose, I said some very naughty words followed by, “This cannot be happening! I just got this! It was too tight! It cost a fortune! Why did I take up running anyway?!”
Returning to Lane Bryant like an abusive relationship I just couldn’t tear myself away from, I got measured again.
“I’m showing you at precisely a 36DDD,” said the shop girl. Such conviction! Precisely that size and no other! Not between sizes anymore, praise the Lord!
“Triple D? That sounds like an impossible size to find!” I said.
“Well, you for sure won’t find it here,” said the shop girl, turning to leave the fitting room as though I no longer interested her. “Our smallest size is a 38.”
Oh my God! Ten years we had together! Sure, there were ups and downs, but we had had a pretty good thing. I couldn’t believe Lane Bryant was breaking up with me!
Now, I would have to find a new store. I would have to go shopping in places I had never shopped before…
I could change! I could gain back all that weight I’d lost! Don’t do this to me, Lane Bryant! Let me stay at the plus size store! I’m so bad at shopping! I don’t even know which stores are likely to carry bras! Especially a bra with so many letters in it!
In the only other bra store I could think of, Victoria’s Secret, I wandered the aisles like a soul in purgatory, lost among bras made of too much lace and not enough elastic. People joke about how Victoria doesn’t have many Secrets left, but she still has one: namely, the secret to wearing bras that look like that because, obviously, wearing it like a bra could never actually work.
I was mystified. Where were the bras with the reinforced backs and padded straps and extra wide bands? Why should I care if my bra is sexy? The only man who ever gets to see it is allowed to see me without it, and I'll generously give you three whole guesses as to which view he prefers.
When the shop girl approached me, I worried she might ask me what the Secret is, like it’s a closely guarded password. I wouldn’t know the Secret and wouldn’t be allowed to shop there. Instead, she only asked, “Can I help you?”
“Lane Bryant kicked me out because I lost weight,” I said.
“Congratulations!” she said, more brightly than I felt. “What sort of style are you looking for?”
“A supportive one,” I said.
She stared at me, smile slipping, as if awaiting more. There wasn’t more. “Okay,” she said finally. “And what size do you wear?”
I told her. She pulled a few samples out of a labeled drawer and steered me toward a fitting room. Grabbing a marker for the dry erase board on the door, she said, “And can I have your name?”
I thought, briefly, about making something up, but it seemed ridiculous just then to lie to someone who already knew my bra size, so I told the truth. “It’s actually Victoria.”
We stared at each other for a long beat.
“The humor of this has not escaped me,” I said.
“Okay, then,” she said, writing it down. “I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes.”
Alone in the fitting room, I looked at the bras she had set out for me, all shear lace and anorexic cotton straps. It looked like if I pulled one taught it would snap into dozens of wispy ephemeral pieces like a flash frozen daisy. I was sure it didn’t stand a chance against the gravity of my situation.
Trying them all on only proved me right. “How are we doing?” the shop girl asked, knocking on my door.
“Are you sure these are all the same size?” I asked.
Back in my own clothes already, I opened the door to show her the offending bras. “I’m falling out the top of this one but the band fits well. The band is too small on this one, but the cups are the right size. And this one is the right size but the underwire is trying to stab my lungs.”
“Oh, it’s normal for all of our bra styles to fit differently depending on your body type. You’ll just have to try on everything in your size to find the style that fits you best.”
Hmm, yes, trying on different styles to see what fits, I thought. I’ve heard of this before… what was it called? Oh, yes: Sizes.
“Are you sure that’s the right size for you?” the shop girl asked. “When was the last time you were measured?”
“About ten minutes ago, at Lane Bryant.”
Her face flickered between emotions. I caught her sneer before she got it under control. “Well, different stores measure these things differently,” she said, thus explaining why the women’s underwear industry has a standard sizing system in place to begin with. (I’m so glad we cleared that up.) “Why don’t I just measure you again?”
I sighed, but relented.
“Well,” she said, clucking her tongue. “It looks to me like you could wear either a 36 or a 38.”
“If there’s no such thing as a 37, we’re done here,” I said.
“No, that’s not a thing,” she replied, in an eerie echo of the Lane Bryant shop girl six months before.
“Thanks for your help,” I said. “I can see myself out.”
Keep your secrets, then, I thought. Some things are not worth knowing.