Booby Trap

My favourite bra broke last week and I am in mourning. I don’t mean that it got a bit too worn to be useable, frankly it’s been a bit shabby for some time now but it’s not like anyone else is seeing the state of it. No, I mean broke, because I am a woman of certain proportions, my bras contain engineering and parts and they broke. I can’t remember how long I’ve had that particular bra, but I remember it was bought some years ago along with several others, it’s brethren long since departed this earth (ok, send to the clothes recycling place). It wasn’t the prettiest (we’ll come to that) but it was the most comfortable. It wasn’t actually comfortable per se (we’ll come to that too) but it was the least uncomfortable of all my bras. Ah, old faithful “plain flesh coloured” (racist) I’ll miss you.

I remember a friend once telling me that she’d been to Primark. Didn’t really see anything but picked up a handful of cute bras anyway. Oh, how I long to be able to skip into Primark and pick up a handful of cute bras! My bra shopping usually involves a quantity surveyor, a structural engineer and at least 2 stout ladies called Moira.

Bra shopping for the larger-busted lady also can’t just be done in any old shop, no, we get special sections of shops, even special shops to cater for our needs. We also need to take out small loans or sell non-essential organs if we want to purchase anything. Apparently, all that extra fabric and scaffolding is expensive. I have seen myself easily spend over £100 on just a few bras. I mean, it wasn’t easy, it was devastating but there’s no other option. The Scottish Government has subsidised menstrual products, recognising the additional costs that girls and women face and that this is unaffordable for some, I think the next campaign should be bras. First the “Tampon Tax” is abolished, next the “Big Boob Bonus” or the “Supersized Bra Subsidy“. I mourning the passing of bras because it means I’ll have to endure an expensive shopping trip, an often fruitless search for something comfortable, affordable and not resembling 1940s “foundation garments”.

Maybe it’s like curly hair. People with straight hair – and mine is about the straightest hair in the world – often dream of mounds of luscious curly hair. People born with curly hair will tell us that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be – the frizz, the products required to maintain it, always struggling to keep it under control. We say, yeah, but it looks so good! Similarly, many smaller-boobed girls would kill for a bigger bust, or at least spend a fortune to get one artificially. Let me tell you, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Back problems, getting in the way of everyday activities, some sports nigh on impossible, clothes not fitting, swimming costumes impossible to find, suffering in the heat and the requirement for giant, expensive bras.

But they look so good! Well the bras don’t, most are massive swathes of dull looking cloth that may look ok on the size 8 models but when you delve to the back of the rack to pick out the G cup version you emerge with something akin to a hammock or an army parachute. With a tiny bow in the middle to make us feel pretty. Thanks.

Nor are they comfortable. All those wires and triple/quadruple clasps. Oh yes! Guys, if you thought undoing a normal bra was hard, try 4 SETS OF HOOKS! If you do manage, you’ll be so worn you’ll need a wee nap before proceeding. Thankfully the bra can double as a sleeping bag so you’re all sorted. They dig in, they constrict, they poke and prod when we dare to move but we don’t have the luxury of just going without cos that would be even more unbearable. As with many things in life, women just put up with pain, discomfort, inconvenience and expense cos we’re used to it, that’s just the way things are for us.

They look good? Yes, we get attention. 99% of that attention is unwanted. I could do a whole other piece on the unwanted attention, how I have spent most of my life trying to hide myself and the psychological impact of that, but I’ll either save that for another time or should possibly take it to a therapist. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Anyway, solutions? Well after my recent loss and with my bra collection dwindling and consisting of now mostly actually uncomfortable and realistically unwearable numbers, I took a different direction and ordered a bra from Molke. Women-led, Scottish-based, ethical, body positive, living-wage-paying tick, tick, tick, tick. They are relatively expensive, but I mind less when my hard-earned money is going to a business like that, and….the bras are funky and comfortable!!!! Oh my word! No wires, no array of hooks, just beautiful comfortable, supportive fabric. I ordered one as a test, tried it on and immediately ordered 2 more. I may never buy a normal bra again. Perhaps old faithful being laid to rest is a blessing in disguise after all…

My new Molke bras

Coincidentally, I’ve just started listening to The Allusionist podcast, all about language. This episode delves into the history of the word “bra” as well as the history of the garment itself.

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