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A Bra Editorial: Start with the (Real) Woman in the Mirror

Chai is the owner of Magaluna, an online lingerie store that curates pieces reflecting the sensibilities of the modern woman and places a special emphasis on discovering new talent. Magaluna is also a community of empowered women celebrating femininity and all the trials and tribulations that make us who we are.  Magaluna launches in Spring 2013 but the community is active on Facebook.


I remember the first time I got intimate with my ex-husband, then a young man I had been flirting with for a couple weeks. I was wearing a pair of gray yoga pants and a tight-fitted pink tank top. Boosting my cleavage was a purple Victoria’s Secret push-up balconette bra that gave me an extra cup size… plus a set of gel pads that added even greater volume.

I’ll never forget his face after he unhooked my bra. I never asked him what went through his head as an expression of deep confusion took over. It’s the face you’d see on a little boy opening a box with a photo of a toy truck on it to find that the box only contained a half-eaten hot dog. I managed to distract him quickly but how I felt in that moment sums up my troubled relationship with my boobs. Was I guilty of ‘false advertising?’

Fast forward nine years and after more than a decade of purchasing push-up bras (almost exclusively from Vicky’s), dissatisfaction from poor fit finally forced me to consider alternatives. But leading up to that point, almost as if by compulsion — and mostly ignorance — I kept buying them as a staple because I had gotten addicted to adding at least a cup size.

Every night when I peeled off my bra, my face changed much like my ex’s did. No doubt, there’s a time and place for push-up bras and shape enhancements, but owning nothing but push-ups really disconnected me from my own body. I couldn’t recognize myself without a well-padded bra.

Bravely (by my standards!), I started to wear contour and unlined bras. I reacquainted myself with my figure. I’ll be honest. I didn’t like it. My inner critic was mean and deprecating. But it felt so right and so empowering. And I felt, just maybe, I was able to love myself the way I am.

Not long after I became comfortable with my new habit, I went shopping at Panty Raid on Hillhurst in Los Feliz. “What size are you?” asked the owner. “32B.” “Oh then you can pick any bra!” It was a magnificent feeling to be told I wasn’t inadequate. In fact, quite the contrary!

I don’t know what life is like to be on the other end of the cup size spectrum. From what I’ve read, fuller busted ladies face their own set of challenges. We seem to be socialized to believe the grass is always greener on the other side and if someone different than you is considered beautiful, that automatically means you are not. Garbage!

Let’s be clear, even though I’ve learned to stop wishing I had larger breasts, I’m still a boob lover. I can love myself in a 32B while admiring ladies who rock a 36F.

If we can learn to appreciate the bodies we’ve been given, lingerie’s role will be to simply adorn what was beautiful to begin with. Self-love and self-acceptance — not a piece of garment — will always be the only true path to salvation.

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

19 Comments on this post

  1. […] the addition of some skintone adhesive nipple covers (in fact, one of our recent guest columnists, Chai, is wearing a Zinke romper in her […]

  2. Ashayla says:

    Thank you. I am going to try and be as you and come to love my tiny breasts. I’m an A cup. It’s going to start standing for A for Awesome.

  3. […] read a guest post over at The Lingerie Addict the other day and saw that it contained a curious phrase. “A […]

  4. […] she also writes thoughtfully about body image. While there, I happened upon this guest post about learning to accept and love your body as it is. The author talks about finding pride in her […]

  5. Katrina says:

    Oh, how I would love to be a 32B and have bra options when I go into a store! I measure at a 30A (32AA in some brands) and the sales associate in Victoria’s Secret LAUGHED at me when she sized me. (You ca bet I’m not shopping there anymore!) I have to buy all my bras online, which is fine because I have found some great options. But I feel like I miss out on the whole lingerie-shopping experience. I’m embarrassed not so much by my size, but because I know the kind of puzzlement/bewilderment/massive eye roll I am going to get from sales associates when I ask for help finding a size smaller than 32A. I do’t want to be shoved into a 32A that doesn’t fit, and I don’t want to be directed to the little girl’s department!

    I’ve been working on accepting my size (recently acquiring some beautiful bras in my size has helped, and so does having a husband who appreciates me for more than my bust size), but it’s a journey, and not always as easy one. Especially when big busts are held up as “ideal” ad as the mark of a “real woman”. But I refuse to call myself “flat chested” (because I truly am not!), or to refer to my breasts as bee stings/mosquito bites/anything else unpleasant. I won’t wear super-padded bras to hide who I am. Because doing those things won’t help me accept myself. Thank you for your post!

    • JustMe_IsThatEverEnough says:

      Hi Katrina,
      Thanks for sharing. Sorry to hear about your treatment at V’sS. I can perfectly understand as I have been brought to tears by a saleswoman, and at a local, high end boutique to boot.

      Apologies in advance to fans of V’sS., but I am not one of them & long ago realized they are not the in the lingerie business so much as they are in the clothing retail BUSINESS. I consider them like The Gap- everywhere and nothing special at all. The only plus is that they are the chain that exposes (pun intended) women to the concept of lingerie as young adults. (less mortification than being the only woman in a lone underwear dept at a dept store of limited range.)

      Buying smaller sizes online has also opened up a new world, literally. If I had a more avg size, I might not have discovered some great brands out of Poland for example. Being a collector, I no longer settle for pieces that are just ok but rather something I truly adore… and extension of my shopping philosophy overall, that I have to LOVE an item, not just “like it”. Yes, I still often sew in some “extras” on top (esp to even out my 2 sides), but feeling a bit better that there are nice things out there.

      Now, just have to work through relationship issue- why men I know only equate lingerie with wanting/getting sex. I’m a lingerie collector to help my own self esteem, but don’t know how to voice that so a man understands. It has nothing to do with sex for me, and has been in my life way longer than any thought of sex. Guess this is whole other topic!

  6. Emily says:

    The scary thing to me is the push-up-bra lines titled things like “Ego Boost”… http://www.barenecessities.com/lily-of-france-ego-boost-push-up-underwire-bra-2131101_product.htm?pf_id=LilyofFrance2131101

    Because your self-esteem can only be as high as your tits are….


  7. Thursday says:

    I used to wear mostly padded bras, not only because my bust is small, but also because it is noticeably uneven, but then I discovered how sexy and pretty sheer and unpadded bras made me feel. I decided quite some time ago I was not going to worry about my imperfect bust, but it was another matter to embrace how I wanted to feel, and worry less about how it looked. I still wear padded bras, for various reasons – they can be supportive, pretty, and help with the fit of clothing – but I don’t feel I have to. I wear what I want on any given day and that’s what makes me feel sexy and at home with my body.

  8. Christine says:

    Fabulous Website Chai–Love the Blog–and, of course, you look stunning in your picture–at any size!….My motto has always been to be true to myself, be confident in who you are and what you’ve got to offer both inside and out, and every man will see you the same way… I have been told many times that is the most alluring and sexiest quality, and it has always worked for me!–Not that I don’t wear those push-up bras for those lingerie moments–of course I do!–LOL!…xoxo

  9. JustMe_IsThatEverEnough says:

    * Printed out.
    * Posted on mirror.
    * Will read everyday until someday I don’t feel so bad about my small, infinitely perky pair.

    The “deflation” reality has been mine every day since I was 14 and started wearing padded pieces.
    This topic is exactly what got me hooked on UK & European lingerie… the hope that someday I could feel pretty even if nobody else ever sees me that way.
    Thank you for writing your story, and I can’t wait to see your new store.

    • Chai says:

      I’m right there with you – UK and European lingerie really opened my eyes to a new way of seeing myself! We’re launching early next year and will announce precise date on Facebook. Please “like” us (http://www.facebook.com/magalunabrand) so we can keep you posted!

    • Cassie says:

      I hear you on the European lingerie. My aunt has only ever sent delicate, lightly-padded pieces that were designed to push me up, not pad me out. (Or she’s handed me down bras which were loose enough that I could take them in along the cup seaming.) Over here? I can’t even find that in my size in the shops. Sad commentary on the division between cultures, but at least we can get what we want online. Consumer choice: I can has it.

  10. Cassie says:

    Luckily for everyone who’s ever seen me topless, nobody’s ever given me the stink-eye when I unfastened my bra, but I have. I think that’s the most important person of all, isn’t it? The one looking back from the mirror.

    Like you, I’ve gone off the “Add Ten Sizes!!!” styles. Perhaps my current favorite adds some curve to my bosom, but it’s no stranger than the bullet-bra effect — actually, it’s very like that effect, and shaped more like my breasts! Odd but satisfying, to look in the mirror and know that’s essentially what’s on offer. :)

    So I’m on my way, if not quite there yet. Thanks for this post.

  11. Laura Mehlinger (Lola Haze) says:

    Hey Chai,
    I love the way you tell this story — it’s one that I think all women can relate to about some body part. Looking forward to seeing your bra picks when Megaluna launches!

  12. Cristina says:

    I know the feeling, Chai! Perhaps not of the “deflating” feeling and confrontation of push-up bra to real boob size encountered when getting intimate with someone (I met my last boyfriend at the gym, and since I wear a sports bra he wasn’t expecting much!), but with the feeling that I’m not that beautiful for having small breasts. Also, I have this really big butt, so I feel kind of disproportionate! I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m closer to accepting myself as I am, but with all the ideas of how we’re supposed to look to be beautiful, it can get to you! It’s not only full busted women that feel discriminated because of there bodies, though they’re getting the most media attention right now, most women I know feel uncomfortable with themselves in one way or another. There are so many different types of bodies, and so many changes we women go through over the years, it’s hard to accept our bodies as they are and we rarely have the kind of body we want. I guess the best we can do is try to accept ourselves and treat ourselves right. It’s better to be healthy than to strive for something we aren’t or can’t have!

    • Chai says:

      Cristina, I totally agree! We’re conditioned to be self-critical and want to be what we’re not. Doesn’t have to be that way!

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