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.