Friday, April 18, 2014

Theory 38: Orthopedic bras aren't sexy. Part DDDD, then H, then J

In Part I of Theory 38: Orthopedic bras aren't sexy, I introduce my girls, “Atlantic” and “Pacific” and explain the cone-undrums they cause. Basically, it’s impossible to find a comfortable, functional sports bra, formal dress, or even an every day working mother unmentionable that looks feminine and covers and holds me up.

Let’s not even talk about bathing suits. Swimsuit shopping is its own special dose of Helk. I promise you, those labels that say D are cruel, expensive bait for my manatees. Once, in Panama City Beach, Delicious took me to a massive neon shop whose sign assured, “1,000,000 swimsuits” and something like “a swimsuit for everyone.” I followed Delicious into that shop with confidence and, after dozens of humiliating attempts to marshal my marshmallows, I followed Delicious out in tears. I was young. Now that I’m forty, I don’t really bother. I find the biggest, most expensive black suit Land's End sells and squeeze into it. It's hot. Then I cover cleavage with a drapey coverup. It's hot. A couple of springtimes and mixed drinks ago, my buddy "Pistachio True" convinced me to accompany her to the swimsuit section of Dillard’s. I call her Pistachio True because she loves to crack pistachios while she watches her adored son play baseball. I call her True because she is the most devoted wife, mother, aunt, and friend I think I’ve ever met. Quite a character, she’s perfectly nutty and hard to crack. She's tough, genuine, and 100% authentic. On top of all that, Pistachio True is a shopping genius—efficient, frugal, and fashionable. She would NEVER wear Crocs and Capri’s like many of my teacher friends. I usually shop alone, since things can get ugly, but I trust her judgment, so when she pleaded, I caved. She was confident she could find a swimsuit for me. You see, though I’m confident, I am still modest. I don't like to shop with other women and despise locker rooms. People are always telling me when I complain, “Oh, your boobs don’t look that big to me.” That’s because I wear undercover harnesses and “squeezers” (Red Hot’s daughter Suspenders’ term for tight fitting camisoles). I knew Pistacio True couldn’t find me bathing suit, so my goal at Dillard’s that day was to make sure she at least got a good show for her kind efforts.

~ ~ ~

Flashback: Delicious once donned a new navy and turquoise swirled one-piece with a love apron that swept across her privates and thighs. For someone who shops in the Women’s Departments, she loves to try on clothes.
Anyway, she modeled for me, turning sideways, and asked, “Bug, tell the truth. What do I look like in this one?”

I said, “Hmmm. From the side? A capital D.”

~ ~ ~

Alright, back to the "Bug and Pistaccio True Seek a Swimsuit Show."
Sales lady: "May I help you?"
Bug, loudly for all to hear: "YES! I want to try on the biggest booby swimsuits you have. All of them! I wear 34 DDDD. That's FOUR D's. Do you have any 34DDDD bathing suits with skirts or board shorts hooked on?”

"Also, I want a colorful, 34DDDD swimsuit. Why are all the “big girl” swimsuits black or blue? Why can’t we wear hot pink or red? I may be fat up top but I am still outgoing and girly and flashy. That’s color-ism or fat-ism or boob-ism, don’t you think?"

Pistachio True and the sales rep brought me suits that they just KNEW would fit. I put them on, and watched in delight (I love being right) as they gasped. Spatial reasoning is crucial when selecting swimsuits to cover large ground. Pistachio must wear out Map Quest because she only found one TANKini that came close. She was much more competent than the sales rep. Years of practice? The colorful blue, black, and---yippee---brown and pink suit did cover, but the support was minimal. I bought the top (already had black bloomers) and bragged on her successful efforts. But I made sure she understood that Atlantic and Pacific were still loosey goosey. I always feel loose and exposed in bathing suits, though. Remember, my bras are vices (no stretching, with lots of rods and wires). I just don’t understanding why manufacturers don’t build suits around bras. Ugh. I did some spirited jumping jacks and ran in place for a bit to show Pistaccio just how hard my boob-life is. I wanted pity from my dear friend. She obliged and we still laugh about that adventure. 

Last summer, I wore a swimsuit four times. Heck, just the process of getting it on is a nightmare that requires the following tools:

elbow room
baby powder
Bota Box

Even at Disneyworld, where fat tourists whose counties don’t recognize the merits of deodorant and razors abound, and I should have felt beautiful, but I felt gross. When we scheduled the trip, I freaked when I realized I had to visit Typhoon Lagoon. I had two choices:
1. Wear shorts and a t-shirt and look like a holy roller—those girls with really long hair who scuffle around in heavy denim skirts and swim in long shorts and socks? (Holler, Pigeon Forge buddies, you know what I’m talking about.)
2. Suck it up, batten A and P down and physically participate in my son Sharky’s life.

You see, we visited Disneyworld with Sharky’s baseball team. The boys are 11 and 12 and I was 39, wearing a 34J. They’ve all seen the school video “Changes,” but I didn’t think they were ready to go eye-to-eye with Atlantic and Pacific. Not yet. One of Sharky’s basketball teammates recently told him, “Your mama is hot.” Yikes! I never should have bought him those Skittles. He totally got the wrong idea. Anyway, back to Orlando, where a secret equator that’s more grid than circle steams up parking lots and underwire bras. I had an epiphany: a voice said, wear your bra under your swimsuit. Amen! I had a swimsuit that was black and brown with wide straps that covered my bra. Great! My girls were contained and Houston’s temmates saw no cleavage. They battled the wave pool in innocence without being visually assaulted by my Mountain Oceans. The only problem happened late that night when I couldn’t find my bra. We tore apart Room 305 of Caribbean Beach Resort looking for it, until I realized I still had it on under my swimsuit. Valuable they are, these strong, pricey boulder-holders. For me, they are practically impossible to replace.

So, readers, we’ve established that bra shopping (and wearing) for someone my size was a hot, sweaty, painful, humiliating, expensive, typically hopeless experience. Until. Until the Classy Lady ladies told me about “The Bra Lady” in Fountain City. No, I didn’t nickname her. (Note: You can’t sue for slander if everything is true.) I didn’t nickname her because her name is perfect. I feel another Theory coming on: God names people for their life missions. It’s not an original idea, I’m sure. I’m reading the third part of The Giver right now. In The Messenger main character Matty’s futuristic, yet primitive society, villagers are given “True Names” based on their spiritual, academic, artistic, or physical giftedness.

Well, The Bra Lady is all these things, and her name is true; it suits her talents and her age. Her name is……….. Illa Brawdy! Yep. BRAwdy. BRA is in her name, ya’ll! How about that? And, how about that first name, “Illa?” She’s the only Illa I’ve ever met. She is unique. Plus, BRAwdy is her married name. Do you think she was so helk-bent on a career of harnessing women parts that she pursued Mr. Brawdy for his surname, or, do you think the romantic stars aligned so that big-busted women of East Tennessee could remember whom to call if they lost that promising pale pink business card?

I made the call. Her honeysuckled voice reassured me over the phone. I couldn’t wait for relief!

Finally, the day came. Sharky and I drove north to Fountain City and pulled off a busy main road up a steep driveway into Illa Brawdy’s place of business, B & G Shop. I think the letters stand for Brassiere and Girdle, which should indicate her business’s founding date. Mrs. Brawdy fashioned a business out of her basement. Cats greeted Sharky and me as we opened the basement door. Mrs. Brawdy instructed Sharky, “Go pet the kitty-cats while I help mama.”

I instantly recognized I was in the presence of greatness. Can’t you just sense it when you are with someone who is great at what he or she does? Mrs. Brawdy is to bras and Dolly Parton is to song-writing. Brawdy is to bra-fitting as my dear Agape Agave is to margarita-mixing. I wanted her to rock me in her basement rocking chair and tell me everything would be alright. I completely trusted her. Immediately.

She had blonde, sprayed curls atop her head. She must use a pick to perfection. Everything was under control. She wore a thin, dressy blouse tucked into slacks with a wide belt cinching her petite frame. Her breasts shot straight out, parts parallel to the lineoleum. I immediately thought of my childhood friend’s mother (I mentioned her in the first lines of Part I). Let’s call her “PF Classic.” PF Classic exudes feminine strenth and confidence. Her sophisticated, yet mountain-woman dialect sprinkles colloquial color to conversations. She is smart and wears pants suits. Her platinum curly hair, lit up her face. Her tiny waist reminded me of early Dolly Parton album covers. Her big “girls” were well-contained and supported, but prominent. It was hard not to look at them. She was a glimpse of what my future may be and she was quite reassuring. Inspiring, really. As a teenager, already known and harassed for my early development, I saw hope through her. I admired the confidence in which she carried herself and her parts. Brawdy had similar breasts and a similar aura.

Brawdy took me behind a home-made curtain to a tiny room and whipped out a measuring tape. Her aged-thin hands fluttered across my chest in a mathematical, mumbling fury. She measured jotted numbers onto index cards, measured, jotted, measured jotted…. Then she announced, “Okay, let’s try on some bras.” She asked, “What do you need your bra to do?”

I said, “I need support for my heavy breasts. I also want relief on my shoulders and I hate when the back of the bra slides up.”

Mrs. Brawdy said, “Alrighty. I have JUST the bra that will do that job!” She left me hanging for a bit, and then returned with a beige get-up and explained, “Okay, dear, this will do the trick.”

I looked at the thing and said, “There are no underwires. I need underwires.”

She explained, “No, you don’t, you just need a well-made bra. This here is a suspension bra. It is made so that all the work and weight are balanced throughout the garment. Right now, your poor shoulders are doing all the work. That’s why your neck hurts and you have the indentions. Trust me.”

Honest to God. I quickly realized I needed help to put the thing on. There I stood, in a closet in Fountain City, surrounded by cats and curtains and baskets of bras (oh, and soap operas played on the basement den TV), when the elderly expert Illa Brawdy asked, “Sweetheart, do you mind if I touch your breasts?”

“I don’t mind.”

Like a sick child needing a nightgown, I stuck my arms into the air and let her dress me. She slid the straps over my lily-white arms and scurried around to my back side. She instructed, “Okay, hold this back clasp together for me.” She scurried around to my front side. She literally picked up Atlantic and dropped her into her new cup home. She then picked up Pacific and dropped her into her new cup home. Plop, plop. She clasped the back and said, “Now, bend over and jiggle to get things in place.” I bent and jiggled. She stuffed, tucked, and tugged. She said, “Turn around and look in the mirror. What do you think?”

Well, in one fitting, I’d gone from soft serve in large cups to vanilla scoops in sugar cones. Wow! I’ll give Brawdy this much: I looked 20 pounds lighter and 10 years younger (physically) in that bra. I saw someone I knew in the mirror and said, “I look just like a lady named [PF Classic] I grew up with. So funny!”

Brawdy excitedly said, “Yes you do, because she’s my client and this is the exact same bra and SIZE that she wears! What a neat coincidence.”


My humored heart sank. That wasn’t my goal. PF Classic was close to seventy-years old, and while she looked great, I was in my early thirties and wanted modern boobs, not classic ones. Though I felt fancy FREE (the suspension bra was awesome), I was disappointed. A and P looked like something engineered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They could cause a war or stop one at that “point.”  I wanted soft, rounded breasts that were high and perky and sexy, too. The Golden Gate Bridge bra covered every millimeter of my breasts. I voiced my concern to Brawdy.

She said, “Sweetheart, you need different bras for different reasons.” Here came the cross-sell. She continued, “This is your working girl bra. You wear this when you need support for long hours and want to look thin and fit. I don’t mind a little sugar showing sometimes. Let’s find you a romantic piece.”

Back to the bins she went. One hour and one hundred and forty dollars later, I left, exhausted and a bit sore, with Golden Gate and a black t-shirt bra and a new sense of confident freedom. But, that didn’t last long. Once I got out of The Bra Lady’s basement and spell, I felt super self-conscious in the Golden Gate. I ended up selling it on EBay a year later.

That whole experience was somewhat medical, somewhat spiritual, somewhat comical, NOT sensual, and almost indescribable.

~ ~ ~

Delicious—maybe five years ago—spotted a diamond in the rough bins at Dillard’s—a gem of a bra, manufactured in France. She found the prize egg, really, a 34DDDD Chantelle bra that not only fit me, but also minimized me. Wuv. Twu Wuv. I cut the tag out of that bra and kept it in my wallet with papers so important I had to keep them ON me at all times (teaching license, adoption approval letter, Delicious’s prescription list). Since then, I've ordered those bras online. Online shopping for lingerie in my size is utilitarian and efficient.

But, last month, my cups overflowed to the breaking point.

These bras were pricey, and usually stuck me for around $90, so I ordered them infrequently. Well, around Christmas, as I frantically decorated, I grazed an old nail sticking out of the wall and ripped a hole in Pacific’s black lace cup. The levy broke. A and P are hard enough to contain without holes in the netting. Think buttered biscuits in a minnow trap. I thought, Great. More expense at the most expensive time of year. Yay me. I informed Tall Child that he was financing a new dam/bra/trap for me as a Christmas present. I huffed and puffed and searched through cyberspace only to be met by a grievous realization; like all perfect lipstick shades, or diet foods that taste good and work, my Chantelle Style 37?1 34DDDD was discontinued. Tragic. Now I had to go on a physical search and locate a new bra. Double miserable whammy. Duct tape and winter layers got me through Christmas. Finally, on a rare February weekend morning when Sharky had no ballgames, I ventured out to the mall for a bra hunt.

Two hours and seventy attempts later, I left with a $68 34H that barely fit and an epiphany: it is time to say goodbye to A and P. I'd hit the ocean wall. The following Monday, I called a plastic surgeon and set an appointment to discuss breast reduction. I told Agape Agave about it, and she said, “Oh, no, Bug, this makes me sad. You are our personal Dolly.” That makes me sad. A and P are a huge part of my identity. But I hurt. I am weary. I am ready to lay down this load. The surgery is scheduled, but I am a nervous wreck for many reasons. Shallow? Maybe? My number one concerned is that I’ll have freak out and feel like parts of me are missing, in a bad way. Also, I’ll no longer have my #1 excuse for not exercising and not wearing a bathing suit. Plus, folks won't compare me to my hero anymore.

One of my many Dolly albums.

Plastic surgery ... aesthetics ... pieces ... parts ... construction ... lifting ... all these terms remind me of Theory 39, which was actually coined by my grandmother, Buddy, back when I was a teenager and none of these terms applied to me just yet. Ah, but they do now. Visit next Friday for Theory 39: There is no such thing as naturalbeauty. 

“Hang”in there, readers. See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.
~ ~ ~
Like what you read?
You'll LOVE my book of fleshed out, ramped up,
risk-taking Theories.

From the back cover


Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post a superlative!
Facebook: Author Jody Dyer (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website:
Buy my work here:

Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...