I went bra shopping today. There are some really lovely bras out there.
And then there are the bras that are made for people my size.
Let me be clear… whilst I hover between regular sizing and ‘plus’ sizing (ie, I buy larger sizes in a regular store but I can also shop at the lower end of the plus stores) I am by no means an uncommon size. It’s not like I’m asking for a 26GGG – I acknowledge that it’s not financially viable for places like Myer to stock loads of non-standard sizes. But for goodness sake, I just wanted a lousy D cup with a band size somewhat larger than 12 but smaller than 20. And yes, they had bras in my size. Mostly, they looked like this:
Utilitarian, and always beige. Okay, I get that they need some reinforcement, but do they have to be so ugly? But what really bothers me about this is the implication that larger women don’t need nice underwear. Who cares what the fatties wear, right? If they happen to be in a situation where undressing is involved, they should just be grateful they’re getting some. But of course that’s never going to happen anyway, so we’ll just stick with the ugly underwear. Like it even matters.
I know that sounds like a huge leap, but it’s part of a larger culture that wants fat people to be invisible. Try shopping in the plus size section of Target or Kmart or any other non-specialty store (like, where most people shop) and see what clothes are available. There is an ocean of black, because it’s slimming. Occasionally there will be some solid colour items – usually red or purple – and VERY occasionally there’s a print. Most items are wide leg trousers and long, draped tops. And baggy tee shirts. There is nothing fitted and there are no cute sundresses or flared knee length skirts. There are no jeans unless they have an elasticised waist. Because these things apparently ‘don’t suit’ fat people. Which can be translated as ‘these clothes allow society to see their fatness instead of covering it up in shame’. That is NOT okay. No one, no matter what their size, needs to be ashamed of their body. People rarely try to tell skinny people how they “should” dress (although ignorant, thoughtless people are often more than happy to say things like “look how skinny you are” or tell thin women that only ‘real’ women have curves – which is also not okay). So why is it acceptable to dictate to fat people how they should dress? Hint: it’s not.
Anyway. I ended up searching through pretty much every rack and managed to find a few bras in my size. I don’t mean I managed to find a couple I like; I mean I eventually found the half dozen bras in the entire store that came in my size. They’re not pretty, but they’ll do the job. Now, I do know that there are plenty of places that cater for non-standard sizes, and I know I’d be able to find nicer underwear there. But those places, being a niche market, are usually massively pricey. Like most women, I have one or two expensive but really nice bras. However, since I don’t want to spend every night hand-washing my lovely bra so I can wear it again the next day, I have chosen to fill in the gaps with some cheaper, less awesome bras. Like everyone does. And it ticks me off that a quick trip to the shops for some okay underwear becomes this massive production where I have to search through rack after rack after rack to work out whether they even make that bra in anything above a 14C, then grovel on the floor to find the ONE bra left in my size, if I’m lucky. Frankly, that sucks and it’s humiliating. I want the same choices that everyone else has. If they’re making a 12A bra in purple velour with silver polka dot straps, then I want it in my size too, please. I might not buy it, but I want the option. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.