I went bra shopping last week.
I know that this may not seem like much of a big deal, but for me, it was quite the event.
As a teenager, bra shopping is a low-key event. Back then, most girls have 'boobies' and a quick trip to Tammy Girl with their Mums to buy two tiny triangular slithers of white cotton to decorate them was all that was required.
Those 28AA days sure were simpler times.
As we became women, the 'ies' fell off and we became the proud owners of a fully formed set of 'boobs'. This meant that we were then qualified to enter the lacy/satin bra sections of H&M and New Look where our goal was to pump up, decorate and exaggerate what we had so that we could dress to impress.
And for most of us, it worked.
The 32C years were, well, bags of fun.
But, after having kids, the 'boobs' are no more. Now, they are just 'breasts'...or 'mammaries' (according to the medical text books)
They've been the udders that have fed our children and are now the plump cushions for their sleeping heads. They've been squeezed, pumped, prodded and poked by babies, midwives and health visitors and because of this, they are now the floor-facing members of society.
They have lost their fight against gravity and now hang their sad faces in defeat.
The bras of New Look and H&M aren't going to cut it anymore. Mums need a piece of sophisticated attire: a solid structure of mechanical marvellousness that is able to lift the spirits of our depressed chests.
So, given the situation, I booked an appointment to get measured and fitted at a respected establishment which caters for women who are in possession of more than a handful.
And it wasn't at all what I expected.
I expected a middle-aged lady with a tape measure. A kind, warm soul like Angela Lansbury: someone who knew what my chest had been through and someone who wanted to offer it support.
But I didn't get an Angela.
I got a 25 year old girl dressed in a tight black top which perfectly exaggerated her firm, upstanding rack. Gravity, it seemed, was still her friend.
And there was no tape measure.
"I don't use a tape measure", she said. " Just show me what you've got and I can decide how big they are just by looking at them"
Excuse me? Just show you my breasts, here and now? And without even offering to buy me a drink first??
'I'll show you mine if you show me yours", I winked.
But she didn't flinch.
She was serious. There was no messing about.
She just stood there in silence with her hands fixed firmly on her tiny hips, eyeballing my chest until I felt compelled to strip and expose myself.
'Right', she said as her eyes surveyed the damage .'So you've been wearing this have you?'. She suspended my off-white/over tumble-dried Matalan BOGOF bra in the air as the corners of her mouth curled downwards in disgust.
"Well, this just won't do!'.
She then proceeded to downgrade my chest further and further down the alphabet away from the AA classification that they used to be.
"Right, let me see what I can do. There's a robe there if you want to cover yourself up", she said as she disappeared out of the cubicle.
Well, it's a bit late for that.
She returned moments later with the following bras to try:
THE 'PRETTY POINTLESS' BRA.
Red and lacy, pretty but pointless.
One went left, the other went right...like they were attempting to do the Macarena.
I lost sight of my knees in an instant (which is quite important when one takes escalator-riding safety into consideration)
Yes it was pretty, but point-less.
'No', I said. 'I don't like it. I don't want to decorate them, I just want to make them look smaller!!'.
So, she introduced the:
'PUT YOUR PROBLEMS BEHIND YOU' BRA.
Yes, this bra sure appeared to do the trick: a slick, black number that squeezed and flattened, magically making my bosoms vanish from centre stage.
Out of sight, out of mind.
...but the view from backstage told quite a different story.
It became clear that it's not always possible to put all of your problems behind you.
'Oh, no', she gasped', This just won't do. You need something with more of a lift'.
So she picked up the:
'PUMP-UP-THE JAM' BRA.
She scooped up my boobs, stomach and most of my back fat into her hands and balanced them on top this polka-dotted balconette number.
I achieved a size 10 waist and a comfortable chin rest instantaneously.
'It's ok, but I'm not sure my car insurance company will pay out in the event of an accident if my vision is compromised', I said.
'But, on the plus side, I guess I'll have my very own built-in airbags'.
So, for the sake of road safety, we decided to dismiss the pump-up bra and try a seemingly more low-key white cotton bra.
This was the:
Now, I think most folks would agree that a six pack of lager is a wonderful thing. And a six pack of muscles on a man's torso?...beautiful!
But a pack of six boobs?.. Not so much.
Two are enough to handle, so adding an extra four to the load became too much of a burden to face.
After a further 20 minutes of tucking, lifting, squeezing, contorting and debating, we finally found a bra capable of standing up to the challenge. Result.
I left the shop laden with not-so-fun bags filled to the brim with practical, cottoned cup-holders
I bid farewell to my boob-lifting companion having accepted that my 32C days are over.
It seems that the 32C days are to remain a distant but very fond mammary.
This post first appeared on Katy's blog http://www.carryonkaty.com
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