Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"I Have Found the Promised Land and It is Beautiful" or "Dad, You Can Skip This One"

I have huge breasts.
I'm not bragging, just narrating.
They're massive, heavy, and require industrial scaffolding to keep from swinging like the new century Barry Bonds.
I'm not alone. There's my mother. Her sisters. The women on my dad's side. And, since I come by my breasts honestly, I resent them.
Buying bras has always been an epic mission. As a teenager, I barreled through all the dainty bra sizes, never even owning an A or B cup and only briefly pausing at a C. My mother noted my progress (wearily, almost sadly, as I stood bare-chested at the dryer looking for a bra: "Oh, honey. Looks like you got 'em, too.") and took me to her "special shop" to get fitted.
The saleswoman was a five-foot tall Eastern European woman with a formidable shelf of her own. She stripped me, measured me, pinched the skin at my bra line and disappeared, only to come back with an armful of the ugliest, most matronly nineteenth-century corsets I'd ever seen. Each one was like a toy castle - if you fastened the back and set the bra down carefully on the floor, it could stand up on its own, cups arched like flying buttresses, straps hanging like flags, the bottom band as thick and sturdy as any fortress wall.
I put one on. It stretched from my bellybutton to my collarbone.
"Perfect," the saleswoman said.

Since then, I've been a bra migrant. Macy's, The Gap, Nordstrom's - for years I've wandered through their pretty lingerie sections to the back wall where they keep the ugly stuff. Large breasts, it seemed, were only to be found on fat women no longer interested in anything near the realm of attractive. Or on strippers, whose buoyant implants had no need for underwire. I tried on bra after bra, decided to believe the sixteen-year-old who fitted me at The Gap and insisted I was a 36 DD - a size that, while too big for the assholes at Victoria Secret to stock, was occasionally possible to find at some out-of-the-way department stores - and spent a decade fighting muffin-tops and peek-a-boos.

And then my life changed.

Earlier this summer, BKD (before Ky died), I went to a party and in walked Kristy, dear friend of Megan, who is a dear friend of Kate, who is a dear friend of mine, and we were all like, snap! The girl had it going on - thin, massive breasts, flawless silhouette. They're so perky, someone whispered. And they were. They were glorious and, after some backroom gossiping, confirmed to be real.
I grabbed Kristy's wrist, holding on maybe a little too tightly as I tore through my purse looking for a pen. "Kristy, sweetie, where do you buy your bras?"
Here, dear reader, I'll pause for you to run and get a pen of your own, because if you yourself are not a bra migrant, surely you know someone who is, and if they don't happen to live in the NYC metropolitan area, surely they'll find themselves here sometime or another in the years to come, and if so, they absolutely must visit this store:
Town Shop
I'm not fucking around. 2273 Broadway, btwn 81 and 82nd Sts. Write it down.

So today at around 12:30 pm, I went. I must've hit a lunchtime rush because the place was busy. In the front of the store, loud Jewish women pushed through racks of bras and panties with menopausal authority, shouting across the store to their daughters and friends, It's here! It's here in Wheat! and Cup size, darling! I need your cups!
The fitting counter was in the back. I wrote my name down on a waiting list while the Town Shop employees - unsmiling black women with dozens of bras looped around their arms - squeezed past me as if I wasn't there.
And then my name came up. I was shown to my fitting room, a curtained nook with a chair and full length mirror. In the room next to mine, I could hear another loud Jewish lady: "I don't want 'em minimized, I don't want 'em maximized. I want 'em to look how they should look, so you bring me the bra that's gonna do that."
My own saleswoman was petite and very pregnant. Not a promising sign. Even with a six-month belly, she barely pushed a B cup.
"What do you want?"
"I have nothing. My bras are all old, they don't fit, the underwire is snapped. I need something I can wear with a t-shirt."
"Take it off."
I undressed. She looked at me, turned me around once, and disappeared. She didn't even pull out a tape measure. When she came back, it was with one bra. One.
She held it out for me while I looped my arms through the straps.
"Lean forward."
I did, my ass pressing against her round belly as she reached around me to give each one of my breasts a firm jiggle. She turned me to face the mirror.
I couldn't say anything more. My breasts, finally slung in cups large enough for them, actually looked smaller. The bra was cut attractively low, supportive but still V-neckable. My stomach remained bare. The band neither dug into my spine nor rode up to my shoulder blades. And it only had two hooks. Two!!
I tried a tentative bounce. Nothing. I jumped. They stayed where they were. No jaw-dropping heave. No busting out the top. I turned to the side and, at the sight of my smooth, seamless silhouette, burst into tears.
"What size is this?" I managed.
"34 FF."
Fuck The Gap.
"How could you possible have known? You didn't even measure me."
She just rolled her eyes and popped the tag off my brand new best friend.
"You should wear it out. That thing," she waved distastefully at my 36 DD, abandoned on the floor, "should be thrown away."

So thank you, Town Shop. Thank you, Kristy. My breasts look amazing. And even in the shittiest of times, the value of a good bra cannot be denied.


Cynthia said...

Wow, babygirl, the bra joint worked out! I'm thrilled (since I'm back to inadequately pouring myself into Target's DD's), and now I have a wonderful excuse to come visit you and the shop. I know this falls into the Too Much Information Category, so delete this if you wish. I love you. Looking forward to seeing you, Mum

Sallie Whitham said...

Your well endowed aunt nearly had a heart attack this morning.

You see I own two bra's that work well for me (and they only have 2 back hooks!!!). my second is my most cherished - it is BLACK - I won it on ebay (over 50 bucks and it is an irregular) I had to battle for it as black size 34G is sure hard to come by. It came all the way from England!

This morning it went missing - after working myself up into a big sweat and pulling all my stuff out of my closet and emailing you to make sure it didn't get mixed up with your black clothing - I finally found It had been shoved up behind my drawer.

I can't believe how relieved I am - my pulse is starting to return to normal...

You my dear niece are one of the few people who can actually get this. I can SO relate to this story.

Cate said...

Meh. Now I'm sad I left NYC after college. I doubt I'll ever have a good fitting bra again!

Krista said...

When I was 11 (before puberty) my mom caught me stuffing my training bra with tissues. She just looked and me and said, "Oh honey, just you wait. If you got my genes, pretty soon you'll have more breasts than you want.". She was right. Put in a good word for them to open an LA branch?

Jamie said...

My boobs are envious. Each time I get pregnant they go up between one and two bra cups - permanently. I started off a 34B, barely a B. Now I'm a 34F. VERY F. *Sigh* And we eventually plan on having a third child.

The Woman Formerly Known as Jenn said...

This store is 5 1/2 hours from my house, and I am seriously considering driving there this weekend. Must mark the store website in my favorites folder!

PS - Came by way of Boobs, Injuries & Dr. Pepper ( - love your blog!


annie w. said...

There are also 'Intimacy' shops, in Manhattan (1252 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10128 nr. 90th St. ), and Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami...
same experience..amazing fit for the first time EVER.

Belinda said...

B-b-but I live in North Carolina! Could a bra really be worth a $700 round trip plane ticket? Well, DUAH! Of course it could. Lemme call my travel agent!

Suldog said...

Crystal at Boobs, Injuries, And Dr. Pepper sent me here. And she was right: You can write. Excellent storytelling.

Karen said...

Have you ever tried Lane Bryant. Yes the clothing is plus sized, but the bras in their Cacique store are pretty and come in sizes to fit you. I too have never been able to fit in bras from Victoria Secret... so I know the trouble of finding a cute bra, that fits!

Linda said...

I live in NWKS, and we have a cute, large sized bras! Guess I'll have to try Lane Bryant.

I envy, even though it is wrong, all those perky, little, women with perky, little breasts!

I found you from Boobs, Injuries, and Dr. Pepper, too.

Jay_Lee said...

I wish I would have know about this store years ago before my reduction.

Linda said...

whoa...this is the story of my family! My mom's side is all well-endowed...all except me. Two cousins have had reduction surgery due to back and knee issues! But me? I got the 36C. I managed a DD during pregnancies, but that was it.

As a military wife, I guess I'm glad I'm not bigger...finding a bra would be HELL in some of these military towns!

Becky..AMHW said...

Those of you who are large, or oddly sized, and want pretty bras should check out Figleaves. 34FF? Yeah, they have those. 13 pages of those. From 18 bucks and up on that size.

So says the flatchested seamstress who got here from a link from Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper.

Katy said...

I think I am kind of in love with that sales girl.

andi said...

Wish I was in NY. Best we have here is Lady Grace, and yes, they do tend to the matronly.

Lane Bryant instore only goes up to DD, DDD if you're lucky. I know myself well enough that I have to try before I buy!

Anonymous said...

Lane Bryants website goes up higher to F,G,I and you can return them to a store if they don't fit. My problem before my reduction was I have a small ribcage so most places with a cup to fit started at a 40 and I'm a 38. I went from a 38I to a 38DD. I was formerly a 42M (Thank you AlicesUndercoverWorld) before losing 200lbs.

Anonymous said...
You can thank me later
me the anonymous 34JJ
ok not that anonymous
down right scary when I was 115lbs at 5' *

Anonymous said...

umm 5' 8"

MamaMay said...

Wow! wonderful post! Now if only I could find a shop that carried something sexy in a 28AA... yea, I am pregnant and THAT small!

Emily Gore said...

First off, I wanted to say Im sorry for your loss... I will say a prayer for you and your family...

I have no idea about big boobs personally - Im a big B LOL but my sister is a 40KK so I know how hard it is to find a good bra. I had to LOL at this post but Im happy u found a good one. My sister is in VA but I will definately mention this place to her!

Christie said...

I love a good bra! Though I have the opposite problem- I have like negative boobies... sigh

Anonymous said... That's the only place I shop now. I got fitted a few years ago at a great place in NYC (sounds very much like the shop you visited) and just order online now that I know my true size. I was two inches too big on the hook part and a cup size too big as well. Once I was "sized" the girls looked great!
Unfortunately, good bras are not cheap despite what they tell you at Macy's. :( Personally, I love the Chantelle and Wacoals.

-Well Endowed Momma :)

Trini said...

Thank You for posting this!!

I will be buying a plane ticket from Trinidad to New York just to get a bra from these people.
I am not joking, I need them like yesterday. Trying to carry 38 DDD's (which I am sure is the wrong size) on a 5' 3" body without a good bra is NOT PRETTY.
I have bought 10 bras at a time in the past when I found one that sorta, kinda fit.
I am also here from Boobs, Injuries...etc.

Mags from TX said...

Here is Houston we have The Bra Specialist shops. I love those ladies. Pretty, lacy, 2-hook bras everywhere. When I was flush with money I went there and took 2 of my sisters with me. Outfitted all of us with pretty undies. It was wonderful.

Found you from Crystal's blog and now you are bookmarked.

Anonymous said...

Wow...what are the chances that any of these speciality shops have any decent mastectomy bras?? If you want to see matronly...just go check out the hideous overing at

I'm also here from Crystal's blog and I love your writing so I have you bookmarked.

Anonymous said...

I can relate! I have been fitted and found some good supportive bras, but forget about being pretty, they are all business! I have been looking for one I can actually wear something low cut with (making my husband happy). We're planning on driving from SC to Boston this Thanksgiving. Maybe we can make a pit stop!

Anonymous said...

Finding someone who can actually fit a bra is rarer than hen's teeth! The next time I'm anywhere near NYC I'ma give that shop a try.

Love yer writing - got here from Crystal's blog. :o)

The Bad Yogi said...

Don't wear 'em myself, but my prurient interest led me to bookmark this for my wife, and now I pass it on to you.

Be well....

R said...

MamaMay I TOTALLY hear you... I'm a 32A regularly - and while I haven't been fitted since I started nursing (9 months ago - still going strong) I know they haven't grown all that much (just wait though - they DO get a little bigger once you're nursing!!) just be sure to nurse/pump evenly otherwise you'll end up like me - one side NOTICABLY bigger than the other. BOO.

Oh - and yeah, I got my dad's side... my 5'2" 105lb little sister is a 36C - and both my mom & her twin sister had reductions several years back... my mom's side ALL has the big bazoombas... my dad's side, not so much. Thank.You.Dad. I'm almost thankful to be flat-chested... almost.

Here by way of Boobs, Injuries & Dr. Pepper :)

Tiffany said...

Oh can I commiserate! I've been losing weight and am now down to a 32DD. In the 70 lbs I've lost, I've gone down 2 cup sizes and 4 band sizes (I was a 38DDDD.) I'm on the smallest notch of the 32 but still fully filling out the DD portion. 10 more pounds and I'll be needing a 30. A 30DD - where the hell am I going to find that? I live in California - all the boobs here are fake and don't need the steel girding my au naturels do!

BethE said...

I'm a normal size, but this is the first year in my life I had a bra that fits- my mom had a theory that size C fits everyone and bought me bras without me trying them on. I have bags full of C bras that don't fit...
Finally my boyfriend made me to go a store and ask the sales lady for help. Good for him.

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Tired of the Robot messages!

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