I’M STANDING in the fitting area of Linda’s, an extravagant lingerie store in Murray Hill, New York. Purple-draped changing rooms loop around a plump, cream chaise longue, and on the walls hang sepia-toned photos of exceptionally sexy—and well-endowed—women. They aren’t the breakable, thigh-gapped girls you see on Victoria’s Secret posters; they’re plus-sized models with voluptuous bodies, their breasts bigger than DDs. Through an open door, I glimpse a stockroom filled with gleaming racks of bras in every size, style, and color imaginable. Peach, crimson, black, cream, dark blue, magenta; full cups, demi cups, balconettes; with wires and without. It’s a candy shop of bras, and I’m the fat kid. I’m in big boob heaven.
But I’m not used to glamorous bra shopping experiences. For me, and many other women “blessed” with big breasts, bra shopping is a stressful, even shameful, experience wrought with self-delusion, loathing, and disenchantment. I didn’t always have this problem. At age 11, it was quite the opposite. When I asked my mother—from whom I’ve inherited my now 32G chest—to take me shopping for my first bra, her response was ambivalent; she’d be happy to buy me a bra, but did I need one just yet? Well, I wanted a bra and breasts sumptuous enough to fill it, so mum took me to John Lewis, a British department store, to get fitted. I had dreams of pretty black lace, something sheer and sultry. Alas, my first bra—a white, sensible under-thing that landed flatly against my flatter chest—didn’t live up to my expectations. Because a black lace bra is not the sort your mother buys you.
Like most preteen girls, I was desperate for big boobs. But as my breasts developed, through my teenage years, into D, E, F, and—in the last couple of years—G to H territory, they’ve become too big for dainty bras; ones with barely-there lace and spaghetti-thin straps, or scalloped balconettes and delicate bows. Though, at first, I loved my larger breasts, I was reluctant to shop at big bra stores like Bravissimo, a British retailer that, according to their philosophy, carries styles “designed especially for big boobed women so that they can celebrate their curves and feel good about themselves!” On my first visit at 17, the chatty, busty woman fitting me (without a tape measure, I should add) lectured me about wearing the wrong bra size. The right bra should fit so the middle section between the cups digs in here against your rib cage. And the straps should be tight enough to squeeze your shoulders and back, which should make you feel somewhat like a whale being hoisted into a fisherman’s net. Oh, and sweetie, you want to make sure the cups completely cover each breast. Well now, there’s a great fit. Let’s wrap those up for you, shall we, poppet?