Bra bra bra
So, yeah, have a blog. I can’t remember when I last updated. A while ago. Well, I haven’t really had the time, and when I have had the time, I’ve been more focused on watching TV and lying around my room rather than doing some writing. Again, the ‘random word’ concept has little relevance to this post, but again, it’s because I’ve got something that I want to talk about. It’s something that may, or may not, be relevant to your life. But you should read it anyway. It’s important. It’s going to change the way you live your life… well, maybe not you personally, but… actually, it’s going to change the fabric of society as we know it. It’s going to change the WORLD.
I am talking, of course, about bras. Ah, the bra. Whether sexy, paddy, lacey, balcony, sporty; practical or impractical; big or small, a lot of women wear them. I did a quick Google search, y’know, because I’m dedicated to providing you with objective facts and stats and wanted some serious scientific basis for this very very serious topic, and found out some quite interesting things. I’m not sure about the reliability of this evidence, but these were the most interesting ‘facts’ I found, and all of the official proper looking articles were too boring to even read properly. Although I did find the same facts repeated on several sources, so either they’re actually true, or these people are all as lazy as I am when it comes to research and have all been copying from each other.
Apparently, the average woman owns 9 bras. I did a quick tally of my own wardrobe, and that’s not a bad estimation. Now, consider the fact that all of my regularly-worn bras were purchased in the last couple of years, and that nearly all of them cost around the ten pound mark. I’d say an average of ten pounds. One was only five, a few were eighteen. I think one might actually have been upwards of twenty. So, that’s at least ninety pounds that I’ve spent on bras in about two years. Less than two years, actually. Closer to one. At least five of those bras have been bought since I started university. That’s less than a year. Over fifty quid in that time, just on bras. It seems a tad excessive for something that, actually, not many people are really going to see.
I’m also aware of the fact that I spend relatively little on bras. Because I don’t see the point of paying that much for something that probably won’t fit me properly anyway. I asked a friend about this to see if her experience corroborated mine. She only owned five bras, but spent around thirty quid on each, and reckoned that she’d spent a hundred quid on just bras in the past couple of years.
Now, I’m not sure about you, but I’m certain that this is Too Much. Too much to spend on something that I do not like, that I do not want to wear, and that is ridiculously difficult to acquire. So just don’t wear them, people may argue. It isn’t that big a deal. No need to start an international incident over it. But the fact is, I have to wear them. I don’t have much of a choice. Because, let’s face it, they do serve some purpose. Support, for one. If the damn things weren’t constantly strapped in place, I’d end up smacking myself in the face with them while running down the stairs. Decency, for another. While some of my friends boast at ‘hardly ever’ actually having to wear a bra, I can name many many items of clothing that just… no. No, I could not. If I did not wear a bra with that, I might be arrested. It may be my fashion choices, but I doubt it. In fact, in that department, choice doesn’t come into it as much as some people (who do not own breasts) would expect. This is a perfect opportunity for another well-researched fun fact about bras: the average fashion is designed for a B Cup. Yeah, great. I’m trying to make this a fairly objective manifesto on bras, rather than a waily rant about how my chest means that no clothes fit me ever, but… yeah, no clothes fit me ever. And, seeing as the average bra size is a D cup… it seems that not many clothes will fit a lot of women. Which is something that’s really quite annoying. Finding a lovely dress in, say, Topshop (this might be based on personal experience) only to find that the bloody thing seems to want to compress your chest to half its size, with serious risk of buttons pinging everywhere if you dare to breathe out, but that doesn’t matter because you can’t breathe anyway!… it’s certainly not enjoyable. And they never have the next size up. Because if you don’t fit this one size (presumably the size of the mannequins in the shop window) then you JUST DON’T DESERVE NICE CLOTHES. Which is bollocks.
So, fashion is evil, and bras are evil, especially if you are a person with breasts. Evil but necessary. And just as shopping for clothes is bad enough when you need to accommodate a cleavage in there somewhere, shopping for something that is designed especially for said cleavage is definitely worse. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But bra shopping is, without a doubt, the most impossible and stressful kind of shopping. And it should be so easy! Bras are a necessary commodity, like chocolate and eyeliner. I long for a world where you could just walk into a shop, pick up a couple of bras and a family sized Dairy Milk, pop them through the self service checkout and get on with your day. But instead, buying a bra has to be an event. This is, in any case, my experience. Perhaps other people have got the knack by now. Perhaps it really is just a case of grabbing what looks nice and has some pretty bows and lacey bits, and hey chesto, job done. But I have discovered that the purchasing of a bra only succeeds if run in the style of a military operation. Step one: acquire target. This is usually a department store, such as Marks & Spencers or Debenhams. It’s about the price range I can handle. And one of the few places that have the size range to allow me to actually purchase from them. Many, many, many a time I have walked into a shop, meandered through the lingerie department, only to find that not a single solitary bra is stocked in anything near the size I am accustomed to wearing. Anyway. Step two: gather many bras. This is done in a sort of fevered dash along the rows and rows of bras, muttering ‘balcony?’ ‘I’m not paying that!’ ‘perfect fit my arse’ in an increasingly manic tone, until I have collected the maximum number that I am allowed to try on.
Step three: the trying on process. This can take some time. It mostly involves standing in front of a mirror, frowning, and trying to reason with myself. Well, maybe if I don’t move at all ever, it’s a good fit. Well, I’ve tried worse. Well, it fits one of them okay. Until eventually, I come to terms with the fact that the cups are too big, or too small, the back size is much too tight, the underwire digs into my ribs so painfully I can barely conceive wearing it for the short time it takes to try it on and then discard it in disgust, or, as so often is the case, the straps feel like I’m wearing a Tesco bag full of tins hanging painfully from each shoulder. Stage four: emerging sullenly from the changing rooms, shoving the vast amount of underwear somewhat guiltily at the changing-room-attendant, and the process starts again. Until, hours later, I emerge somewhat victorious, with a migraine, and clutching the only bra in the shop that seemed to slightly fit me (or at least, was the one with the least flaws).
One might ask why, if it is so difficult to find a bra, I do not, upon finding the bra, buy many of those bras in one go. Save the trouble of going again. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. For one thing, you can’t just have one bra. They’re like shoes (and this is coming from somebody who has as few shoes as is possible) in that one fail-safe pair doesn’t always work. You might need a black one, for instance, but also a light coloured one so it won’t show up under light coloured clothes (not really much of an issue for me, to be honest; the amount of light clothes I own is miniscule). You might need a strapless one. You might need a prettier one for special occasions. You might, simply, want some variety in your life. There is, also, the fact that I have never tried a bra on and thought ‘Yes! This is it! This is the only bra I will ever need in my life! I will buy all of the bras in the shop and BURN the ones that I have at home!’
Because, honestly, it’s hard to find a bra that is a perfect fit. A really perfect fit. I found one once that was pretty close to it, but by the time I realised, the shop had stopped stocking it so I couldn’t go with a trolley and buy up the lot. And even that one had its issues. It just happened to be the least bad of the bras I own. There is also the fact that bras carry with them an innate risk. Bras are, in fact, evil, or hold the potential to be. Recently, a bra I bought that fit, hm, okay enough to buy (I was bored and wanted to get out of the shop, and decided to compromise on some of its faults because it was nice looking and fairly cheap) turned out to be a device designed probably by Satan. On wearing it for a day, I discovered that it was, in fact, causing me excruciating pain. It still fit okay. It still looked quite nice with a low cut dress. But somehow the bottom bit of it, the curved bit where the wire lives, had managed to cause massive red welts in my skin. Another day, determined not to let it beat me, and the welts became so bad that there was actual blood. A bra, something designed to help me, was causing me physical injury. And, as I fought against it, determined not to give in, I couldn’t help but feel that there must be a better way. Eventually, after forcing myself to continue wearing it, and after washing and tumble drying the living daylights out of it, I won. I can wear it now with minimal discomfort. But imagine if I’d thought that was The One. After years of painful shoulder straps, ill-fitting cups and indentations left long after removal, I have become somewhat disillusioned about ever finding The One.
One of the biggest problems with finding a good bra is size. Size, it seems, is constantly changing. I go up or down depending on the shop, or the style. I can never just grab twelve of the last size that fit me, or I end up shame-facedly asking one of the shop assistants to fetch them in a different size, as this shop clearly measures inches differently to the others. The only proper way to avoid this is to ask for a fitting, but getting a fitting in every single shop seems a little… pointless. I mean, why should you have to? Surely your breasts don’t change that much. Surely you shouldn’t have to be measured up in every single place you go to. Surely all of this is just a waste of time, both for the customer and for the staff.
With this in mind, I have devised a system. A system that I expect will revolutionise bra-buying for ever. And the system will work as follows:
1. You opt-in for the new bra system. This avoids embarrassment for those who do not need a bra, and does not waste time for those who do not have issues finding bras. Or who, imagine, actually enjoy going out to buy bras.
2. You make an appointment for a fitting. It’s like an eye test. In fact, bear that opticians analogy in mind. It’s very similar to the idea I’ve come up with. The fitting is free. It’s on the NHS. It’s professional, too, maybe with a waiting room and then a consultation room, rather than standing on the other side of a curtain while a shop assistant flings bras over the railing to you. And you get measured to the standard bra size. Because bra sizes will be standardised. This is perhaps one of the most important changes I will be making. In every shop, they will be the same. It may take a while to implement, but it will be worth it. It’ll cut down the stress and the time taken to find the right bra, and it will leave the customer with time to happily browse the rest of the shop to find a nice outfit to go with the new bra. More money for the shop. Win win. I’m not a bra expert, but I’m envisioning a bit of a prescription, here. Maybe a recommendation of the best style of bra for the best support, fit, and aesthetic appeal. You leave with the absolute knowledge of your size, and an idea of what to look for.
3. You are offered an NHS bra. Seriously, why should we have to pay so much for things that most men do not? Now, these will probably just be your basic bra. Maybe in a couple of styles, as not all women can rock a half cup or plunge. Comfy, standard, in black, white, maybe beige. If you want something a bit more luxury, you will have to pay extra. More deals would be nice though; they really are too damn expensive. Maybe with half price deals. Discounts for young people, whose prescriptions will probably change regularly. Again, I’m thinking of the glasses analogy. Vouchers to spend in other bra shops. Because I’m not trying to put them out of business, or anything, just make it easier. This service offers the basics; what I would expect anyway, and then you can buy the rest of your bras in La Senza or wherever the hell you want with the knowledge that you know your size. Half the pressure is removed already.
4. You can return after a while if you think your prescription has changed.
5. Home testing kits, if you don’t fancy being poked by a stranger, would also be a nice idea. But people should still have access to the services, even if they don’t want the full fitting; the vouchers, the NHS bra, and so forth.
So, there you have it. My hatred of bras, bra shopping, and a very brief overview of why having breasts can be quite annoying, and one small idea of how to change the future of bra-dom forever.
You can thank me later. Just send your letters to David Cameron.