First of all, if you don't love BlogHer for having me -- ME -- write about good health, then you are outta your head. I mean, haven't we all had enough of "good health" equaling some gorgeous, flat-chested, way-too-high-spirited super-blond woman cheering about stairmasters and "balanced diets"? Seriously. There is more to good health than aerobics and celery.
La la la.
So my post is about bras. And you better believe there are illustrations. Read it here! (Or below.)
* * * * *
This is the third monthly update in a series, following the launch of BlogHer's 2008 Good Health-a-thon. Sign up (and get your blog badge) here.
BlogHer's Good Health-a-thon is not just about being healthy (duh), it's also about feeling good. Feeling good on the inside and feeling good on the outside. I've made all kinds of points about setting goals and doing things in the short- and long-term to help our bodies get healthier. But I think it's high time I launch into something a little more tangible and outwardly faced. As it were.
Yes, I am speaking of boobs. (With illustrations, too!)
Love 'em or hate 'em, you've probably got 'em. And that means you've got to do something with 'em. I suppose that "something" could be just letting them hang free, true. But while I like to think that I am supportive of my sistas who reject -- or burn -- the notion of bras, I long ago gave up on the idea that I could/would go anywhere in public without wearing one. So with all deference to those who choose a freer path, this post is about Finding Bras That Fit.
Finding a bra that fits is even better than finding the perfect pair of jeans. A good bra is like a good friend: it'll support you, lift you up when you're feeling down (ahem), know your darkest secrets but love you anyway, and make you look great in front of even your worst critics. The right bra can improve your posture, make your torso look longer, and help all your clothes fit better.
Plainly put, the right bra can change your life.
Except, from what I keep reading, most women have NO idea what size bra they should be wearing. It's practically epidemic. Women refuse to get fitted -- they don't like the idea, it's uncomfortable, they're too modest, they have been wearing the same bra size since high school -- and so now we're facing a national crisis where approximately 149% of US women are wearing the wrong size bra.
Hey, I was the worst offender. As a woman who is basically carrying around a pair of bowling balls, I have tried every kind of bra out there, and have been the picture-perfect "DON'T" many times over. In fact, I still offend every now and then when I let my guard down, and think "Oh, I can still fit into THAT bra" and then the pictures from the wedding come back and I notice that I looked less "lifted and separated" than I did "saggy and separated so far it kind of looks like my boobs are sprouting from my armpits."
So if you fall into any of the categories illustrated below, get thee to a fitting room! Every department store that has a lingerie section will also have a salesperson there willing (nay, champing at the bit) to help you figure out what size bra you should be trying. Maybe this seems uncomfortable or unnecessary, but I assure you, the results are worth it.
You Need To Be Fitted Immediately If Not Sooner If Any of the Following Apply To You
(And uh, about the drawings: I am not an artist. I draw for effect but not precision, as you will note in about .03 seconds. I also do not have a steady hand, and sometimes leave things out of drawings entirely unintentionally and don't even notice it until later. Try and roll with it.)
Example #1: Your Bra Creates Cleavage Where There Should Not Be Any
Sometimes, bra straps dig into your shoulder far enough that you get little lumps on either side of the strap.
(I do not know why she has no eyebrows or chin or left side of body. Oops! Artistic license!)
What is interesting about this phenomenon is that, in addition to it looking a little...shall we say...less-than-chic, it's also painful for the wearer. Your bra strap should not be a device of torture (well, any more than it has to be). Taking it off should not cause your shoulder muscles to pop back into place. If your straps are doing this to you, they are not the right size.
The next grade of offense is when your bra is too tight around your back, and you create anywhere from one to three extra fat rolls. This happens when the bra number size is a little too small. I still personally do this all the time because my subconscious really believes that if the bra is cutting into my skin all the way around, cutting off circulation, burdening my breathing, and creating all kinds of ripples under my shirt, then surely it must be working!
Normal shirt fits normally.
It is not.
FAR WORSE than either of these, though, is the bra that is too small for you cup-wise. I have done this. You have done this. But the look? It is really not good. I'm talking about when the bra starts creeping down, and the top of the boob starts spilling over, and then you end up with a pair of boobs above the pair you already have.
Problematic! (Also, let us not discuss the number of issues with THIS scary drawing!)
Four breasts on one woman is simply two too many.
Example #2: The Uni-Boob (aka, The Sports Bra)
I do not know why sports bras are made the way they are, but I will resign myself to the idea that some physics was involved and there's a reason the "athletic" industry created this contraption. For those ladies who are a bit smaller up top, the sports bras seem to do everything they can to mash your goods into non-existence. Which is cruel.
For those of us with a little more top-cushion, the sports bras serve one purpose and one purpose only: to smoosh two perfectly normal breasts into becoming one, uncomfortable loaf. Sexy!
I don't pretend to understand this phenomenon, but it's no matter. The point is, your everyday bra should not do what a sports bra does. And frankly, I do not know that the sports bra as such is even necessary. It is my belief that a good, supportive bra should serve your workout purposes as well. If you're super worried about out-of-control bounciness, try wearing a normal bra under the sports bra -- that should help your breasts resist spandex unification.
Example #3: The Bra That Is Super Comfortable (Because It Is Not Working)
The right bra should definitely be comfortable -- not digging in to your shoulders or back or unifying your goods. But it should not be so comfortable that it isn't actually doing...well...anything.
Here's a very scientific test:
- Take off your shirt.
- Look down.
- Note where your boobs are.
- Take your bra off.
- Note where your boobs are.
If there is no difference between step 3 and step 5, your bra is not the right size.
Thus concludes my overview of when you should consider revisiting your bra "settings." When I'm properly fitted and properly supported, I know I feel like I've had a total body makeover. So until next month's Good Health update, here's wishing the same to you and uh, yours!