The bra shadow
I was traumatized when I realized I was the only girl in eighth grade who didn’t wear a bra. I was playing short stop at a softball game when I noticed every girl in front of me had a bra shadow under their white team shirt. I wore an undershirt. If I could have crawled under the second base pad, I would have. As we jogged back to our bench after the opposing team’s three outs, more bra lines came into view. Every girl on the other team sported a bra too. I was a loser!
I ran home with my cheeks as rosy as my areolas. I was out of breath when I burst through the front door, “Mom we need to go bra shopping right now!” I cried. “I am the only girl in my class without a bra. I am wearing an undershirt like a third grader.” I sobbed.
She tried to console me, “You don’t need one yet,” she said calmly. This was not what I wanted to hear! “My breast buds could blossom overnight! I need a bra!” I screamed.
She agreed to take me to Richardson’s Store.
I just wanted a white bra that would give me a bra shadow for softball. My mom was across the aisle when I chose a full cup 36 D bra. I wanted to be able to grow into it if I sprouted over the weekend.
“Anne, I asked Mr. Richardson to get us some help choosing a bra for you,” she said.
“You told Mr. Richardson I need a bra???” I was mortified. No sooner did I hear him on the loud speaker say, “Suzie, can you help Bette’s daughter find a bra?” How could my mother do this to me?
As luck would have it, Mary Lou Genaro, the biggest busted girl in my class, stopped to say hello. “I’m bra shopping, too.” She eyed up my massive 36D cup and said, “Uh, that’s my size, Anne.”
“Oh, I’m holding it for my mom.” I lied.
My mom arrived with a big smile on her face and her 34B chest. “Hi, Mary Lou,” she smiled. Busted! (No pun intended) “We’re just getting Anne her first bra.” I wanted to die!
Suzie arrived with three 32AAA bras for me to try on. They were miniscule compared to Mary Lou’s. I could fit all three of them into one of her cups.
Fifty years later, the days of my small bras are long gone. Five children have been fed and nourished. I’ve stuffed my chest into mammogram machines without screaming. The old gals just aren’t their old perky selves. I need a push up bra to get them to even peek out of my blouses.
Menopause has taken a toll on my body and mind, but really? I don’t deserve this. I’ll have to roll them up like matching socks and stuff them in my bra. Even if I joined a gym to get in shape, there’s not enough muscle in my upper arms to lift those babies back into place. Besides, I could get tangled in the chest press machine or worse yet, squish them in the thigh press. It’s just not safe for me to entertain a gym membership.
Oh how I long for the old days at Richardson’s Store when my tiny breasts were just thinking about budding. At that time, I just wanted a bra shadow to prove I was blossoming like the other girls. Now I need Mr. Richardson to page, “Suzie, there’s a woman who looks like Bette here. She needs a hand crank to stuff her breasts back in her bra. Can you meet her in the Tool Department?”
I just wish my mom could be there with me. I bet she’d wear that same big smile.
- Anne Bardsley
Anne is the author of How I Earned My Wrinkles, Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause and Angel Bumps. Hello From Heaven. You can find her work on Erma Bombeck, Very Funny Women, Island Reporter, Purple Clover, Feisty After 45, Paradise News, Better After 50, The Grand Magazine and many others. And you can follow Anne on her blog annebardsley.com.