Ignore the knockers
Amanda Blair takes us behind the curtain in pursuit of the perfect bra.
Life events come around so fast, particularly as you get older. Some I really look forward to, like the stocktake sales and my annual dental clean. Nothing makes me sing like bed linen at 50 per cent off and a plaque-free palate. But there are other occasions I dread.
Shopping for a bra is one of them. Sure, you’d think it would be a simple errand, something run-of-the-mill, particularly as I’ve been a consumer of corsetry since I was a teen. According to my children, the wrinkles around my eyes mean I’m very old, so you’d think I’d have nailed this purchase by now. Yet, years down the track, I still find the whole experience incredibly unpleasant, nay emotionally draining.
So here I was again, telling a friendly salesperson that I just need a bra, same one as last time, thank you very much.
The eyebrow arch was the first sign that I’d said something wrong. She said I’d be doing myself an injustice by not looking at the entire range available for women of my age and, ahem, physical condition. Undergarment technology has made enormous advancements you know, so I should take advantage. I meekly submitted to her obvious superiority when it comes to these womanly pursuits and agreed to try on her hand-picked selection. She gently moved me forward through the store and comfortingly rested her hand on the small of my back.
My stomach knotted because, like a cow heading for the slaughter floor, I’d worked out where I was going – to a teeny room lit like a laboratory which beautifully illuminated my every fleshy crease, spot, blemish, freckle and roll of back fat.
I can’t miss these form features in the strategically hung rear view mirrors which prove to me that, yes, my bum actually does look big in this, this and everything else I wear because my posterior is positively enormous. I sigh, but remind myself that that’s not why I’m here. I’m not looking backward, I’m looking forward and, holy moly, what I see before me shocks me. A floppy, well-worn, wrinkly and out-of-shape top half stares back at me. Friends, I can’t even bring myself to mention the condition of my bra …
My lingerie lady wedges her way in behind the curtain so she can get a handle on what she’s dealing with. She looks me up and down, purses her lips and says that my current bra choice is “interesting”.
But she assures me it’s possible to change and forcefully places her selections inside my cubicle. I struggle with the concept that a product called “Mademoiselle” or “Misty” is going to help me as I struggle with getting all four hooks on the clasp lined up and fastened. One by one, we go through them and, like Goldilocks, everything was too small, too sexy, too scratchy, too busty, too sporty, too plunging or too ridiculous – the Push-Up? Puhleese, on a 48-year-old after four children? Spare me.
She tells me to work through the pain and eventually we’ll find the right bra that will turn the clock back to when I was firm and perky. Before children, mortgages and marriage. I’m between the Balcony and the Built-in-Bra when it hits me that I don’t want to be transformed. I’m actually happy with my ageing frame and, more importantly, with my old bra style – plain, reliable, able to be worn every day under anything without fuss, a workhorse. Besides, I’m filled with the fear that if I came home with something fancy my husband will think that I’m having an affair or, worse still, that I want more regular sex. Plus, at my age, not changing and just being yourself is sexy. Who cares what the knockers say (no pun intended). Billy Joel knew what I’m talking about. He even wrote a song, “Don’t go changing, to try and please me, I love you just the way you are, I love you in your old beige bra …”
She looks me up and down, purses her lips and says ‘interesting’.