The Girliness Adventures Go UnderWard

Just to get this out of the way: yes, I live in the Boston area; yes, we have more snow than is necessary; yes, that which does not kill us makes us stronger; and yes, it’s getting personal, and I will win. Now on to our regularly scheduled blog post.

I haven’t reported on my girlie girl adventures since my September 22 post, where I attempted to be an alluring vixen while falling out of my dress and pulling a necklace out of the arm hole. The truth is there hasn’t been much to report since winter has set in. While I have made a commitment to being more of a girlie girl, I did not commit to being a frozen one. I see the young ones out there climbing snowbanks in their high-heeled boots, dresses, and bare legs, and I wish them all the best of luck. I’m confident that my new long underwear is positively racy, especially when layered under my snow boots and ski pants. Oh, yeah, don’t you worry, I’m smokin’ hot.

I thought I would have to wait for spring to pick up my girliness pursuits until I found myself chatting with my coworkers and I realized I could bring my girlie girl ambitions inward, or rather underward. We were discussing bras, you know, as one does at work, and the sheer number of colors they owned to match their outfits revealed to me this: a superior girliness honed to near perfection by 40 plus years on this earth. It also revealed to me my own bra bias. Somewhere along the way of being married for 20 years and having a kid, I assumed those pretty bras were for young ones only. Or maybe I couldn’t see the point of spending a gazillion dollars on something that was just going to get spit up on, drooled on, and yanked at, and that was just the interaction with the kid. And so, I became a woman with old lady bras. Solid white with support, god help me. Thus re-educated, I renewed my commitment to girliness, and with gravity snuggling up against me a bit too closely, I took the, uh, plunge into the world of brightly colored bras.

I’m easily overwhelmed by many choices, but I also I knew I had to start in a store because I needed to try these things on. Sizes in women’s clothing vary from brand to brand and so mean diddly squat. With grit and determination, I headed into the “intimates” section of the closest store to my house, Target.

This is not for the intimately faint of heart.

It had been awhile since I had spent quality time in these Labyrinthian isles, and I was unprepared for the uniformity of what I can only describe as the matching snack bowl design of all the bras in the place. Seriously, rows and rows of hanging bowls. While I was grappling with that, it occurred to me that these snack bowls were only possible with serious padding. My gut reaction was the re-opening of an old wound. Before the snack bowls fashion, padded bras were only found among the more modest sized bras. I’ve never been big, and I resented the fact that fashion and society informed me I needed to supplement what I had with padding. However peering through the stacks of snack bowls, I could see we’d evolved, if you can call it that, to a kind of egalitarian place where all women were being told how their boobs should look in a shirt. Perfectly padded, smooth, and shaped.

I didn’t last very long before the snack bowl thing started to freak me out, so I backed away slowly and retreated home, where I ransacked my underwear drawer. I finally unearthed two older, but hardly used bras, in black and beige. They were from a time before I had gained weight, so they actually fit again. I had been granted a small reprieve.

Emboldened by black and beige, I threw fitting caution to the wind and decided my next assault on the intimates section would be online. At least I could control the number of snack bowl views per page and maybe there would be some non-snack bowl choices. I started circling the internet like a vulture searching for its next meal. I landed on Victoria’s Secret because of dim memories of going there with my college roommates during big sales. It turned out to be far worse— a 1,000 more styles, still all snack bowls, and these came with bewildering  names. There’s the T-shirt bra that is supposed to be invisible under a T-shirt, but as it looks like all the other bras, how it’s invisible escaped me. Even more confusing was the push up plunge bra—am I being pushed up or plunged? Then to add to the matrix, each of the styles comes with “coverage” options. I guess sort of like insurance, but even more baffling: full, demi, unlined (but all those models looked like they were 12—we seem to have reversed our societal padding norms). I needed a spreadsheet to keep track of this stuff.

Now where was I? Oh right, pretty colors! When I finally came to, I understood the easiest way to sort through this infinity of bowls: price. 80 percent of pretty bras cost a gazillion dollars and the prettier they are the more gazillions they cost. So then I became the circling vulture looking for the best deal. In the clearance section I found two bras, purple and animal print and labeled as push up. They looked like all the others, so I plunked down my credit card and clicked “buy.”

About a week later a roomy package thinly disguising snack bowl shapes arrived in my mailbox. When I put them on I realized that the push up part meant there was more padding under the snack bowl than on the top. I guess this is meant to make your boobs tastefully spill out like some period dress from the late 1700s. In any event  the real shape of your breasts is immaterial, or rather safely hidden in the material. The bowls call all the shots and your boobs sit in them obediently, high or low depending on your age. But the seductive, disturbing beauty of it is that all boobs have the same smooth shaped look. Despite this, I didn’t like them at first. I felt like I was a horse hitched up to a snack bowl farming wagon. But my laziness for repackaging and returning mail order items is pretty entrenched, so I decided to suck it up and keep them. After a few outings, I got used to them and was thoroughly seduced by their perfection. That’s when the addiction started. I wanted more colors. I returned to circling the website for more bargains, more colors. T-shirt bras were in the clearance section so I found a blue one and clicked. By the time this one arrived, I was thoroughly broken in by the heavy padding of the push up bra, and so the lighter padding of the T-shirt felt like light a light carriage harness in comparison. I was, pardon the pun, hooked.

Now that I know the T-shirt bras are my thing, my addiction continues to get fed by the tantalizing onslaught of emails I get on a daily basis from Victoria’s Secret. I decided I spent enough on bras only to get lured in by the “Free shipping!” “Buy 2 and get one free!” “2 for $50” and there I was back in the demi T-shirt bra collection, hovering over Tangy Sorbet and Pink Daisy Tie Dye. Click, click. How many is too many? At what point is girliness fully achieved? How do I resist this Siren call to the molded perfection of the snack bowl? Spring and looking outward is my only hope–a return to my girly dresses, accessories, and shoes. Til then, I stare longingly at Neon Citrus and Bright Cherry. There’s still a bit of room in my drawer.

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  1. Like the bras, the consumer culture is meant to push up us and plunge us! I love stories of adventure, as intrepid heroes bushwhack into new landscapes. And yes, I like them black, shades of blue, and my purple with the gray-black lace…yeah. I just wish English had a humorous word of good will to describe that inclination towards the female aesthetics of feeling sexy that was not “girlie”. I get your playful spirit/tone of the word here, I do. But it’s like “panties”: adults should not have to fall back on the word. Neither womanly or ladylike are going to work…sigh. But Bravo!

    1. I do agree with you, but since there is a dearth of feminine words, if I may be so impertinent, I like to think I’m attempting to own the word and make it mine. Girlie girl to me is fun to say and is best used for surface decorations. Underneath the pretty bras is a woman who’s strong and buff from weeks of shoveling and life events-lol! Nonetheless, wordsmiths let’s find a fun feminine word!

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