Sunday, June 29, 2008

You said breasts.

Published June 29, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I remember one day in a high school English class my teacher asked if there was anyone in the room who felt they had endured more than their fair share of trials in life. I raised my hand high and without a flinch. Thousands of dollars of therapy and a full gratitude journal later, I've seen the error of my 16 year old thinking and have learned to be grateful for everything life has thrown my way.

Well, there is one glaring exception.

This is one of those columns I write as quickly as I can because I’m on a roll and don’t want to think of another topic. I promise you that once I hit send and this sucker is on its way through cyberspace to my editor’s desk, I’m going to sit at my computer for hours wondering if I really sent it. (That happened with something I wrote back in February...a column about a yearly checkup at the gynecologist’s office in which I was too skittish to write the word gynecologist.)

I’ll put any attempts at skittishness aside with one word: breasts. Yes, I’m giggling like an 11 year old boy who just came across that word in the dictionary. I just typed the word breasts and someone’s going to print it in the newspaper for thousands of people to read just because I typed it. I’m a 31 year old woman who’s nursed 5 children without a second thought and somehow, I get all silly writing a column about breasts. Breasts, breasts, breasts! (An elderly gentleman in Dixie Downs just collapsed in his kitchen. Someone go help him, will ya?)

Breasts are funny things. No matter how much I try to believe I don’t care about the size of them, well, I can’t help but care about the size of them. No, I have not fallen prey to the fashion industry "ideal" of the anorexic ectomorph with the mystifyingly large and firm double D’s nature certainly never gave her. I just want my clothes to fit.

You see, there’s this thing that happens to a woman when she gains a little (or a lot) of weight. Her bra "cup size" goes up. Bras are sized by number and letter. The letter represents the cup size or relative size of the actual breast. (Am I the only one who thinks the cups in bras look more like bowls and should be titled such?)

So what’s my problem? I have gained a considerable amount of weight since that day in English class. My breasts? They haven’t budged. I am, I suppose, the complete opposite of the strangely disproportionate fashion model. I’ve got a rack to fit their tiny bodies, and they’re all walking around with the bosom every clothing manufacturer in the world assumes I have.

If it seems a silly thing to consider a trial in life, just try looking down the front of your wedding dress and realizing you could fit a small starter home in the space you’re not filling out...and that’s WITH a padded push-up bra. It’s a problem I’ve known well for far too many years now. If I’m shopping for plus sized tops (which I always am), I can count on a far too roomy chest and the discomfort that goes with it.

I’ve had many of my full figured friends tell me that being on the other side of things is no picnic either. They’re quick to tell me the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the bra. To hear them tell it, having a large chest makes fitting into most tops very difficult and keeping things modest nearly impossible. Add to that underwire that pinches, shoulder straps that dig, and back pain that can be debilitating, and I begin to wonder if I didn’t get the better deal after all.

Not wanting to continue cursing the gods for my brand of mammary misfortune, I’m putting these experiences in my gratitude journal tonight in the hopes that I can finally check this bra bitterness off my list. I may also include a little bit of info I gleaned from the National Geographic. Did you know many women in African countries have no bras at all let alone shirts that don’t fit them? I’m trying to decide if I feel bad for them or not.

I kinda think they’re on to something...