Last month, I participated in an event called Brava! Billed as “a night of memoir about the place of bras in our lives,” the benefit was hosted by The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY, and raised funds and bras for the women at The YWCA of the Greater Capital Region. You can read about the women who conceived of the event in this article from the Albany Times-Union.
The night featured poems, essays and a song all written on the subject of brassieres. All audience members were asked to bring a new bra as part of the admission fee. At the start of the event the organizers announced they had already collected five hundred new bras. Several of these were used by artist Sharon Bates to create a unique sculpture display for the reading.
In addition to being an amazing fundraiser for a worthy cause, the event marked the first time I submitted an essay to a judged event. I wrote the following essay, and was thrilled when I received notice the jurors had selected it to be included in the reading. I shared an amateur recording of my reading on my personal Facebook page, but the video was not captioned and was not truly accessible to all my friends. I promised I would share the piece on my blog, so here it is. A link to the video is posted below if you want to hear me read the essay. I think the captioning worked, but to be safe I am including the text of the essay here. It is not a professional video, but the audio is clear and that is what matters.
And just in case you are still completing your holiday shopping, please remember your local women’s shelter or domestic violence program. They help women in need, women who deserve support in many ways. Consider donating new undergarments to your local shelter. And please, make them colorful and fun – not just boring white or beige.
Just The Bra for This
My older sisters and cousins laugh when they explain how they all knew it was time for them to start wearing a bra. When “the aunts” (my mom and her sisters) gave them hugs and rubbed their backs, surreptitiously checking for the presence of an elastic band, it meant you should be measuring yourself for band and cup size. I don’t remember those hugs. Probably because I can barely remember a time when I didn’t need to wear a bra.
Like most females in my family, I was an early bloomer and began wearing a bra before other girls my age. I come from a line of well-endowed women. I always knew I would be “blessed” in much the same fashion.
Bras were just a necessity. A piece of elastic designed to keep things in place. A required article of clothing which I couldn’t wait to remove at the end of the day.
Things changed when I left college. I started dating and realized I was quite literally sitting under a gold mine. These breasts, which were so inconvenient given my narrow shoulders, were a way to attract attention from men.
Men love cleavage. I am fairly certain there are some scientific studies to support that claim.
With the right bra, I have great cleavage, as I have been told by multiple men – and some women. My cleavage is a wonderful asset. Men notice it. Small chested women envy it.
Once I realized cleavage was a source of power, I recognized the importance of equipping myself with proper tools to achieve the desired effect. Enter the padded push up bra.
Some might think a woman with a size 38D bust might not require a padded push up. Some might be mistaken. Without padding, my bosoms are big and bulbous, but not worthy of more than a glance.
Add the padding and push them up and my cleavage takes shape. Given the right v-neck shirt or dress, men notice my ample breasts instead of my wheelchair.
Oh, who am I kidding? People always notice the chair first. It’s shiny, red and permanently attached to my butt. However, the right bra makes it easier for men to view me as a sexual being.
If you think women who use wheelchairs aren’t sexual, you’re wrong. We crave intimacy and connection as much as our nondisabled peers. We have sex and we like it!
Now I view my bras as more than a requirement. They are essential accessories which play an important role in my daily fashion. Each day my bras are called upon to complete a vital task. My bras offer support and shape to my torso, and provide a boost of confidence which I imagine ambulatory women find in a killer pair of shoes.
I treat my bras with the respect they deserve. I clasp the band together before placing them in the wash. My bras are hung on my clothes rack to dry and never go in the dryer. Clothes dryers are mortal enemies to maintaining proper fit and shape. Nothing ruins underwire faster.
No longer do I limit myself to boring white. I wrap myself in color – red, pink, blue, magenta, peach and black. I have special occasion bras which I save for particular dresses or blouses. I can’t wear just any old bra with my little black dress. I have to wear the padded orange and black push up with the air pillow inserts; the one which makes my uneven breasts look the same size. If I wear the fuschia gown, I need the minimizer which squashes in the back fat and gives me a smoother finish.
When I was temporarily living with my sister and her family, my nephew once asked, “Mom, how come Aunt Denise’s bras are colorful and yours are only white?” My sister’s former husband agreed that was a fantastic question. I was no longer allowed to hang my bras in the bathroom to dry.
A few years ago I made the mistake of buying a youth large shirt instead of an adult size. I tried it on, realizing my mistake as soon as I attempted to pull it down. The friend who was assisting me lamented at my mistake, fearing I would not be able to wear the top – a killer red shirt with the word “Naughty” spelled in silver sparkles across the chest.
“Don’t worry,” I said calmly. “I have just the bra for this.”