I have worn an A-cup bra since I started wearing bras. That is, if I wear a bra at all. I am a card-holding member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, and by card-holding member, I mean I have small breasts. I have never had a man look at my chest instead of my eyes when speaking to me. Not even in one of those push-up bras that adds two cup sizes. I have been proud to brag about the fact that if I don’t have a sports bra, I can go for a run — a long run — without being smacked in the face by my boobs, or even experiencing any mild discomfort.
“I wear a bra to create the illusion of breasts,” I say. It’s true — most of the bras I own are chock-full of padding. A lot of my work clothes don’t fit right if I don’t have a padded bra on. I’m all hips. Big rib-cage, moderate stomach, small boobs. Ain’t no thang.
For the past few months, I’ve been dating a guy who proclaims that he “loves my boobs”. I’ve laughed at him — not in a hateful way, but in a “that’s kind of unbelievable” way. “I don’t have boobs,” I’ll try hard not to say to him. (I don’t want to gaslight him, after all.) I’ve never been the kind of girl a guy who is into boobs goes for. I’m more of a leg girl. It’s kind of my aesthetic. I’m more Audrey Hepburn than Marilyn Monroe. I’d be described as “willowy” instead of “buxom”. Most of the men who have dated me have kind of enjoyed my body as a side to my mind, anyway. I’m the bright, sarcastic type. Definitely not the girl with the tits.
My entire world was thrown upside-down last week when I strolled into Dillard’s on a whim to buy a new bra, and upon asking my size, the saleslady corrected me.
“An A?” she said, confounded. “No, that can’t be right. You’re at least a B. Probably a C.”
She proceeded to find me pretty lacy things in a C-cup as I followed her around the store in a daze.
I was floored. Flabbergasted. Dumbfounded. I didn’t really even know what to do. It was as if someone had just told me that my parents weren’t really biologically related to me; the sun actually does revolve around the earth; everything I knew to be true was false.
The powers that be do not generally make pretty lacy things in an A-cup, if you were wondering. Especially not a 36A, which is what I’ve been most of my adult life. I suppose the manufacturers just assume that a girl with an A-cup and a rib cage that big around can’t possibly want to wear something lacy or interesting. Why bother? Or, maybe I’m just really so oddly-shaped that they don’t make fancy bras for such weird girls.
But there I was in the dressing room, with three or four lacy C-cup bras, vehemently texting my girlfriends to try and save me from a spiral into nothingness because suddenly I was not who I thought I was. (None of these girlfriends was available for comment, btw. And my boyfriend did not appear to understand how important and life-changing this was. Of course, there was an important baseball game on. But still. No one would respond to me and anchor me back into reality.)
I tried each bra on four or five times and just stood in staring at myself in the mirror. Breathing. Adjusting. Staring.
For the record, I am definitely NOT a C-cup. Not even in the French brands.
But the B-cup she brought me did fit. I ended up buying it.
I’m questioning everything now. My entire lingerie line-up is on the chopping block. Am I a B-cup? Will my A-cup girlfriends demand I hand in my IBTC card? Will men start to look at my cleavage instead of my eyes when they talk to me? Are B-cups actually still considered small? I’ve heard they are, but I’d never really thought so, seeing as I was an A-cup, and the heft of a B-cup always seemed impossibly far away.
What else do I not know? Who am I, really?
I’m sure for most women, this would be a revelation that would bring forth a sigh of relief — finally, knowing what bra size you really are! Now you can go forth and conquer!
But for me, it has upended the foundation of the self. I’m afraid of all my lingerie. I’ve stuffed it all in a drawer and I may just never wear any ever again.