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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Models and the Alphabet

Menfolk: you may not understand this one, but you’re welcome to read it!

I’m differently endowed than many in the bust department. Whether it’s a curse or a blessing; depends on opinion. At 46 years old a plus-size bra size that cannot be found in stores is both essential and difficult to find. Braless is something that ended at 11 years old and probably could have, should have, earlier because I never wore a training bra or even double A, I was an A at 11.

For the past 15+ years I’ve worn one style and only that style of bra. It was an excellent bra for me, fit and supported well, was comfortable. There was a Bra World store near where I lived in Michigan which is where I discovered that wonderful bra and they actually had it in my size. I was a regular customer because it was the only place I’d ever been able to by my size “off the rack.” Unfortunately, smaller sizes were more easily found in lingerie shops and a handful of women who needed the larger sizes weren’t enough to keep the business going. My friends who went in with me told me that they were an expensive shop, but they were the only place I could get bras!

My bras were priced in the $30-40 each range in the mid-90s and I waited for a good sale when I needed new bras and stocked up. When Bra World closed, I turned to catalogs and then the internet to find that one style that was worth every penny of its price to me. I had a site that I got my bras from on the Internet and my style bookmarked. At the end of last year it was time to replenish my bra supply. I stock up every couple years. My bra, the style I’d worn since before I finished college, had been discontinued.

When I went to my bookmark, the site offered two different styles from the same brand that were supposed to be comparable. I ordered a couple of each, figuring the same brand and a comparable style should have a similar fit. NO WAY! One style mashed my breasts against my chest with leftovers spilling out of the cups all the way around! The other style fit but funneled “the girls” into a 1980s Madonna shape. Those ones were returned; all 4 of them.

So now I am searching for a new bra. Given that my size is still not one you find in stores, the internet is my bra mall. This morning I had to laugh, then almost cry. I did a search for plus-size bras. I found a bra on sale for only $19…but it was only available for $19 n a C-cup. Then there were few like this one:

Plus size, really?  Plus what?
Wacoal Inspiration Underwire Bra

In a search for plus-size bras? The model doesn’t look like a plus-size anything and I have to wonder how many pins were used in the photo session; this bra doesn’t come in anything smaller than a D cup. That’s NOT a D-cup in that photo!

I did a paper about images of women in advertising for my Women’s History class in college in 1997. In that paper I talked about the plus-size women’s clothing industry and the lack of plus-size models in advertising and catalogs. About how the images created unrealistic representations of the clothing and it was not only false advertising, but detrimental to self-image of their customers; bad business. It’s a decade and a half since I wrote that paper and there are more plus-size models in larger women’s clothing advertising but that demeaning Madison Avenue image of women isn’t gone yet. I’m not even going to try that bra pictured above because even if the model is wearing the smallest size available I have no idea what size to buy. If that’s a D, what am I, a Q?? David had suggested that maybe it was a bra for plus-size women but with average to small breasts, but  that's not a plus size models and again, the smallest size is a D; still doesn't work.

Not all of the larger-sized bras are modeled on small, skinny women. I just find the ones like that to be misleading and frankly, insulting. I realize that a special size that has to be ordered cannot be photographed to replace actually trying it on, but at least provide an image that has some semblance to reality. I won’t even try a “plus-size” bra that’s not modeled on a plus-size model or a model with plus-size cups

A much better representation of a plus size bra
Underwire Lace Top Full Support Bra by Aviana®

There are a few that I think I want to try based on realistic photos and descriptions of what they might look and fit like, but I’ll order just one of the style to be returned or to order more after I try it on. I still just find the gross misrepresentations frustrating as my struggle to replace 20 years of support.


Carla said...

I finally gave up and went to an Intimacy shop that I had seen on Oprah when the bra lady came by. Wow, I wore an E. They said the band size needed to be tighter but I have asthma and prefer it not to be so tight - I do need to breathe.

I bought 2 of the underwires and I hate underwires but it sure was amazing to wear such a nice bra instead of the utilitarian ones I had been wearing.

As a result, I pretty much have to order mine because the E cup is so hard to find. Even online.

Don't give up. Good luck in your search.

Janice's footsteps said...

I absolutely hate buying a new bra I hate the way there isn't a thing even remotely pretty for large busts and that we have to pay so much more for so much more discomfort. If you find anything on the worthy side please share, the genie bra/wonder bra was the biggest joke of the bra world I gave them to my daughter while she was nursing because they stretch while the milk was coming in but that was all they were good for I am so pleased to see other women suffering the same dilemma not that I wish discomfort on anyone but I feel better for you post :]

Edna B said...

It's good to know that others share my thoughts about bras. I too have a problem with advertising that shows a skinny young thing wearing soemthing that is supposed to be made for a Plus sized person.

As for those "Ah" bras, how do you get into them to find the "ah" part?

You have a great day, hugs, Edna B.