My body has endured the crazy shifts that come with bearing two enormous children and losing most of the baby weight they brought with them. And it’s sad that until recently I had been wearing the same bra size, a size that was woefully inaccurate but I was too lazy, confused and then even more lazy to correct. I don’t know why I haven’t updated that number until now, even though the voice in my head says, “WHY AREN’T YOU ACTING LIKE A GROWN-UP, RAMONA?!” to which I say, “I don’t know! I learned all my beauty tips from my mom’s copy of Color Me Beautiful which was very confusing because I grew up on an island and how was I supposed to what a ‘winter’ was when we never had snow?”
So I went to the Nordstrom downtown armed with a Please Help Me face (furrowed brow, eyes squinting–a human version of a homeless person’s “Anything helps!” cardboard sign) until a beautiful sales woman stopped and smiled, “Can I help you?” And I whispered to her, “Could I get someone to help me with a bra fitting?” This is the same whisper I’ve used at the doctor’s office when I wasn’t sure where to put the pee cup sample they requested (to all those lost souls in doctor’s office bathrooms using your smart phones to google “Where do I put the pee cup?!” the answer is: leave it in the bathroom in the metal-looking cabinet. Someone will get it on the other side. No need to surreptitiously steal away to the receptionist! The more you know!)
The sales woman had gorgeous hair in tiny braids that was held up in a large bun and somehow it made me feel more at ease that she was a woman of color and not a ditz with a high-pitched voice who would likely share at the next team meeting how she had to file for workman’s comp after dealing with me.
A few minutes later we were both in a softly-lit dressing room with a tape measure around my rib cage. Her voice was still soft as she asked me about the type of bra I liked. She treated me with kid gloves, asking questions I will happily field like, “Have you lost weight?” She brought me about twenty bras to try on, from softly padded to a bra so thick with batting it was like I was smuggling two heads of cabbage out of a grocery store and figured where to store the goods.
But she was incredibly patient and asked me how the bras felt. She gave me some advice on what I should be looking for because of my body type. And I bought some beautiful, correctly-sized bras and spent more on bras than I have spent on bras ever but it was worth it.
I’ve never had professional help before when bra-shopping. My mom bought me my first bra when I was 10 years old, in the pre-teen section of JC Penney’s. I had said, “I think it’s time to buy a bra, Mom,” to which she sighed but agreed. That first bra looked like a spandex trebuchet that snapped in front. I was developing physically but that didn’t mean I had the maturity to handle the transition because I snapped and unsnapped that closure like the annoying person in the office (me!) who can’t leave a loud, clickable pen alone.
And I left with my Nordstrom bag and newly-acquired intimates inside. It took all my strength not to high-five strangers and yell, “It’s okay if you don’t look at me in the eyes!”