Friday, July 30, 2010

Lady in Red

My red dress came in the mail today. I love it and hate it at the same time. Mostly I hate it because I need to alter it and 90+ of the reviews of the dress say the damn thing fits like a glove. Once it's tailored and hemmed, it'll be a showstopper. As for right now, it makes me look like a little girl playing dress-up in mommy's clothes. The main issues are my height and my bust, and the lack of both.

I have a complicated relationship with the girls. Generally, I like them. They're small enough I don't actually need a bra for support. I only wear it for shape and modesty. Sometimes I don't bother. I can buy the cute bras without worrying about said support or lift. They're not going anywhere. They're as high as they were when I was 20. I like the shape of 'em. No complaints, right?

When you're a small chested woman, you don't feel terribly womanly. Even with all these advantages (bralessness or cute bras and no sagging) you still miss out on things like cleavage, and more importantly... feeling truly like a woman. Men don't look at you as much, you feel inadequate when you can't fill out a special top or dress, and all around you larger chests are celebrated and praised and considered the ideal.

90% of the time I don't let it bother me. Most of the time I focus on what's good about my breasts. I happily think about how they won't be acquainted with my navel when I'm 60. But I'm not 60. I'm 27 and I'm missing out on something fun.

And for all the larger chested women I know who've talked about it, I can tell for all the complaints, they wouldn't trade places with me. I can hear a ring of the pride in their voices. Because there's something inherently sexy about even the most inconveniently large breasts. I see the DD+ club comparing complaints over who has it worse, but under it all it's a pissing contest. When those comments are made in my direction, I know the question is really, "Aren't my breasts big?" I know some women who genuinely want a reduction and have even gone through with it. When you get dents in your shoulders, you have a legit complaint. But I can tell the difference between that and trying to coy about boobie bragging.

There's a woman at my dance class who's often mentioning how much support she needs, and to me. It's like complaining you don't know which vacation house you should summer at this year to someone who rents out a room to live in. I don't understand. Clearly I can't relate. I'm happy for her that she enjoys such bounty up there, but do I really need converse with her about it? I have nothing to offer on the subject. So I reply that I don't need support and only wear bras for aesthetic reasons. (I find that acknowledging my tininess makes these types of women uncomfortable. I don't feel bad about it. Unfortunately, since acquiring this response, it's hard to turn off.)

The kicker is how many women with big breasts like to talk to me about it. Some have gone out of their way to mention it for no apparent reason. Almost like preempting my assumed envy and saying, "It's alright, it's not really all that great." Or maybe it's a way of being smug. Sometimes it feels smug, particularly when the boobs in question are not overly enormous and cannot really be such a nuisance, not when the owner loves showing them off so much.

Sometimes I feel sad when I know women have gotten breast implants. It's like publicly acknowledging an A or B cup's inferiority that had to be corrected. Like there was no way they could be beautiful and this woman just couldn't live like that. We live in a world that sends this message. All my bras save two have padding. And this hasn't been a necessarily conscious effort. They come that way. 9 bras out of 10 have padding, at least they do in the A and B range. Every time I put one on I'm reminded an industry and a culture thinks I'm inadequate the way I am, and by buying and wearing the bra, seems I've decided to agree with them.

I think sometimes to a conversation I had with a close friend of mine in a La Senza, who was shocked to see all the padding in an A-cup bra. "Can't we all just be ourselves?" she asked. Quickly, I replied, "No." And it's true. We can't. Women are walking lies.

We get up in the morning. Our legs and underarms are shaved, our eyebrows tweezed because we're all too hairy. Some women even remove hair from their holiest of holies because nature doesn't know best. We put on makeup because our skin isn't beautiful enough, our lips not red enough, our lashes not long enough. We get our hair coloured because our hair colour isn't right. We put on heels to alter our height and silhouette because it's sexier than being comfortable on flat ground. We put on perfume to mask our natural scent. We wear bras that change the size, shape and lift of our breasts. And then we go shopping and look for things that'll fit our unique body shape and feel like we are the ones who have failed when we don't conform to the shape of a dispensable piece of clothing.

And this is after the feminist revolution and the corset and the girdle.

I posed nude for an art class once. No makeup. No bras, no perfume, no heels, nothing. Just me. For the first time since I started my period, I was just fine the way I was. I got to keep a drawing of myself and I never looked so beautiful or so goddamned free. For the evening, I was liberated.

Monday I take the dress to a tailor.

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