Dressing well up forms the core of a well groomed personality – suave, smart and classy. However, dressing up is often misconstrued to be focused around only our outer wear. All the focus is given on the myriad aspects of the fabric, colour, feel, and fall of the garment you are wearing, matching up to the occasion – work wear, formal wear, casual wear, ethnic wear etc.
However, do we give the same amount of focus on our inner wear? Beyond comfort and hygiene, there are varied nuances associated in choosing your inner wear. Specifically, for women, when it comes to choosing a good bra to support our breasts.
Ah, did I mention the taboo word?
Why is it that the hands shuffle the TV remote when there is a cleavage display or when a sanitary napkin ad comes up on the screen? Why is it that we do not see the same discomfort when there are hot muscular abs or the VIP or Rupa underwear ads? But somehow breasts become too hot to handle.
Breasts suffer from this grave objectification in our society. And bras by the virtue of being associated with breasts are only viewed as objects of sexual appeal.
Just like the placement of lingerie section in the farthest corner in every departmental store, bra-education and breast health are the least of our priorities. Not only it is of lower priority, there are innumerable misconceptions around the same. For instance, the common misnomer and even fear looming around underwire bras being uncomfortable and a cause of pain (and the occasional unsavory association of bras with breast cancer).
What is systematically omitted is that this pain essentially originates due to the underwire sitting on the breast tissue instead of around it. We are bombarded with loads of misinformation. Most of the advice on the subject revolves around the ‘ideal aesthetics’ asking you to ensure that your bra makes you perky.
You seldom get real advice on how support and fit should be the actual qualifiers for quality intimate wear.
So how do you look for these qualifiers?
Here are some of the basic ones:
- The band: The band of the bra should be parallel to the ground. It should not ride up on your back.
- The cups: The cups should encase your breast tissue well. There shouldn’t be any bulges from the top or the side. Most women find bras uncomfortable simply because they are in cups smaller than they should be. And because there isn’t enough room inside your bra, you either end up feeling all squished or spill out.
- The underwire: It should lie around your breast like a frame where the breast attaches to the body.
- The straps: Only 10% of the support needs to come from the shoulder straps. When the band is not as supportive as it should be, the shoulder straps end up overcompensating leaving the wearer with shoulder pain and a slouching posture.
The right bra is like your second skin. It should assimilate so well that you should never be able to feel if it is there!
The cut, the style, the fabric properties (stretch, rigidity, reaction to moisture) can all be matched to your unique requirements. It is a lot like matchmaking. If you run into #SeemaTaparias of this world , choices will be forced on you from the crack at the top of the trial room door or you will be told to fix yourself.
Choose not to wear the wrong bra. Choose to invest in your breast. Choose to know your body. Choose to self-examine once a month – not only to look for abnormalities but to familiarize yourself with what your normal breasts look and feel like.
In my line of work, as a lingerie fit expert, I work with women of all shapes and sizes every day. And one thing I find common among all is how they constantly feel inadequate in their own body and with themselves in the larger sense. Some women find their breasts too small, not enough to create that coveted decolletage and some find them too large, that they are often shamed for putting theirs out on display.
And, this is the most challenging yet the most exciting part of what I do, making women fall in love with their bodies again!
How, you may wonder? Let me walk you through it.
Women I generally work with recognize themselves as busty, curvy or plus-sized. I also work with young mothers. When they reach out to me, they have generally been slapping a bra on because, well, they must. With their shoulders reeling under the pressure of their bra straps, backs hunching, hiding in loose baggy clothes – most new mothers feel underwhelmed with their lives. During the fitting, they learn about bras, their breast profile, what works for them and why.
More importantly, they are introduced to roomier (with cup sizes up to O) bras fitted so well and supportive, as if these bras were tailored precisely for their comfort. When they discover their new size, they stare at me in disbelief for a while and admire their oh-so-serendipitously-found waistline in the mirror for a very long time. When we are done, they walk away standing taller, more confident and comfortable in their bodies, feeling lighter on their feet, looking two sizes smaller, their body feeling loved and breasts well supported.
We all dress on the outside according to societal norms, company policies, people’s wishes/rules/permission. But when we dress on the inside, close to our body, we do it for ourselves!
If you are a woman who has moved from your usual black, white and beige to wild colors, animal prints, neon pinks and greens, it is because you have found that safe place to express yourself.
And if you have not, it is time to choose YOU.
Born and bred in Delhi, Aayushi is a Thamizh marumagal (married in a Tamil household), a life-science scientist turned entrepreneur and a mom. Through her venture Bands & Cups, she aspires to turn a woman’s worst enemy into her breast friend and make the hush-hush conversations on women’s health a chai time talk.
*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*