Breasts, Bras and Feelings

For most of my adult life, I have been on a quest to find the perfect bra. In my head, this bra is custom made to fit each of my ladies just right. It is pretty but not gaudy, colorful but not clownish. Its straps offer a bit of a lift without digging into my shoulder blades. The straps are also perfectly sized; not so wide that I will be mistaken for a nursing  mother(unless I am a nursing mother at the time) and not so thin that I look like I have snake tongues running down my shoulderblades.

I have been failed by so many bras and dreamt about this super one for so long that at one point not so long ago, I decided to make it myself. I decided that I would start Uganda’s first premium bra making company. It would be called Apenyo loves Boobs inc. I would open a workshop where women of all shapes and sizes could walk in and custom make their bras, choosing the fabric, straps and accessories.

This dream is paralyzed now. I have become disillusioned. See, I can count the number of times I have worn a bra in the last 28 days. Why do you wear a bra?

My chest, like the chests of many other girls, began to do strange things when I turned 11. I was alarmed and prayed that these stones under my blouse would go away and leave me be. I didn’t want to be like those womanly looking P.7 girls! I didn’t want to start swishing my bottom and smiling with boys.  For me, that’s what breasts represented.

The minute they noticed the mischief that hormones were wrecking on my chest, my female relatives started to give advice. One cousin told me to get a bra immediately, or else my breasts would “fall”.

I was told by an aunt to stay away from all bras and boobtubes, because they would make my breasts fall!

A fear of “falling” breasts was planted in my mind and no number of young talk pull-outs on the subject was able to convince me that heavy breasts, breasts that sat low were normal.

On to the next couple of years, nature and genetics took their course and I got the pair I have and love now. But then? I was ashamed. Why didn’t they sit high like mighty oranges?

When movies, mags and porn came into the picture, I became convinced that breasts were not breast-enough unless they were as large as melons and as high as possible.

So I ask again. Why do you wear bras?  

I wear bras for support. I cannot do yoga, jog, jump or even walk swiftly down a flight of stairs without my breasts bouncing around like chuzzle balls.

I wear bras because I am too used to seeing myself looking a certain way in certain clothes and am still too uncomfortable to just go without.

A good bra can make you feel amazing, but what niggles at me is the root of this feeling. What drives me to feel confident when my cleavage is under my neck?

I asked singer and poet, Ife Piankhi for her thoughts are about bras and she said, “Growing up my mum would stress the importance of getting the right size of bra so that they truly support. I was measured for my back and cup size but I don’t see many women in Africa doing that. Since I came here,  I have not found one that is ideal so at times I don’t wear them. There is a teacher by the name of Dr Phil Valentine who stated once that droopy breasts or breasts that hang are the honour of motherhood, I have breast fed 4 children and when I heard that it gave me the confidence to go bra less at times because I don’t care any more if they hang down because I know I have nourished my children. Of course like most women I’d like to change something about them but through my Afrikan Yoga practice I stay in pretty good shape and I’m happy with my body image.”

If you are comfortable with bras, then I echo the words of Ife’s mom. Go have your chest and cup measured. It is painful to see so many well endowed Ugandan ladies squeezing their breasts into bras that are sizes too small.

I was very excited when I found an article on Counselheal.com that quotes Researcher Prof. Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besançon in eastern France as saying “Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.” Click to read more–>BOOBS

Am I going to stop wearing bras completely? Not yet. Probably never. Baby steps. I am actively working on killing my biases and widening my world view to include all kinds of beauty. I mean, my breasts are big, so they curve and dip.  I am not going to go about life being ashamed of my genes or of gravity and neither should you.

However, now that I have proved my point, that I can still look like a million bucks and more without a bra (I mean, 28 days), I am more and more considering following the advice of Ife’s mom and getting (or making) myself a couple of well fitting bras.