Friday, July 20, 2012

over 40 and gone polka dotty

Olivia and I went bra and bathing suit shopping yesterday.  How interesting for a 45 year old woman who is approaching the end of her reproductive (i.e. seductive) years to run this errand with an 11 ½ year old girl who is approaching the beginning of hers.  We needed the biggest and the smallest bras, the biggest and the smallest bathing suits. 

With that, I shouldn't say more about what Olivia needed. Considering she nearly decapitated me when I said the word "underwear" too loudly in the dressing room, I feel certain that advertising her intimate purchases on the internet might cause her to melt into a puddle of seething mortification not to be forgotten in this lifetime.

Conversely, I have no problem embarrassing myself.

The shopping for me went something like this: 

Me: "Oooh, this is cute!"  

I toyed with a hot little pink polka-dotted number.

Olivia: "Mom, that says JUNIORS! OMG, you can't wear that!"

"Oh.  Woops.  But wait, why can't I have polka dots?"

"You're too old.  You're so weird." 

So we strolled around the corner to where the "women" shop - you know, us old and fleshy nonbeings who, apparently, have an aversion to color and anything pretty at all.

"Mom, Look!" Olivia giggled as she fit her entire head into a beige double-D cup as if it were a furless aviator cap pulled snugly down around her ears.  Then she remembered that she has graduated from playful child to awkward pubescent tween, at which point she threw the offending garment at the rack, shuttered in a heeby jeeby kind of way, then bolted across the aisle as if it had bitten her with its forebodings of coming womanhood.

After collecting herself, she held up another hefty specimen and admonished, "You cannot wear this."

Hmmm.  Cute and sexy is weird.  Full and frumpy is gross.  My mom-body doesn't fit into the one-dimensional notions of  femininity she sees every day in the media.  Big surprise.

"Where are all the polka dots?!" I asked, ignoring her comments.  We checked the other aisles hopefully, but only found rows and rows of white and beige. 

Practical.  Comfortable.  Supportive

Fine.  I admit I want those things, but I fail to see how a little pattern interferes with the more functional aspects of underwear. 

I meandered back to the Juniors, musing to myself, "Doesn't 'Junior' mean teenager? Why are we sexifying bras for teenagers?" 

I answered myself, "Maybe it's just meant to be cute and fun.  You know, slumber party fodder." 

Standing there surveying the colorful selection, I decided to try a few on.  Just call me crazy like a fox.  I don't actually need "the biggest bra."  I just said that earlier for effect.  I'm more of a C cup if you must know the nitty gritty, and Juniors do dare to go that high (do they think D and F cup girls don't like dots?).   

The blatant injustice of the drab women's section helped Olivia envision me in, egad, a pattern.  I think she saw it as the lesser of two evils, and after all, no one would really know except her and daddy.

I tried on the Junior bras, and guess what?  Most of them were of the push up variety.  They even had labels to that effect.  They put a little steroid in the push up too.  Even with my relatively slight bosom, I felt sure I could not wear them without banging my chin on my cleavage when I chewed.

It didn't help that I've never been a big fan of showing cleavage.  I think it looks a bit like an extra butt encroaching on an otherwise perfectly civilized conversation.  I suppose men like seeing a butt no matter where it's hanging out, but regardless of whether or not you find cleavage appealing, I think we can agree it isn't "cute" in a slumber party kind of way, right? 

So they had sexified the Junior bras after all.   

Forty-somethings get 3 hooks in thick beige spandex.  Teenagers get purple push up with strategic padding? 

This is all wrong.  No need to explain why we shouldn't eroticize teens.  But a quick word about 40-somethings.   I know I said I was approaching the end of my seductive years, but "approaching" is the key word there.  It ain't over till it's over, right?  Who's to say when the real end will arrive?  Older people don't seem in a rush to disclose that information.

Personally, I think women my age have a lot going for them.  We have  knowledge, experience, nerve, and skill in the bedroom (I make it sound like a trapeze act, but don't let your imaginations run away with you!).  Perhaps the problem is that we also have expectations.  We know what we want and how we want it.  Do men feel intimidated by that?  If they do, I don't think dressing naive teens up in alluring underwear is the answer.  

I suppose the rest of the problem is that we also know when we want it (as in, NOT every day.  Or let's be honest folks, not even every week, or month for some).  But hey, when the time comes, we know how to make it count. And perhaps some sexy underwear would help the time come more often!

So I found a few "Junior" bras that were not of the push-up variety and brought them home.  This morning, feeling all young and new-womanish, I stepped out of the shower and donned my gay apparel. 

Apparently, bra executives have invested in some new lift-and-separate technology because, as I was getting dressed in the rest of my clothes, I noticed I kept bumping my arms into myself.  As in, my breasts seemed to be a lot closer to my armpits than they used to be.  I hadn't noticed that at the store.

So now I'm walking around in my cute polka dots trying to feel all young and sexy with my arms held stiffly out to my sides to make room for my rearranged appendages. 

I guess I should be happy that there's no chance of cleavage! But really, I just resent how the underwear aisle so narrolwy defines women as teen/attractive or not-teen/frumpy.  There's a lot of gray area in there.  Let the young girls have fun, but in a modest way (will Olivia really be asking for a zebra striped push up bra in a year or two?).  Meanwhile, we women need hot pink bras with 3 hooks, polka dots on 2 inch straps, and double-D and F cups in prints.  And personally, I could go for a cute bra that positions my breasts somewhere on the front of my body where they belong!


  1. This is so funny! Well, the 40+ sentiments.... I can totally relate. The whole sexifying of little girls is pretty messed up. A while ago I was looking in Target for training bras (for my nine-year-old, believe it or not). I couldn't find the old-fashioned ones I remembered, only the padded sexy ones. Horrifying. Later I ended up finding the old kind at a different store. Sage isn't really interested in any kind right now, which is fine by me. She's growing up fast enough as it is!

    1. thanks jennifer. i agree, the girls grow up fast enough as it is - no need to rush them along with padded bras!

  2. I feel the same way! I'm not feeling the age difference yet, but it sure is noticeable as far as sizing goes!
    What I have noticed in stores is that clearly if you are a C or under, you MUST be a teenager, and for some reason you will want gaudy zebra stripes, rhinestones, and push-ups. (I didn't when I was a teen)
    If you are a C/D, congrats, you are a woman! You get the sexy stuff; nice rich colors, flattering cuts. But if (god forbid) You go above D territory, you have entered Beige-Land! You now only have options in salmon or blinding-white, the straps are all two inches thick, and everything is hideous with a little bow in the middle.
    Should you find supply lacking for non-pushups for your daughter, there are a great number of options online that are more age- and taste-appropriate (for the both of you!) :)

    1. ah yes, Beige-Land--I have been there! Bra manufacturers definately think they've got us figured out. too bad they don't. I will check on line! tx!