Breasts are an interesting but often useless part of the human anatomy to own.
My breasts don’t do much at all, they just seem to like hanging out with me. While they don’t do anything much that is useful, I’ve got used to having them around and I would feel strange without them.
Having said that, I think that breasts really are the free riders of the female body. They are probably the part of my body that does the very least in terms of pulling its weight and making a contribution to my body as an overall biological system.
Breasts might get used for breastfeeding for a short burst or so over the course of a woman’s life, if the woman that owns them has children and can breastfeed. But when you think of it, this is such a small period of time in the context of a woman’s lifespan. Most of the time breasts really do just happily free ride.
Of course breasts do have a sexual value. Men seem to like them as an interesting and fun female accessory. They are also located in an easily attainable place which makes them excellent to play with. Breasts possibly also seem even more interesting to men because they are harnessed up and partly concealed by bras most of the time.
This brings me to my next point. For a largely free riding body part, breasts are extremely high maintenance. Breasts require a significant outlay on bras to keep them harnessed over the course of a woman’s life. Females quickly start feeling completely naked when they’re not wearing a bra, because putting a bra on is one of the first things they will automatically do at the start of every day from whenever they start wearing bras until the end of their life. For the men out there reading this, it’s like having to put a family jewels harness on every morning beneath your underwear. Lacy, plain and sporty models are all available, depending on your preference.
Breasts are also an amazingly sensitive area of the body and will insistently demand comfort as well as support. If you don’t give them comfort, they will complain loudly and give you such agony that before you know it you will have trotted back to the shop to shell out more money for another bra. This should be easy enough, but finding a comfortable bra is actually enormously difficult.
Let me be very clear about this, I definitely do not have a low pain threshold. I can cut, burn and bruise myself as I go about my daily business and not even know anything about it until I see blood or notice a large multi-coloured bruise on my leg a few days later. However I have purchased perfectly innocent looking bras in my lifetime that have been unbearably excruciating to wear. These sorts of bras can be inspected in fine detail and still visibly appear completely innocent, even to someone like me who knows how dangerously painful a bra can be.
This is because if there is not enough fabric covering the clasp it will feel like someone is digging a metal poker into your back all day long, or if there is not enough padding over the underwire you will feel like someone is rubbing a hole right through your rib cage. Even bra straps can dig into your skin so much that you feel like you really are wearing a medieval torture device that your torturer is progressively tightening throughout the day. The inescapably awful experience that can be associated with wearing a bra is probably a consequence of the fact that firstly; the breast area is highly sensitive, and secondly; that bras have to be worn for long periods of time each day. It is for this reason that I now always try bras on before I buy them, having learnt through bitter experience to never buy a bra without wearing it first. Luckily I have found that with a bit of persistence I can find comfortable bras in both discount department stores as well as in the more expensive underwear outlets.
I have however had to refine my bra purchasing strategy over the years.
This is because the process of buying bras can in itself also be a mortifying experience.
For some weird reason when you start buying bras, or when you think your breasts might have changed in size, you are supposed to get “fitted” in order to be able to buy the right pair. This involves having a female staff member at a shop bustle into your change room with a tape measure when you are practically naked in order to measure you up and tell you the correct size bra to purchase.
If you are a man and you are reading this try to imagine having a male shop assistant take measurements around your naked bum when you are attempting to buy a pair of jocks.
I am an intensely private person and as a result getting fitted for bras is about as appealing to me as getting lined up in front of a firing squad and shot. I even avoid specialty bra/lingerie stores because these kinds of stores sometimes have pushy saleswomen who seem keen to enter your cubicle every few seconds even when you are naked from the waist up, or who keep coming back to talk to you from the other side of the curtain every half second or so. I’d much rather go to one of the larger stores where none of the staff give a shit about whether you’ve found what you were looking for or not. Here I can try bras on in blissful peace and quiet.
Personally I have found that the above strategy is the best way for me to navigate the murky waters of bra shopping. I also think that being fitted for a bra is completely unnecessary, because I know what fits me and what doesn’t. In the same way it would be completely unnecessary for men to be “fitted” when they go to buy a pair of budgie smugglers, as they are quite capable of working out whether the underwear fits them or not.
In addition, because I was an excessively late developer, I’m used to having to try different size bras in order to get one that fits anyway. My breasts took a number of years to get to the size they settled upon. Thankfully they did settle upon a particular size, as it would be a bit disconcerting if they had continued markedly increasing or decreasing in size year in year out. Personally I don’t pay much attention to whether the bra is an A cup or an E cup, I just look for something that looks like it’d be around my size. Every woman’s breasts are of course completely unique anyway. My breasts are me size, and as they’ve hung out with me for so long, I’ve just had to damn well get used to them.
© Annemaree Jensen 2017