Demi Coverage Reading Roundup

Embrace

It’s been three weeks since I attended a screening for the documentary Embrace, and I thought I’d share my impressions here. First, if you get a chance to see it for $15 or less (some upcoming screenings in Manhattan are $35!), it’s worth it, but only if you think you can engage in conversation with the women around you and enjoy their camaraderie. Otherwise, wait for it on Netflix.

The original screening that I was helping to promote was going to have a panel discussion afterwards. It’s too bad it didn’t sell enough tickets because there was a lot to talk about. Often “body positive” has a one-dimensional feel to it, full of breathless clichés, and I like it when people dig deeper. For instance, as I walked out of the theater on September 19, I heard one woman say, “But I lost 110 pounds.” The movie only focused on the negative aspects of diet, and a Q&A session could have made room for this woman’s experience.

embrace-model

[Read more…]

Daughters in the Dressing Room

As you can guess, I (Darlene) love to talk bras and full bust issues anytime I visit a lingerie store. Sometimes the fitter is simply polite, and other times she turns out to be a recent journalism graduate who is just as passionate about the subject as I am. That’s who I met at Suzette’s Lingerie in 2014, and two years later, Shannon Thomas is finally writing a guest post for us. Shannon describes herself as a “New York City-based writer and bra specialist aiming to change lives one byline and bra strap at a time”.  (Leah will return with another great post for Off the Rack next week.)untitled-102

As a little girl, September was always one of my favorite months. The air was cooling, I could begin wearing my cute cardigans again, and I loved going back-to-school shopping with my mother. You know the usual list: perfectly sharpened Crayola colored pencils, fresh notebooks, and of course crisp clothes for the upcoming semesters. As a bra fitter, I see mothers come into my store with their daughters during back-to-school shopping as well, and I smile from the sweet nostalgia.  About half of the young ladies are in their early to mid teens getting what is their first–but certainly not last–fitting. The other half are young and still waiting for their turn. [Read more…]

Meet Our Newest Writer: Rosalind

Based on my past correspondence with Rosalind, I suspected she would be a perfect match for Hourglassy readers, and when I met her in person last September, I absolutely had to invite her to join the Hourglassy team. When you read today’s post, you’ll realize why I was so overjoyed that she said yes. Her captivating style, love of sewing, nursing bra survivor stories, and experience on both sides of the H-cup divide are some of the reasons you’re going to look forward to her upcoming bi-weekly posts. –Darlene

Let me take you back to middle school, in order to get a full picture of my Adventures in Bra-Wearing…

middle school was so good to us all, wasn't it??

Exhibit A: 8th Grade Dance

I was a bit of a late bloomer. The only reason I started wearing a bra in the 7th grade was because of the inevitable gym class locker room. My mom wanted to shield me from as much teasing as possible, so she loaded me with training bras that my scrawny prepubescent frame clearly did not need. I appreciated them and wore them without complaint, aside from the occasional whining about “not having any boobs”. I desperately wanted to be buxom and voluptuous. My mother and her mother were large-chested, so I knew it could be in the cards for me. I would often stuff my mom’s old bras and parade around the house making jokes about Dolly Parton.

Then, in the summer before I began high school, my chest grew from a barely-there AA, to a solid B/C cup. I had to ask my mom to take me bra shopping three times that summer. I suddenly had the breasts I had been asking for, and I was happy . . . until I realized bras were now uncomfortable, and my breasts didn’t stop growing. I had absolutely zero clue what to do with my breasts.

By the end of my senior year of high school, bra and swimsuit shopping made me cry. I was wearing some horribly uncomfortable 36D bras that my Mom had altered to create smaller bands for me. I had looked up a little bit about bra fitting, just enough to know about “sister sizing”, and thought I would fit a 34DD. I searched for that size only to come up empty handed at every retail store. Looking back, I think I was probably closer to a 28G at the time, but I had no idea that there was such a thing as a band smaller than a 32!

Near the end of my high school days, my Mom came home from a thrift store shopping adventure (I am fairly certain at least 50% of my childhood was spent in thrift shops – I love them) clutching two Fantasie t-shirt bras (you know, this famous one). One was a 32E–a size I had never before heard of–and it fit me so well that I cried!!

I wore that Fantasie 4510 nearly every day for well over a year. When the underwires started poking out, I realized I should really do a Google search on the tag and see if I could find out where to buy another one. Within minutes, I discovered Herroom.com and their wealth of bra fitting and purchasing options. Again, I was so happy that I cried . . . but my tears of joy were quickly replaced by tears of despair once I saw the price tags on most of these lovely-looking bras in sizes I knew I needed.

Pretty soon, I learned to search the lingerie racks at places such as Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s for things in my size. Typically I would splurge on a new bra for my birthday and score 2-3 heavily discounted bras through these stores each year. Fitting myself and figuring out sizing took me a few years of trial and error, but I got it all worked out and found my favorite bra (Freya Deco, 30G/28FF!). 

I <3 Deco! At least I'm 99% sure that's what I'm wearing here, haha.

I heart Deco! At least I’m 99% sure that’s what I’m wearing here. Haha.

During this time I found myself in the same position that Darlene discussed in her recent “F Stands for Full Bust” post–I was busty, but not THAT busty and I certainly didn’t look it most of the time. The only time I was really aware of my full-busted size was when my smaller chested sisters would pick up my bras and gawk, or when I would foolishly try to fit into a size “small” shirt or non-cup-sized swimwear.

I *think?* I'm wearing a Panache Porcelain here. Can't remember the size, but man that was a comfy bra.

I *think?* I’m wearing a Panache Porcelain here. Can’t remember the size, but man that was a comfy bra.

When I finally had it all figured out . . . I experienced the miracle of bringing life into the world. Don’t get me wrong — I love my children, and I am insanely grateful for my relatively healthy pregnancies and births. But I do not inherently love pregnancy in all of its nauseating, breast-expanding glory. I shot up five cup sizes from a 30G/28FF to a 28JJ-30K (which was an L or M or N or something insane-sounding in US sizing). I could find absolutely zero pregnancy/nursing bras in my size, even from websites and brands that I knew and trusted. I was SO baffled–isn’t the biological function of breasts to, well, feed babies? Not just to look pretty? So, why were there hundreds of options for non-lactating busty women, but relatively little for lactating busty women? I then realized after more digging that I couldn’t even find regular bras in my current size – which also confused me. I hadn’t yet learned about the dreaded H-Cup Ceiling (Samantha at The Curves Have It has a great post on The H Problem).

Through all of this searching, I knew there had to be other women in my size range, lactating or not. There was no way I was the only one. So I continued to dig, and finally came across Hourglassy–which served as my portal to the the full-bust blog world. I couldn’t believe there was an entire corner of the Internet dedicated to discussing and solving my specific problems! I sent Darlene a very emotional email, asking for any pregnancy/nursing bra resources she could point me to. From there I followed June at Braless in Brasil (whose blog is no longer online), who recommended to me the ONLY comfortable and properly-sized nursing bra I’ve been able to find (Decent Exposures un-bra). I also used this awesome Hourglassy DIY Nursing Bras tutorial with great success, and there have been quite a few Boobs and Babies posts throughout Hourglassy’s lifetime that I found helpful!

Me and my sweet baby #2 at 4 months old. Wearing a poor-fitting nursing bra and trying to hide my bustline. Babies are a great accessory for that ;)

Me and my sweet second baby at 4 months old. Wearing a poor-fitting nursing bra and trying to hide my bustline. Babies are a great accessory for that ;)

So there is my story. I have been pregnant and/or lactating for the past four years (no breaks–yikes!), currently still nursing my second child (15 months old and weaning v e r y slowly). At the moment I hover around a 28-30 band and J-K cup, depending on the brand. I’m still searching for comfortable bras in my size – I have a few that fit, but nothing I actually love to wear! I’ve tried more bras than I can count in the past four years, most of them have been failures, but a couple have been phenomenal successes (which I am looking forward to sharing with you!).

In addition to sharing my experiences as a mother, I hope to share general-busty experiences with all women–especially those who struggle with the H-Cup Ceiling. I LOVE to sew, and am planning tutorials that show how to make inexpensive clothing work for a busty body, and even how to make a swimsuit if you’re that adventurous!! I just finished making one for myself last week, and it makes me so happy. My style is casual, comfortable, and fun. I greatly appreciate clothing that is easy to wear and care for. I have plenty of bra/clothing reviews and op-ed pieces up my sleeve as well. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

I am SO grateful to live in this day and age where bra information and networking with other bra enthusiasts is so easy. I am grateful for blogs, online shopping, Zulily, Amazon, foreign clothing brands, and all of the other incredible resources that make properly fitting bras available to women everywhere! I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of it all.

Fit & Active October: What Motivates You?

When my normal exercise schedule got disrupted last week, I didn’t want to do boot camp two days in a row–that would be a surefire path to burnout for me. Thankfully, comments to last week’s Fit & Active post alerted me to the world of YouTube exercise videos. In live cardio-dance classes, it’s hard for me to follow the choreography, but I hoped the pause button on my TV would help me master the steps enough to have fun and raise my heart rate.

It didn’t–it’s going to take a lot more than a single video session to turn me into a Rockette. Thinking it may have been my choice of video, I browsed a little more and discovered this Jillian Michaels workout. The comments say it’s really good, and I may try it some day, but Leah’s latest Project Runway rant was too fresh in my mind to be able to get past Jillian’s introduction of the women helping her:

I think you can tell by the shape of their bodies, they are the absolute best in the business. I want to have the best always because they help elevate what I do, my work, and they’re aspirational for you and me. I mean, look at these girls. Who doesn’t want to look like that? The idea being, that if you stick with this 45 minute workout diligently and consistently, we’re all gonna look like this in no time. I don’t think anything could be more inspirational.

They DO look AMAZING, don’t they?

jillian michaels and girls 3

jillian michaels and girls 4

But it doesn’t matter how many times I do this workout video, I’m never going to look like them. Of course there’s the obvious difference in bra size, but even if I get a reduction, I’m never going to have their bodies. And that’s fine because I don’t want to have their bodies. I’m happy with my body. I’m not working out so that I can look like someone else.

Jillian Michaels needs to sell her videos, and the Project Runway designers need to sell their clothes. To do so, they believe they must appeal to the most popular conceptions of fitness and beauty. And this is why I am oh so thankful for the internet.  Because of the internet, we’re not trapped by images from the traditional media that lead us to believe we should only want to look one way.

On the internet, there’s room for individuality, risk and authenticity, as I discovered when I continued my search and found this homemade exercise video. The Pinterest caption where I found it states that “[t]his video was created for [. . . ] inspirational purposes only. [. . . ] There are no professional dancers in this video.” I am so much more inspired by the women in this video than I am by Jillian Michaels’ team.  Because I relate physically to the two women on the left (they’re probably wearing sports bras under those tee shirts!), I’m even inspired to believe that I may someday be able to dance as gracefully as they do to this song.

all body types can be in shape and graceful

Here’s another video from the same group. The participants include a grey-haired woman and a young lady who may have Down’s Syndrome. This video makes me want to have as much fun with my exercise as they do!

Here’s what currently motivates me to be fit and active:

  • the good feeling that comes after exercise
  • clearing away lethargy
  • meeting the instructors’ challenges and seeing improvement in my stamina as a result
  • feeling my biceps
  • lower cholesterol and blood pressure

I know myself enough to realize that these won’t always get me out of the house and to the gym. A few weeks of travel or a simple cold are enough to disrupt my commitment and sideline me. However, when I’m ready to start again, it won’t be someone else’s physically perfect body that gets me going.

What gets you going?