Helping with Fit and Learning a Lesson About Value

A law school friend asked me to reach out to Ester, her Tanzanian translator who was in New York “with 5 albino children who will be fitted for prosthetics”. Like me, you may be wondering what the significance is of the children having albinism?

Global Relief Fund

In Africa, and especially Tanzania, people with albinism are regarded as bad luck and outcasts . . . unless a witch doctor instructs his client to return with the limb of a person with albinism so that he can mix it with a potion to bring good luck. Ester, who you see on the left in the photo above, works with the 320 children with albinism that are sponsored by Under the Same Sun. One of her jobs is to make sure they are placed in private boarding schools with strong security.

Six months ago, a group of men barged into six-year-old Baraka’s home and hacked off his hand. His story caught the attention of the founder of Global Medical Relief Fund, who tried to contact his parents to bring him to the United States for a prosthetic. Instead, she reached Under the Same Sun and ended up bringing Baraka and four more children with him. That’s how Ester came to be in New York City with the five children you see in this picture. (Baraka is the smallest child on the left next to Ester.)

Although these children return to Tanzania on September 30, a Tanzanian teenager with albinism will take their place, so Ester will remain. Having packed for only two months, she is now at the end of her third month and running out of clothes!

Last night, Hourglassy’s clothing swap came to the rescue. Thanks to some great pieces that no one took home last year, Ester now owns several dresses, blouses and bras that fit her perfectly. What an honor it was to be able to help this amazing woman.

pepperberry tweed dress on ester


pepperberry white blouse on ester


bolero black dress


With our first swap in 2012, I promised to donate any unclaimed clothes to charity, but last year I had an idea I like better: keep the clothes in my basement for the following year’s swap, and make them available to busty women who stop by before then. Doesn’t this make you want to visit New York City? Of course, if you already live in or near the city, then you should come to our 4th Annual Big Bust Clothing Swap this Saturday!

When I drove home from visiting Ester last night, I felt thankful that my goal of helping busty women find clothes to fit had been reached in such an unexpected way. My encounter with her charges, however, gave me a new perspective on the theme of self-acceptance that we often discuss here. Under the Same Sun sponsors many children with albinism who have run away because their own families are the ones who want to harm them. How can a small child have the strength to refuse to believe the lie that she is worthless and to fight for her very survival? The battles that these children are winning gives me courage to overcome my much smaller struggles. I hope they do the same for you.

Best Breasts Forward ~ The Junior Edition

It may be because I have daughters or it may be from my own past experiences, but for whatever reason I have a special concern when it comes to girls and body issues. I developed early and for a quiet girl who only wanted to sing and study, having boys ogle at my growing breasts was horrifying. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I didn’t know what to wear so I struggled to make what was available to me fit. Not knowing much about bras and their proper fit made it worse. I often think of how different those years would have been if I was better prepared for what was happening to me.

Why is it that we talk to girls about getting their period and all that entails but we shy away from exposing them to the truth about their breasts and how to take proper care of them? Because we live in a society that hyper-sexualizes breasts, it seems we are afraid to embrace our daughters’ growing busts.

Do you know what it feels like to have someone look at you and shake their head because you’re a C cup in 8th grade? It feels like slut-shaming.

We must begin to teach our girls early on that there is no shame in being busty. This is not an easy task. Preteen and teenagers are inherently self-conscious. Because of this, it’s up to the older women in their lives to take the initiative and begin not just telling them but showing them how to embrace their breasts. If you are slouching and hiding, then so will she. If she sees you frowning at your reflection in the mirror, she will do the same. If you have not accepted your own body, honey, you’ve got to fake it till you make it, at least in front of her.

I’d like to open up the dialogue between us, busty women seeking and sharing knowledge with each other and younger girls who are just developing. I want us to speak to them frankly but with humor, love and care about what we’ve learned, how we’ve felt, and the solutions we’ve found to issues we encounter. The more information we give them, the more comfortable they will be with themselves.

I have my own list of specific topics that I’ll be focusing on, but I’d appreciate input from you all.

What would you tell or explain to your younger self about having large breasts?

This is something I will be working on in the upcoming months and I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Remember, confident girls become confident women who raise confident girls.

Best Breasts Forward

D+ Donation Dreams

Leah isn’t able to post today, so I’m using her space to link to my blog post about Bottomless Closet on the Campbell & Kate blog. What important work this non-profit is doing! However, I admit that I’m slightly conflicted about encouraging Hourglassy readers to donate their bust-friendly tops, jackets and dresses to this organization. If you do that, how will you have anything left for our next Big Bust Clothing Swap? I should probably just get over my scarcity mentality, shouldn’t I? Sounds like another blog post topic worth exploring.

When I visited Bottomless Closet a few weeks ago, I already knew that they didn’t accept used bra donations, but I hoped to encourage them to reconsider. After all, how can anyone dress for success without the right foundation? But when I saw all the clothing that they sort and heard about all the services that they provide, I realized there was no way this non-profit could also take on all the sizes and fit issues that bras present.

If you check out the pictures that I posted on Campbell & Kate, you can see that the boutique is pretty amazing. Here’s a picture of one of the back rooms. The wall of cubbyholes is just for shoes. Can you imagine adding bras to the mix?

bottomless closet shoe donations

So if you’re a bravangelist looking for her calling in life, this could be it. Why not set up a non-profit that does nothing but provide bras to the clients of other non-profits? A woman could pick up a referral to your fitting room at the same time that she picks up her interview outfit from Bottomless Closet! (One problem: many Bottomless Closet clients visit the boutique the day before their interview–NOT an ideal time for breaking in a new bra!)

You would have no problem getting bra donations. The now defunct Support 1000 has already proven that women everywhere want to help other women in this way. It wasn’t lack of donations that caused Support1000 to shutter. It was lack of time. The organization was 100% volunteer driven. To resurrect its mission, there would need to be salaried staff.

I’d better be careful or I’ll talk myself into starting something myself. However, if anyone out there wants to dream with me, let’s set up a conference call!


Best Breasts Forward ~ Giving All You’ve Got

I wanted this week’s column to be about what spring collection offerings were in my “hood”, but unfortunately I didn’t find anything worth mentioning.  I’m sure this is something that has happened to us busty ladies often as finding clothes off the rack isn’t easy for us.  I admit that I was frustrated,but after reading Darlene’s post from yesterday realize that there are those that have bigger things to worry about than what’s the latest warm weather wear for us.  There are those that have nothing that fits from last year or the year before.  So, instead of venting about what I didn’t find, I’ll be digging in my closet to find clothes and bras for those who are in need and am hoping that all Best Breasts Forward readers will do the same.  Let’s do our best to get these ladies into bras and clothes that make them look and feel as brave and strong as they are.