Book Review: The Bra Zone

I recently finished another book that Hourglassy readers will be interested in: The Bra Zone by Elizabeth Dale of The Breast Life. More than a how-to-fit instructional, this book promises to delve into all the different styles and shopping experiences that could work for a woman–hence the “zone”–and I was excited to receive a review copy.

Even though I was already familiar with most of the content, I love having all of this information in one place. It’s become a handy reference book for me.

Other than a personal reference book, would I recommend this book to a less knowledgeable friend who needs a well-fitting bra? My answer is yes–if it’s a friend who learns best by reading and I could highlight the points most relevant to her ahead of time. The book is only 142 pages with appendices, but Elizabeth covers enough scenarios in it to make it applicable to a variety of friends with a combination of different issues. It originated from the kind of conversations that you and I have all the time: “During conversations with fellow bra wearers, I suddenly realized that despite years of bra wearing, no one felt confident about their own bra shopping skills. Everyone knew what they liked, but no one seemed to know quite how to find it.”

Here are the things I especially like about this book: [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…]

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

pepperberry white blouse on ester

Pepperberry

bolero black dress

Bolero

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