I remember very clearly when I received my first bra. I was 12 years old and it was Christmas. As I snooped around the tree and poked and prodded at the wrapped gifts, I noticed my stocking was stuffed -- literally. There, inside my furry red stocking was a training bra. Horrified, I waited with trepidation for the moment on Christmas morning when I would have to open my stocking and show off its contents to my entire family. The moment did come, and try as I might to pretend that there was nothing else in my stocking, I had to own up to it. Purple with embarrassment, I pulled out the offending item.
Until that point I hadn't put much thought into bras at all. My friends had started wearing them, but since I was "so flat the walls were jealous" (as the boys in my fifth grade class said) I didn't think I needed any sort of (physical) support in that area. I was a competitive gymnast at that point, and I remember noticing when my teammates' bra straps would peek out from their leotards, realizing, "Oh, she's wearing one now."
Fast forward a few years to the time when I was wearing bras a solid seven days a week. By this point I was in middle school and my undergarments of choice came from Victoria's Secret (where else?) and were usually of the padded, satin, push-up variety (did I mention that I didn't have that much to work with?). I shudder at the memory of so much flammable material so close to my body. I had a collection of five or so bras and would wear them interchangeably -- a red satin bra was just as good as a purple one, you know?
When I moved to New York after college I, like many 20-something females in the early 2000s, was obsessed with Carrie Bradshaw and all things "Sex And The City." When Carrie wore a neon bra it was like a giant well-lit foam finger was pointing me in the direction of downtown lingerie boutique La Petite Coquette. I quickly purchased two Deborah Marquit underwear sets, one in neon green and the other in fluorescent pink. I wore them under white tank tops and other transparent clothing, naturally.
Then, in my late 20s, I became pregnant with my first child. The changes that pregnancy hormones wreak on your body are numerous, but for all intents and purposes for this article, let's discuss the bosoms. Within moments of creating that being in your womb your breasts become tender and swollen. Like, driving-over-speed-bumps-is-painful tender. Throughout my first pregnancy I constantly wore sports bras to keep my chest as still as possible, even to sleep. I would have bound my breasts if I could have.
After my daughter was born and I started breastfeeding I transitioned to nursing bras. You may have heard of the style abomination that is nursing bras. Yes, they are utilitarian, yes, you can basically flop your milking machine out at a moment's notice, and yes, they are hideous. But, their comely appearance meant that I had no problem leaking breast milk on them or using them to clean up baby barf.
Now here I am, two decades after I started wearing bras and I'm basically back where I started. Well, not quite (I can't even imagine where that dastardly training bra might be). But I am back in Victoria's Secret bras, though not the satin-y, push-up kind. Instead, I opt for cotton models in white, grey or black. With two kids and a busy job I have less time than ever to think about what I'm wearing, so why would I spend a second more than necessary on my underwear?