In the past years my bra shopping trips have pretty much revolved around pregnancies. I got three when I was pregnant with Sadie and one when I was pregnant with Mae. They had held up pretty well, considering their age, but it was time. Actually, it was probably well past time.
I have a hard time spending money on bras because they're usually so ridiculously expensive and that's where Walmart comes in because while cutting through the bra section the other day I noticed that there were quite a few in the $5-$10 and that seemed somehow less painful than the price tags I'd come to expect.
Paul took Sadie to find power steering fluid (because our Super-Not-Great-Van apparently has a leak) and Mae and I headed over to the "intimates" section. When we reached it and the shopping cart came to a stop Mae did what she always does when the shopping cart pauses and started to scream. I picked her up and held her while trying to find an appropriate size, and she continued to scream. After an hour of holding Mae during Mass, while wrangling Sadie, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever be able to lift my arms above my shoulders again, but I was determined and pushed on in my search, in a desperate race against the clock (Mae Bae was only going to get louder).
There wasn't a single bra in my size in the first section and I puzzled over this as I headed to the second section. Do I wear the most common size in America? Was my size totally sold out? They had plenty of bras in the sizes directly above mine. I continued to the second, third, fourth and fifth sections and found nothing. How could there be so many bras and not a single one that would fit me? I headed back to the front of the bra section to reevaluate the situation.
And there they were: All of the bras in my size, just waiting to be bought. There were dozens of them, cordoned off my themselves in their own little aisles. And why, you may ask, where they off by themselves away from the perfectly sensible, supportive bras? Because they were all "push up" bras.
All of the bras in my size in Walmart, were pushup bras.
Now in high school I may have rushed up to a wall of push up bras cheering, but those days are long gone. And frankly at my current size, which is apparently right at the line between needing enormous amounts of support and needing enormous amount of enhancement, I'd rather not have that extra bit of help that they buyers at Walmart (and Target from my experience two years ago shopping) seem to think that women my size and smaller need.
I've been thinking about the experience since I got home this afternoon. Girls and women, my size or smaller, are pretty much being told by the stores that they need padded push-up bras. It's apparently what's expected. They've almost completely eliminated the other options (at least in my price range... because there's no way I'm paying $30-$50 for one bra...) for this rather necessary product. And what are push up bras supposed to do? They're supposed to make us look sexy. Which is what our over sexualized culture tells us we're supposed to be, all the time.
There's just something wrong with the fact that there are no other options. It's kind of ridiculous in a sad way. But I guess "sex sells." And that seems to be what they're going for in this particular department. I guess they don't see any room for anything in between.