Motherhood, Feminism and the Graveyard of Unwearable Bras by Violet A. Shearer

In the 1960's, one of the symbols of the feminist movement was the classic burning of the bras. It represented liberation from the oppression of the male patriarchy, right down to unbinding yourself from the constrictions of your smooth silhouette, created in the first place for the visual pleasures of men. Interesting premise, until you realize that some men actually fancy perky girls, swinging freely in the breeze.
 
I have long been intrigued by the concept of emancipating oneself by setting one's undergarments on fire, and then going without any undergarments at all. Especially because when I finally hit puberty at the age of 15, my breasts grew disproportionately large. My small, five-foot frame has been weighted down by either a C or D cup ever since, causing poor posture and no end to back problems. Add to that a rib measurement of 34 inches, and you have the recipe for a really awkward bra size to shop for. Bra manufacturers rarely acknowledge petite, small-ribbed, big-busted women in their product lines. Going out in public in a granny bra with generously wide and unfashionable shoulder straps has never seemed like a flattering option to me.
 
Then I got pregnant and my hormones went crazy. In the first trimester alone I went from a C cup to an E cup. During that metamorphosis, I learned that each cup size letter represents one additional inch difference between ribs and bust. A cup=1," B cup=2," and so on. An honorable mention goes to the confusing DD cup size, which is in between the D and E sizes. I believe the DD cup was created for E cup women in denial.
 
In the second trimester, my ribs also started expanding, due to my steadily developing fetus relocating my lower major organs upwards, in order to occupy the prime real estate of my body. The week before I gave birth, I measured a whopping 44 inches! I went through so many bras in those 43 weeks, I literally couldn't afford to keep myself in them! My child's father was no help. Since it wasn't his body parts expanding like dense helium balloons, there was no financial grant offered from the other half of the reason I was knocked up in the first place. Furthermore, when I asked him if my fertile form was beautiful, his response was "you look like a sumo wrestler."
 
So, finding myself strapped for cash and in my second trimester, I hooked up with a locally based bra manufacturer to do some pregnant modeling for one of their product lines. It was great! I actually got paid money for having this weird looking body, occupied by what felt like a rapidly growing parasitic alien. I got my hair and make-up done, and they somehow managed to make me look and feel sexy in my underwear for the first time in my life. The photos from the shoot turned out beautifully! As a bonus, I got to keep all of the bras I modeled, and I also got a gift certificate for more bras from their boutique. That turned out to be a good thing, since after my son was born, I needed nursing bras. You know, the ones with the little tabs in front designed to discreetly expose your nipple in public, in order to constantly shove it into the mouth of your newly born, screaming leech. Eventually, my lower organs realized they could return to their homes after their long exile. Some are still wandering around lost in there more than three years later, but that's another story.
 
In the post partum months following birth, my rib size gradually diminished back down to 35 inches, requiring several more sets of bras. At this point, my tiny frame wasn't able to withstand the aftereffects of a planned homebirth turned emergency Caesarian combined with huge, carry-them-around-in-a-wheelbarrow tits, so I kept re-spraining my tailbone for six months straight. This unfortunate, debilitating side effect didn't seem to produce much compassion from my partner, who insisted I return to work.
 
That's besides the fact that I managed to personally offend every single aging member of my partner's family. Apparently I had some nerve openly flashing my teats during every family gathering, even though the purpose was to plug up the hole in their progeny, which was producing china-shattering, ear-piercing wailing. Gratefully, there comes a time in every mother's life where they no longer need to do that awkward exhibitionist routine. After about a year or so, the baby learned to enjoy eating solid food during daylight hours, and preferred mama's milk only when snuggling under the covers while drifting off to sleep. That's usually when regular bras are needed again.
 
In my case, however, my once pre-pregnant, firm, ripe melons now sag down my chest like big, flat pancakes. My areolae droop all the way to my belly button, and my nipples point due south. No amount of cross your heart, under wire, side-ribbed, wide-strapped technology, can hoist these girls back up to their original, luscious position. But I also realize that's its these same breasts that nourished and loved my child into a healthy, bright, beautiful, contented son. So I heave a sigh when I pass my current, naked silhouette in the mirror, and spend what precious little time I get, wandering around lingerie shops in futile attempts to find some way to glorify these hardworking ladies.
 
I also left my son's father, knowing that he would never respect and appreciate the miracle of the female body, mind and soul that can bring forth and raise up new life from the mysterious void of the wombspace. When it's his turn with our son, he now has to bravely manage fatherhood on his own, without the shielding buffer of the awesome spell motherhood casts on our offspring. What remains is a whole drawer in my dresser I've labeled "The Graveyard of Unwearable Bras." In the last four years, I've acquired quite the extensive collection, most of which were worn for less than three months. I currently only fit into four of them. Lately, I've taken to exhuming this historic site, and passing on the $1500 set of bras to every woman I know, pregnant, nursing, or not, who may just fit into one of these sizes. I keep hoping they will receive some residual benefit from the nonreturnable undergarments. With the giveaway of each bra, I feel as though I'm offering some token of solidarity to my fellow female comrades.
 
What I've come to appreciate in all of this is that women's liberation is not about burning our bras. True feminism is about being well-supported throughout our changing circumstances, like a properly-fitted, uplifting bra, upholding our sisters.
 
Violet Moon Heart Woman (Medicine name) is a professional musician and music educator. This year, she somehow managed to juggle conducting 5 choirs, study the Sweet Medicine SunDance Path (Native Medicine), while simultaneously parenting her very active 3-year-old son. While she does claim to have Supermom attributes, you're pushing your luck if you ask her to bake a cake for the local school fun fair.