The Sports Bra of DOOM

isabisa /Free Photos

G’morning, Readers. It’s Wednesday, the world didn’t end (not that I thought it would, for Chrissake) and if you want to know a little bit more about Hunter’s Prayer, you should check out the Orbit “In Their Own Words” feature.

Now let’s talk about brassieres. I promised you all a Sports Bra of Doom post, and I’m going to deliver. Those in the audience who are delicate or easily offended, leave now. (Translation: if talking about tits offends you, this is SO not the blog post for you.)

I never was a particularly chesty girl. I was about 36B in high school, which was something when I weighed less than a hundred pounds but was no longer something once I discovered food as a drug. Once my hips finished fulfilling their destiny, I discovered I was doomed to go through life as a Weeble. It wasn’t that much of a surprise. On the maternal side I come from a long line of peasant women with (imagine my bad Eastern European accent here) “strong, good hips, pull plow when ox dies.” So I’m built for endurance, not speed (which makes my choice of running as a fitness activity hilarious.)

Then pregnancy happened. Twice. And each time I breastfed. So the tatas weren’t sitting around looking pretty anymore–no, they were milk tankers, and my kids were hungry. I started referring to them as “working breasts” about then, and the jokes in the household about seeing-eye breasts and the like flew fast and furious. Hey, there was a reason I married the Japanese Muffin. His sense of humor is at least as inappropriate (if not as macabre) as mine.

After weaning the Little Prince, I never really did go back to wearing a brassiere. I mean, I’d occasionally throw on a sports bra if I had to, but really, running after two kids and dealing with postpartum depression/housework? It was all I could do to keep everyone fed and clothed. So it was a sports bra (one of the cloth-y Hanes ones) if I was “dressed up”–mostly so my headlights weren’t on, if you know what I mean AND I THINK YOU DO. And the rest of the time, forget it. I had better things to do, and truth be told, I did not miss the tit-harnesses one bit.

There was one thing, though. Pouring myself into a sports bra meant that I had cleavage you could lose not just quarters or silver dollars in, but whole bank vaults. You want an undiscovered country? Just take a look at the Crack of Doom once I finish struggling, red-faced and sweating but ever so victorious, into a brassiere of any type. It’s a wonder those adrenaline junkies who want to climb Chomo Lungma don’t want to spelunk. (Some men, usually in bars when I was much much younger, asked and were denied the privilege. Mostly because they talk to the crevasse and not to me. I am the Keeper of those Gates, thank you.)

My Labor Day resolution was actually in the works for a longer time than you’d think. I started thinking about seriously committing to exercise a while ago, and have slowly pieced together some exercise gear. But there was one thing missing from my trousseau, so to speak, and that was a chest harness.

So I measured myself up, and Good God. I’ve gone up a cup size and a few inches, to say the least. I stood there in front of the mirror, measuring tape in one hand, and didn’t dare actually look at them. That’s one thing advertising does for women–it makes us utterly incapable of looking at ourselves naked with any kind of happy joyful feeling.

But I digress. (Only slightly.) “Oh, CRAP,” I said with feeling. “Now I have to f!cking buy bras.”

I mean, why spend money on over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders when you can be spending it on books, right? Right?

Anyway, there was no goddamn way I was going to Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s secret is this: she doesn’t have any secrets left. They’ve been waxed, airbrushed, and lingerie’d right off. I like being the mystery that is female, you know. Besides, I get the feeling that the instant I walk into that store I am going to, in this order:

* Cringe under the load of pink and bordello chic decorating
* Gag from the perfume in the air
* Make eye contact with a salesperson and blush
* Have trouble getting the words “I need to be measured for a bra” out
* Say something totally socially-inappropriate because my brain has frozen
* Something like, “Hey! I need to strap my tatas down just in case I get caught in a pocket of zero gee and have to see to swim my way out. Got anything in Madonna/Fembot, maybe with a machine-gun insert?”
* The salesperson will blink and reach for the phone to call security
* I will resist, insisting that all I want is a Fembot tit-holder, because I’m stubborn like that
* I will be Maced and tasered
* The pictures of models on the walls will snicker at me
* I will be held for a few hours and then released
* I will go home and refuse to answer questions about where I’ve been, why my pants are wet, and what happened to my face
* I will go straight to the fridge and eat everything I can lay my hands on
* Including the kimchee. Ugh.

You see? No matter what way I envision a Victoria’s Secret shopping run, it always ends up with Mace and kimchee. Not to mention the tasering.

Fear not, though. I was willing to risk all three until it occurred to me, hey, Victoria’s Secret may not have sports bras! Unless it’s for HORIZONTAL sports, badda-bing, and I’m MARRIED! Words can’t describe the relief.

So I turned to the old friend I should have first turned to when I discovered I was in need. Yes, my friends, I had forgotten about Google. And after I got past the image results for the “sports bra” search, I found an article (NOT on Wikipedia, thank God) about the ten best sports bras for women. At that point I had an epiphany.

For some reason unknown to mortal man, I’ve been receiving the Title Nine catalog for a while. I’ve liked looking at it, and I like cutting it up for collages because the women in it are skinny, yeah, but they’re sports skinny. You can tell they’re strong. They have precious few models, and the ones they choose are sporty-looking. So I still feel like a fat cow while paging through the catalog, but at least I think with some hard work I might reasonably look like the chubby older sister of some of these women. I also like how they do actually show laugh lines and other little human things on the women they photograph.

So I looked up Title Nine. Huzzah. Now we were cooking. I popped over to the Bras & Undies section. Then I discovered the barbells system. The barbells system is, basically, how much support do you want? 1-2 barbells is light activity. 3-5 is moderate to heavy activity. The activity scale, I figure, when adjusted for my own tatas, went something like this:

1 barbell: Breathing
2 barbells: Sitting upright
3 barbells: Standing upright
4 barbells: Cautiously taking a step
5 barbells: Running away from sabertooth zombies

Needless to say, I wanted five fucking barbells. I wanted The Girls (as in, “Don’t talk to them, I talk for them, talk to ME”) strapped down so tight a nuclear blast couldn’t make ’em jiggle. I wanted…

…not to get a black eye the first time I started jogging. If I wanted facial trauma I’d’ve gone and got tasered at Victoria’s.

Then I discovered that you have to pay for the architectural triumph that is a five-barbell sports bra in my size. Pay out the nose (and any other orifice that can discharge cash). I seriously felt like I was reading the first thirty pages of the Fountainhead again, mostly because my view of architects was colored by that book. (Or let’s be honest, by the attempt I made to read that book before Rand’s non-prose defeated me.) I had a vision of Howard Roark trying to sketch out a sports bra for the busty masses, finally cowering in defeat as a broken man as buttresses snapped and foundation garments buckled.

I did it. I bit the bullet and got the bras. But my saga is not over yet, dear Reader. Oh no.

I discovered, once they arrived, that I had bought a few inches…too small. Once I lose a little weight they’ll probably fit fine, since they’re the right cup size. But I have since learned an important commandment of brassiere sizing: THOU SHALT NOT MEASURE YOURSELF FOR A BRASSIERE, FOR ON THAT ROAD LIES SHAME AND INIQUITY. After I moaned and ordered brassieres in “boatload” size, I had to buy socks, and that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. But the new brassieres arrived–wait, what’s that you say?

Oh HELL no. Of COURSE I wasn’t going to RETURN any of the too-small ones! Jesus! Even if they’re still in the original packaging, Good God, so embarrassing! They would pull the return slip out and gather around, and LAUGH–“Look, she’s returning the smaller size and getting the bigger one! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Look, I know it’s not rational. I’m just saying, my imagination, sometimes she run away with me. Besides, I paid good money for those goddamn bras, and on days when my motivation isn’t what it should be, the idea of fitting into the smaller ones just might get me on that fucking treadmill. Hey, you take what you can get.

So. Labor Day came. I strapped myself into a several-barbell masterpiece of engineering and wicking fabric–for my comfort. I discovered that yes, with a little rearrangement of my ribs I could indeed breathe. I stepped up onto the treadmill, squinted at the early morning light coming through the sunroom windows, and managed to turn the treadmill on.

And what do you know? The Girls cut the air smoothly in front of me like a prow. There was no jiggling. Now, nothing is ever going to make The Girls go away–they shall by my companions lo unto the breaking of the world–but they just glued themselves to my chest and waited. I felt like I was nine again, walking without a bounce to each step.

Six minutes of walking, one of jogging. I waited for the six-minute mark with joy and trepidation. I chose running (despite The Girls and their habit of trying to punch me in the face during any activity if left unstrapped) because–well, slight digression.

I suck at team sports. I have ever since childhood. I just can’t see getting yelled at by my own “teammates” for an imaginary set of rules. If we’d had zombie hunting or something as a team sport, I might’ve signed up for that–because I can see yelling at a teammate who got their stupid ass bitten by a freaking zombie. But not blocking a soccer ball with her face? Sorry, I don’t think that’s a yellable offense. After a while I just point-blank refused any “team” sport. It just wasn’t worth it. Running is something I can do by myself with nobody yelling at me. I often go to the track near my house to walk, and during “football” season (goddammit, football is SOCCER, troglodytes bashing each other with their helmets is something else) I see Pee-Wee teams out there on the fields. The coaches scream, the parents scream, the poor kids are probably screaming on the inside. It’s hideous. If anyone ever treated my kid that way I’d take my baby home, thankyouverymuch, and you’d hear from my lawyer within twenty-four hours. It disgusts me to see adults trying to live out their fantasies through their kids.

ANYWAY. Digression over. I hit the six minute mark and began slowly jogging. And the girls moved with me, only the slightest of betraying bounces. My heart was filled with the kind of transcendent joy mystics must feel at the approach of their deity or enlightenment. My legs, ass, and ribs, however, didn’t see the need for celebrating because they were busy running, goddammit, and they couldn’t believe I was doing this to them. Pretty soon my heart and lungs forgot the numinous joy and started bitching about the jogging, too.

But it only lasted a minute, and we were back to walking. After four rounds of that and a cooldown, I climbed down off the treadmill with the kind of relief an about-to-be-executed person must feel at the sound of the word “pardon”. The girls didn’t bounce at all, but all of a sudden the most important thing in the world was getting that goddamn tit-harness OFF. I popped the release, struggled out of it on my way to the loo, and felt that exquisite relief. If you are female, and you have worn a brassiere, you know what I mean. The best feeling in the world isn’t sex and it isn’t chocolate. It may not even be triumphing over one’s enemies. It is taking the bosom-bucket off at the end of the day.

It’s almost worth putting the damn thing on in the first place. Almost.

There is only one more thing to report. I hadn’t worn a hooks-up titsling in YEARS. I forgot (only once, mind you!) to fasten the hooks before I threw it, sweat-soaked but victorious, into the wash. As a result, one of the eyelets is mangled. I bought backup brassieres, of course, but I’m thinking of having this one bronzed as my own personal medal of accomplishment. Of course, wearing it on the treadmill with one eyelet nonfunctioning means that I run a risk of the other hooks catastrophically failing under torque they weren’t designed for.

But hey, what’s life without a little risk? You now know the story of the Sports Bra of Doom. If you’ve read this far, my dears, you deserve a reward for putting up with me. (Heh.) I leave you now with that chanteuse of the bosom, the Divine Miss M. Enjoy.