A Lifetime of Bras

The stories they tell

Ashley Peterson
Sep 27 · 3 min read

I’ve never been particularly materialistic. I don’t have a lot of physical reminders of my life as it’s progressed. I do have memories, though, and some of those memories are attached to thinks I wore on my body.

Just as clothing items can both impact and tell stories of your life, so can bras.

I remember my first bra. It was a rather ugly little white number, with two little tennis racket type things crisscrossing between the cups.

It, along with the experience of bra shopping with my mother, was a sufficient turnoff that I only wore bralettes for a number of years after that (and this was before bralettes were popular and attractive).

I went through a phase when, at the convincing of a friend, I thought bras in the $100+ range were absolutely the way to go. Perhaps that was true for my friend, who needed a great deal more support than I did, but not for me. Then a different friend got me hooked on a lingerie store with some creative sizing that turned my 34B chest at the time into a 32D. Isn’t it strange how, for many women, that is the only area of the body we want to be bigger (or at least think it’s bigger)?

When I was travelling in France in my mid-20s, I thought it would make a great souvenir of sorts to buy a French bra (although likely made in China, no one has to know that). I went trotting off to a department store that I’d spotted and quickly discovered that sizes are not the same as back in North America. A saleslady found me looking dazed and confused and quickly took charge. She gave me a visual once-over, followed by a quick grope, and then confidently announced my size. She was bang on.

I remember being so excited the first time I finally found a strapless bra that a) stayed up, and b) didn’t feel like a torture device. And then I gained a lot of weight, and it became useless.

That wondrous contraption still sits in my underwear drawer, because I can’t bear to get rid of something so miraculous.

I have another contraption, a merry widow (is she merry because she thinks she’ll finally get some decent sex?), that I bought at one point a few years ago when I thought there was some chance of getting laid. I was wrong, and it sits in my underwear drawer unworn because it’s just far too involved to wear just for me.

Have you ever had a squeaky bra? I’ve had a few. The worst offender was a bra that I otherwise adored. It was pretty, it was comfortable, and it didn’t produce any weird bumps or lines under my clothes. But it squeaked. Other people must have noticed the weird squeaky noise whenever my underwire was torqued at all, although presumably, they wouldn’t have guessed the source.

No one ever commented, though, which actually surprises me a bit because people aren’t usually that polite.

When I gained a bunch of weight from my psychiatric meds, my breasts grew considerably. All of a sudden it seemed like sports bras didn’t include enough material, as I was spilling out the top. My depression-induced “I don’t give a crap” attitude has banished “real bras” (aka anything with underwire) to the back of the underwear drawer. This leaves me wearing mostly bralettes that really aren’t qualified to keep my girls in the vicinity of where they really belong, but the I-don’t-give-a-crap is pretty okay with that.

Much like when I was in France, I thought that it would be a great idea to buy some lingerie when I was travelling in Italy last year. I guess the pretty lingerie store I went into didn’t cater to the bosomy nonna segment of the population, as there were a whopping two bra options in my size.

Unlike the stories of our bodies, the stories of our garments don’t remain etched on our exterior, but we carry them with us nonetheless as part of our lived experience.


Stories that celebrate the openness about the joys, victories, milestones, and pitfalls of life.

Ashley Peterson

Written by

Mental health blogger, nurse, living with depression. Author of Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psych Meds Made Simple. https://mentalhealthathome.org



Stories that celebrate the openness about the joys, victories, milestones, and pitfalls of life.

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