Owning Pink Bloggers

Chaos can be a catalyst for transformation. When life gets nutty, look for the growth opportunities.

How I Finally Overcame The Body War Against My Breasts

Tinamarie Bernard's picture

body war

This is the tale of two women and four breasts on a journey in Italy seeking something bigger than cup size. At each stop along the way, first in Rome and then in Tuscany, we'd peek into Italian lingerie shops and pose the same question. “Do you carry bras for fuller figured women?”

American woman are larger compared to Europeans. My friend and I are both taller and bigger by any standards, and if you’re someone with larger breasts (D and E cup) you know how frustrating it can be to:

Find beautiful bras that actually hold up your beautiful breasts.

Find any bra that doesn’t bind, pinch or constrict.

Experience the pleasure of wearing something deliciously sensual without boobage overflow.

Wear anything strappy without looking like you have a uni-boob.

Trapped as long as we both have been by the boobie wars, our wants were simple. We coveted the accessories of seduction. We wanted lingerie for our curvy bodies. We wanted to feel Italian lace holding our breast features forward. What we needed was something we'd discover only later.

If you are a woman with smaller breasts rolling your eyes at this, I get it. I know how annoying it is to hear a sister moan on about what others pay good money for.

Please be patient with us. Big breasts are cumbersome partners to pretty clothes, running, dancing, horseback riding, bending over without spilling out, seeing eye to eye instead of eye to boob.

Sometimes, just sometimes (many, many sometimes) we busty gals envy you for having what we desire:

Décolletage that defies the passage of time.

Silicon Valleys that stay in place as perky as a blood orange.

Breasts with get up and go.

Instead, we get wardrobe malfunctions that bring us down and we – my American friend and me as full figured as the Tuscan moon – carried a quiet hope underneath our ill fitting under wires. We had a dream to defy the droop and find a bra in Italy that was both exquisite in form and function.

There's a deeper meaning to lingerie. I’ve come to believe that bra shopping is a metaphor for many things including how a woman feels about herself. It’s about inspiration and hope and falling in love with that ONE ASPECT of your body after years of seeing only your flaws. You know exactly what I mean. If not your breasts, then what other part of you gets the brunt of self-loathing?

Find me a woman who isn’t sometimes drowning in the Bermuda Triangle of body shame. She’s the rare breed, bred to extinction through the onslaught of images that tell you just how imperfect you are…which is why I insisted to my friend that we keep looking. Somewhere, out there, we'd find what we were looking for. Even more, we'd find what we needed.

And then I saw the sign. Small and nestled under the eaves of an old Tuscan street paved with cobblestones, the window was filled with mannequins wearing big, beautiful bras and matching panties. 

“Look!” I squealed. We held hands. We walked in happy, fast. It felt like it was really our personal shop, magically placed there for us to find. It was called Glamour. 

Moments later we were standing in the back of the store NAKED FROM THE WAIST UP. The shopkeeper, an Italian woman of indeterminate age and exquisite fashion sense, spoke no English. We spoke no Italian. Gesturing with her hands she insisted we strip. Bossoms needed to be appraised. Breasts hanging out, nipples flying here and there, neither in the same direction, all for the mirrors to see and reflect back to us. 

Our bra expert used no tape measure, just her seasoned eyes to tell her what style and size bra would work best for us. Then she went over to one of her many drawers and ruffled through it until she found exactly what she was looking for. We waited, holding our breasts up, praying to God no one else happened to walk in. 

I was instructed to stand with my arms out. She laced them through the straps, turned me around and closed the back. Then she turned me around and without warning, her tiny hands went into the bra.

“Scoopa,” she said, her hands gently molding my right curves just so.

“Scoopa,” she said, treating my left breast to the same tender care.

Standing back, she said, “Bella.”

My friend’s eyes popped when she saw me in my new bra. We both had tears in our eyes. My breasts had never felt prettier, more sensual, more held up in perfect form.

They looked like Sophia Loren’s breasts. I was in love with the view from the top and the front. I was in love with ME. Scoopa Scoopa Bella. 

We would both try on many bras that afternoon and walk out with two apiece. We would discover that we were wearing the wrong sizes coming in (I went from 36DD to 40D, she went from 44DDD to 42E) and that lingerie is something a woman wears for herself. We would spend more on those two bras than we’d ever spent on any bra in our lifetime, and what we gained was precious.

We escaped from our personal pain, shame and fear about our breasts. Yes, even someone who’s been on this spiritual sexuality path for a long time has anxieties that need to be healed. I’m still escaping bit by bit from the Bermuda Triangle of body shame, pain and fear, and I know how hard it is to do this work alone.

I did it alone for a long time.  Now I do it with others, sometimes as a coach and sometimes as a friend and sometimes as a surprise, and each time another layer of that old story is peeled away, something powerful and sexy emerges.

You know what kind of woman really is magnetic?

The woman who can stand up naked and laugh in the mirror with joy and peace. A woman willing to take a risk. A woman who believes in her own personal magic. A woman with an appetite and wit, someone with presence and a Mona Lisa smile. A woman with an adventurous spirit and wide open heart, who is silly enough to laugh at naughty jokes and confident enough to open the door for her date. Someone who owns her intuition, her beautiful glow and her curves and knows she can manifest anything. A woman who lives for bliss and from the soul.

Did I learn all this from a bra? No, but I did from saying YES.

If I can keep taking risks, than so can YOU. What risks do you need to take? What parts of your body do you need to finally fall in love with? Did you ever go bra shopping and find something more than you expected, and if so, what was it?

Ready to experience You + Love + Intimacy? Click here.

Tinamarie Bernard

Life strategist, dating coach and love expert for women over 40


LB's picture

You're not alone, Tinamarie.

You're not alone, Tinamarie. Regardless of breast size, I think most of us at one time or another have struggled with how to achieve that idealized version of our breasts, either by adding or subtracting - if only we (even your big-boned, smaller-breasted sisters) could find that perfect bra. For many of us, our self-image depends on it, with comfort (and safety) taking a backseat to culturally acceptable ideas about beauty. Our bras are way too tight! They not only constrict our breasts, but also our circulation and lymph flow.:(

These past few days I've been listening to WISH Summit speakers talk about breast health, what we can do as women to *prevent* breast cancer rather than focusing solely (and myopically) on a cure. *Coincidentally*, the speakers I listened to this morning were Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, authors of "Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras".

Intuitively (and based on personal experience), I've always known something wasn't right with the whole bra thing, so listening to them share their research was very validating. It's also made me seriously reconsider my own relationship with lingerie and whether or not, in the big scheme of things, the aesthetics are really worth it, something each of us can only decide for ourselves.:)

When you comment on an Owning Pink blog post, we invite you to be authentic and loving, to say what you feel, to hold sacred space so others feel heard, and to refrain from using hurtful or offensive language. Differing opinions are welcomed, but if you cannot express yourself in a respectful, caring manner, your comments will be deleted by the Owning Pink staff.