I have the dubious distinction of belonging to the segment of the population that is, shall we say, well endowed. Blessed in the chest. My cups runneth over. To put it straight, I’ve got big boobs, and not to make mountains out of molehills (though I would like to make molehills out of mountains, or at least settle on maybe some nice rolling hills) but having big boobs can suck. A lot. Especially when you’re looking for bras. Which is where this product review for the new Jockey bras comes in, but first: some back story. Because we all know boob talk is the best talk, and I do love to talk.
So let’s start out with the very commonly quoted idea that something like 90% of people are wearing the wrong bra size. Which has always brought up two questions in my mind. The first being “If everyone is quoting this statistic how is that number not going down?” The second is “How on earth could anyone be wearing the wrong bra size? Do people wear the wrong pants size too? How do you get so deluded as to think you’re wearing something that fits but doesn’t actually fit you right at all?” While I’m still not sure how that 90% statistic has managed to stay strong through an onslaught of morning talk show media campaigns, I have my own personal answers for the latter question.
Through my own experience I have learned that it’s actually quite easy to fool yourself into thinking you’re wearing the right size when you’re really not. It’s like how women’s clothing uses vanity sizing to supposedly make women feel better about being able to squeeze into a size 5 instead of a size 7, not by losing weight or mastering the dark arts, but just by fudging the number on the pants. I mean, what is even a size 5 really? And what is it compared to a size 7 or 14 or 28? They’re just numbers. But in our media saturated, thinness worshiping environment, that vanity sizing has led to women to stick to those smaller numbers like glue. “It says size 5 and my other pants are a size 5 so I should be able to fit into these too!”, she says as she struggles to pull them up over her hips. If she can get them to button, there’s a good chance she’ll go with them rather than *gasp* go with the horror of choosing a larger number size for her pants. Even if the size 9’s in that line are the pants that would fit her best, she might just tough it out with the 5’s rather than admit she needs something larger, even if its better suited for her. I’ve done this, not with these exact numbers probably, but I do have pants in my closet right now that run the gamut from a 3 to a 13 and I fit in ALL of them (more or less). If I’ve done this, I know you’ve done this, that women everywhere have done this, because people who are subject to the intense body-shaming that radiates out from our culture are human and they can easily fall prey to it’s omnipresent propaganda.
Which brings us, ever so merrily, to bras. Bras are the WORST at this. At least with pants you have one set of numbers to keep track of, but with bras you’ve got numbers AND letters. And instead of a linear-ish progression, the damn letter-number relationship in bras is like on a freaking sine curve or something. Honestly, I don’t even know and I’ve actually done quite a bit of research on bra sizing because here’s the thing: up until about 6 months ago I was one of the nebulous 90% of women wearing the wrong size. And that’s because of a heaping amount of body-shame. I knew I was wearing the wrong size. My bras weren’t comfortable, they didn’t fit my lady lumps, and they were causing me pain almost every day. I have a bad ligament or something in one of my shoulder blades and not having proper support hurts that pissy little string of musculature like no tomorrow. For a long time I was just resigned to living in pain and discomfort because I refused to admit to myself that my boobs were bigger than the cheap 34DD Target bras I had. I already hated that my breasts were DD’s, the thought of them being bigger than that was just too much for me.
I had definitely internalized some effed up ideas about what larger bra sizes meant. I mean who wears a 32G and doesn’t make her living in front of some form of camera? Me, as I found out when I got properly measured the first time. It’s the same kind of shame that encourages women to wear the wrong clothing size. “I’ll just suffer through an ill fitting 7 because only fat people wear 13’s.” “I’ll just suffer though an ill fitting 34DD because only porn stars wear 32G’s.” It’s ridiculous, it’s messed up. It’s sexist and sizeist as fuck. There’s nothing wrong with being big and there’s nothing wrong with having sex, and there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting clothes that fit your unique size and body shape. What’s wrong here is that we have deceptive clothing sizes and stigmas that encourage us to body shame ourselves. The solution to the latter is self-love and body positivity. Things that I am actively working on achieving for myself. The phrase “It’s just a number, not an estimation of my self-worth” is a very frequent companion in dressing rooms nowadays and my clothes fit all the better for it. For the other problem, the vanity sizing and deceptiveness, we need clothing lines that go beyond that bullshit and that make clothes that fit us and our real bodies without adding little bits of self-hate into the mix.
Which brings me, very round aboutly, to my product review: Jockey bras. Like I mentioned up above, I did eventually get properly fitted and sized at a 32G. Which tends to land me squarely in the “I hope you’re expecting to spend $60 on a bra in which you have only three choices to choose from in your size: lacy, see through, and full coverage granny bra” area of bra shopping. For those who have never explored this territory, it is not a fun place to find yourself in. You’re also still dealing with vanity sizing as a 32G in one line from one brand will fit differently from bras in other lines from the same brand, let alone from how another brand’s bras will fit. So when I heard about Jockey’s new bras and their new sizing system that uses a volume metric instead of a random cup to band size ratio, I was a bit intrigued.
Luckily for me there’s a Jockey outlet close by (I went to the store in Northbend, Wa) so I hightailed it over there to check out the selection. Which, to be fair, is not that great right now. There are 5 lines, with three colors (black, beige, and white). So not the world’s most shattering selection, but they are supposedly working on that. Now every other bra shopping trip I’ve ever gone on has ended in frustration, usually with me on the brink of tears. This one however was very different due to the fitting. Because of their new sizing system you have someone actually go into the fitting room with you and fit you into a new bra. Note: this does mean you will be naked from the pants up with a stranger. But my lady was super professional and warm and kind and I was very comfortable with her there. Once your rough size has been determined using the giant volumetric cup things and your preferences in bra styles noted, you’re fitting agent should head out for a few moments to gather up some bras to try out. My lady said she’d come back looking like a shoe salesperson and she was spot on. These bras come in boxes because they’re that serious about their bras. We tried on bras until we found the exact size and line, within my preferences, that fit my girls perfectly. In their sizing I’m a 34/9, each number of which came from an actual measurement instead of out some fashion guru’s ass.
From there I headed back out into the store (well, I got dressed first, then went back out into the store) as she cleaned up the fitting room and the sizing cups for the next person. Once she was done, she brought my bra to the counter and filled in all my info (name, size, preferences, etc) into the computer and the network so that I could walk into any Jockey store and say “Hey, gimme my bra! Beige me!” and after they get done looking at me like I’m some sorta weirdo, they’d get me my exact size and line and the color I wanted out for me. Which is very nice. I also got to put in requests for more colors, although I was limited in saying that I wanted a purple option and a leopard print option. We could not find a way to let me request a purple leopard print option. It was the most negative moment of the whole experience. Well, that and the $60 price tag, but Jockey apparently has an amazing return policy that lets you bring it back if you’re not satisfied with it, even after having worn it. Which makes that $60 less of a punch to my pocketbook’s risk-averse gonads.
Not that I’m thinking of taking this sweet thing back. It’s the most comfortable bra I’ve ever owned. The new resin underwire is awesome and feels very supportive without being intrusive. The straps and band are super comfortable too. Of course the most important thing is I know I’m wearing the right size for my body. Your mileage may vary of course, because they do not have an infinitely large size range (yet?), and their bras just may not be comfy for you, but I do highly suggest giving them a try. For the best results and if you are near one of their stores, go in and get sized in person instead of their online thing.
Finding self-acceptance in your body is a hard path to travel, especially in the consumerist culture we live in. People literally profit off of our low self esteem. It doesn’t have to be that way and the way to fight back is to learn to love yourself and give yourself the clothing your body deserves: clothes that fit well and support you through all the amazing things you do every day. Not to sound too cheesy, but if you have to spend $60 on a bra, spend it at Jockey because, in my experience, their system does support you in all your body’s glory.