I’m a big girl. And I have a large chest. Anyone who has ever met me probably knows that is the first thing anyone notices about me. And it’s fine. I have grown to love them, despite the problems they give me (see:back problems). With a voluptuous chest comes great responsibility to hold them up. So I must get bras. And any full-figured, large chested woman will answer, “Right, and have you seen the bras they have out there for us? Something out of Grandma’s closet.” And most of the time, they are right. We always complain, “Why aren’t there any pretty bras for me?” But this problem isn’t exclusive to just large-chested women, but also plus-sized women. Our choices for clothes continually seems to be those of a handful of brands: Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, Oldy Navy (online only now! Thanks, ON!…)(…I hope you caught that sarcasm…) and Torrid. If you are lucky in some areas, another low-budget pop-up plus-size store will be open in your mall, like Fashion to Figure, or the like. And most women think this is all that is open to us. So young 20/30 year-old women are doomed to look like either 40-year-old woman or the other side of the spectrum, teenyboppers with our muffin tops, breastages, and other parts of flesh popping out of ill-fitting clothes in an attempt to look semi-youthful but looking immature due to our inability to adequately dress ourselves (When were muffin tops ever okay? Really now?)
This has pissed me off. And we let this cycle keep going because we refuse to actually venture out of our comfort zone. I hear a lot of “well, I tried this store and they don’t fit me.” or “I don’t like shopping online.” And I understand these complaints wholeheartedly. But women, we need to stop being irresponsible. That’s right, I said it. When was the last time you measured yourself? I mean, really measured yourself? Go ahead and do it now. Then write those numbers down. Yes, it sucks. But it’s necessary. And guess what? Numbers are an objective element. They have no soul. They have no meaning other than numerical value. If you want to attach positivity or negativity to any number, that’s humans overthinking stuff. The only think I can kinda understand is negative numbers. It’s in the name of the word, I mean. But I actually think they are kinda fun. Things go apeshit when you start multiplying them and dividing and squaring. Woo!! But besides negative numbers, why are we negative about numbers? If you wanna get cranky about big numbers, go look at other countries.
Europeans are ok because they go by 28, 30, 32, 34 since those are based off of actual inches. That’s fine and dandy. But look at UK sizing, our lovely neighbor… They are literally 2 sizes higher than US sizes for the same thing. A size 12 is a size 16. A 14 is an 18. And so on. Why? BECAUSE THEY SAID SO. Why not? Aren’t sizes arbitrary to begin with? Why not go crazy? How does that make you feel? Confused? Me too. Who cares. Korean sizing goes by 44, 66, 88, then 105, 110, 120. Or something like that. What on earth is this? It’s your circumference in milimeters. Why milimeters? WHY NOT? But then bra sizing is in inches. 28, 30, 32…. And then cup sizing is a whole other ballgame. Am I DD or an F or a FF? Wha? That’s right. FF and GG’s are something. And quite normal. But people must remember, bra sizes are NOT universal. A UK 40E and a US 40E are not the same. Let me explain it this way. I’m a 40GG. I thought I was a 42DDD. But if a bra band is loose and comfortable, you are wearing the wrong size. Straps don’t hold puppies up and support, band holds puppies IN and supports too. Oh yeah. Think about that. But the 40GG is a UK size. Why? America doesn’t have GG’s. They stop doubling letters after D’s… Britain doesn’t. So I’m a 40J in America. But you know what? I don’t care. J means nothing. It just means I just have to look harder. But you know what? These bras exist. “But not in America!” Right! Because we have let them run us around. We have let them steal our money and satisfication.
Full-figured women, get your asses over to the other side of the pond. What I mean is, go online and look at British sites. Or European sites. They have demanded fashion at all shapes and they get it. Simply Be, Asos, Eloquii, etc. Stop limiting yourself to the mall. You have freedom, you just have to be willing to give them a shot.
Now, my other qualm with some people are the ones who are like, “It’s too expensive. I don’t wanna pay $30 for a T-shirt.” That’s fine. Don’t pay it. But don’t expect to get good quality. And don’t expect to NOT be supporting companies who utilize countries with lower wages, poor working conditions, among other problems. Do you remember the Indonesian Manufacting Complex Building collapse a few years ago? Companies like Old Navy, Banana Republic, United Colors of Benneton, etc were all producing their clothes there. I know you think “These companies probably never realized it. They were too removed from the process.” But actually, they aren’t that far removed or even removed at all. Profit margins are more important. And we gotta cut costs somewhere. You wanted your shirt cheap. It comes at a price. But even Banana Republic, Gap, the clothes aren’t very high quality. But they charge more. Because they play you.
Sometimes the higher prices ensure good quality, sometimes they don’t. You really have to see about the brand. Check tags. That’s why they are there. To ensure quality. And while the quality is one thing, people must also remember to learn how to treat good quality garments. You can’t just throw everything in the washing machine, no matter how convenient it is. Those bras you just spent $60-70 EACH on? Yeah, just carelessly toss them in the washing machine and dryer and allow them to be thrown around at speeds of 40mph give or take. And you are putting your lace through that? Sure, I’ll do that. Let’s be practical, Yes, they go through some wear and tear through the day but you can make things last longer by taking care of your garments, especially lingerie. You can make any pantyhose last months with daily use if you know how to wash it correctly.
This is a reason why many Europeans don’t own many clothes and clothes are priced higher. The quality is better, they take of their clothes better, and they understand that clothing is an investment. They don’t buy just anything for the sake of wanting something. They spend more of their budget on eating, or something else.
Another fascinating point is, when I got to Korea, I noticed everyone had designer goods. Why? One reason, they want to look good in front of others. Koreans don’t invite people to their house like Westeners. So the only thing they can show is themselves. Their clothes make them presentable. Americans want a clean and presentable house, others prefer making themselves presentable since that’s what people see EVERYDAY, vs. just at a party. It’s a better reflection of themselves in their opinion. Another reason, most Koreans will say, “They have good AS.” meaning, it lasts a while and if something breaks or gets ruined down the line, they can get it fixed by the manufacturer. Can your walmart bag come with that guarantee? Nope. But most high-end brands here do, such as Prada, Burberry, Coach, etc. They will fix it for you at a small charge of about $10-30. Sure it’s a bit much for scuffs or ripped leather, but beats by a whole new bag. So when our Walmart bag gets ripped, we just chuck the whole thing and toss a whole new, adding more trash to the landfills. Some people repair it, sure, but who has time for that? You can’t even handwash your bras but you will sew shut a $10 Walmart bag? Priorities…
An interesting concept to wrap ones mind around is the idea of carrying around luxury goods. Now, in Korea, we carry it around to show how much wealth we have, among many other reasons. We want to look good and give a good impression to others. But Americans flaunt their cheapness. And I mean, “Oh, this little thing? I bought this at Walmart for a steal. It was really cheap.” or “Look at those people. I don’t have enough money to ride around in a Benz. Like I have money to burn on that.” First, you are flaunting your poor status in the eyes of some people. While we might think we are flaunting “our shopping-savvy mind” and our ability to “get the best price”, to many cultures it can look like you just can’t afford the real thing. A lot of my students used to be very surprised that we would happily say we got something very cheap. It is looked down upon in their culture. But this is just a different way of thinking, not a wrong one. I’m not criticizing the American mindset either. Getting a bargain is great, but there is something as too cheap. Remember that stores buy stock with intentions to discount it later to ridiculous levels. Higher end brands don’t always do that.
Just some things to think about when shopping. I know my shopping style has definitely changed while being here. Some might think I am fancy because I buy high end cosmetics rather than some cheap stuff. But when after buying cheaper and more convenient products I ended up with cystic acne scars and have been able to heal my skin plus get my skin good enough that I get compliments on a weekly basis for it, I’m convinced I’m investing in worthwhile products that really do make differences.
Which is cheaper, paying more money upfront, take care of the product, and enjoy it for years? or spend very little, put less effort into maintenance, but have to replace it every 6 months to a year? Depends on the product, sure. But my current philosophy, quality over quantity.