>When I was in fifth grade, my mom (as nicely as possible), brought two ugly truths to my attention: I had BO and I was starting to get a rack. I could deal with wearing deodorant, but the thought of a bra mortified me. Why couldn’t I continue slouching in my baggy pink and lavender sweatshirts (with rhinestones – awesome!)? What did I need this bra shit for?

“You need a good bra so you won’t sag when you get older. Grandma didn’t wear good bras when she was young and now she’s saggy,” my mom explained as she dragged my sullen self to the special bra shop, where I was to be inflicted with new heretofore unknown indignities. (Fat lot of good it did me anyway, but that’s another story for another time. I like to ratchet up the suspense.)

The bra shop had been an institution in downtown Skokie for years and was run by women who had been measuring ladies for bras since the bra was invented. I was ushered into a fitting room and told to remove my shirt by an ancient wise woman. Don’t worry, honey,” she rasped,” I’ve seen it all.” (Years later, this did not comfort my sister when she went to get her first bra, as she was convinced the store was manned by old lesbians who got off looking at their clients. I think she still believes this.) She studied me for an eternity, and left the room to get some bras for me to try on.

There was no escape. I was really going to wind up with at least one bra. This inevitability was socked home by the bras themselves. Each one had cute little bows or flowers, or worse both, sewn all over them. What the fuck was wrong with the people who made these things? (Yes, I realize that normal girls were excited to be getting boobs that required a womanly bra, and therefore appreciated the girly touches, and that’s what the manufacturers were thinking. But still.) If I was going to have to wear a bra, I wanted it to be as plain as possible, the easier to hide. As soon as I got home, I cut all the feminine touches off. I felt a little bit better. The less I thought about or noticed my boobs, the better. Growing up sucks!

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