A few years ago, I figured out “Victoria’s Secret”. That bitch is soooooo jealous of my giant breasts that she absolutely refuses to sell “my” size bra in “her” store. What the hell is up with that, Victoria? I mean, can a blind chick just buy a bra or must she go bra-less? “Mostly Wonderful” and I decided to head to the mall to get the kids some new shoes. After wrangling my daughters around Stride Rite for forty minutes, we bought them some pretzels to gnaw on. Surprisingly, they appeared pretty relaxed, even though we were dangerously close to bedtime. It was about an hour before the mall was closing when I requested some alone time to shop for new bras.
We found a nice bench in front of my go-to plus-sized store, and I left my husband with the girls. With half a pretzel still uneaten, I figured I had at least twenty minutes before my daughters went into meltdown mode.
As soon as I walked in, I approached an employee who was folding shirts. “Hi, is it possible to get measured for a bra?” One long pause later, I was told to follow her into the dressing rooms. Once we got inside, she asked me to lift my shirt.
“Ohhhh….” she said.
After 14 years of marriage, I’m used to hearing “OOOHH” anytime I pick up my shirt. (Wink. Wink.)
However, if I’m being totally honest, I was admittedly a little surprised by this young woman’s reaction to seeing my boob-age.
“What’s going on over there?” She was making some kind of motion with her hands.
Because of my vision loss, I didn’t know if she was pointing behind me or if some of the pretzel I had bought my kids was sitting in my cleavage (not out of the realm of possibility). Finally, it dawned on me. She was pointing to the scars near my armpits.
Quickly, I rattled off my life story. I told the young lady I was a breast cancer survivor and had had some surgeries. I explained my treatments left me legally blind and with post-chemotherapy alopecia. I said I preferred not to wear underwire because they tend to hurt my scars. I wrapped up the “interview” portion of my bra fitting by divulging I was a mother of two and had not purchased a new bra in close to two years. (SHAME ON ME)
“Uh, huh. So, you haven’t been measured for a bra in almost 2 years” she asked.
“Yup.” I answered.
“So you’ve been wearing this one the whole time?”
“Well, not this same one. I do my laundry.” (She didn’t get my joke).
Quickly, she snapped her tape measure and wrapped it around my chest. After rattling off a number, it was clear I was not only wearing the wrong size bra, but I had gone up one full cup. Needless to say, my husband would be thrilled. (My apologies if you didn’t find that funny, but #truth).
Before I had a chance to pull my shirt down, the saleswoman was gone. POOF! Out the dressing room door.
Seriously, those shimmer and shine genies couldn’t have disappeared any faster.
I was left alone to navigate this retail jungle of intimate apparel. It was just me, a handheld magnifier and an unhappy pair of bra-less, saggin’ boobs.
I carefully maneuvered my way through racks of bras, touching each one of them like a nervous teenage boy.
Wire. Wire. More wire. Uggh!
I tried looking at the tags for sizing, but the font was just too small, even for my magnifier. Frustrated, I attempted to run my fingers over the numbers and letters embossed on the bra’s hangers. No luck. I absolutely could not “see” the sizes of any of the bras.
With the clock was ticking, I knew it was only a matter of time before I heard one of my toddlers screaming for me outside the store. Defeated, I went back to the same salesperson, as she appeared to be the only one working aside from the cashier.
“I’m sorry. I hate to bother you, but can you help me? I can’t find any bras without the underwire and I can’t see the numbers on the tags or the hangers.”
She stood there looking at me before taking a deep breath. “I need to fold these shirts. I don’t have time.”
She darted across to the opposite end of the store. Again, the genie had disappeared.
I walked around aimlessly for another moment. Miraculously, I was able to find “one” wire fee bra I thought might fit. My plan was to go into the dressing room, privately snap a picture of the tag, and hope that my phone could read the sizing.
When I got to the archway of the dressing room, there stood the same evasive genie. She was giggling and helping another customer with a bra fitting. When she saw me staring at her through the half-opened door; she shut it in my face.
I threw the bra on a pile of clothes and walked out.
I’ve never been the “shrinking violet” type. If someone “does me wrong” so to speak; I usually open up my mouth. But here’s the thing I’ve learned since losing my eyesight and becoming a mother…you have to pick your battles.
Sure, I could have made a scene in the store, crying outrage over the fact this ignorant saleswoman didn’t want to help me find a bra. I could have pitched a fit and screamed discrimination, but honestly, what good would that have done?
In the end, I would have only drawn more attention to my blindness and big boobs. My kids would have had to wait longer for their baths and I would have been delayed another half an hour in getting home.
I decided to go a different route, heading home bra-less.
As soon as I got home, I contacted the store’s corporate office via email. I explained what had happened, the lack of sensitivity towards my disability, and my previous cancer. The next day, I received an apology via email, with a request for my phone number so the District Manager could contact me.
As someone who has no problem using the occasional “four-letter” word, I’m going to go out on a limb here by pairing a Chinese proverb in this blog about my bra-less boobs.
“A small hole not mended in time will become a big hole much more difficult to mend.”
My brief dealings with this particular saleswoman lead me to believe that anything I shared with her about my diseases and my visual impairment was a waste of my time.
It was obvious this girl was not interested in helping me shop for my bra. Maybe it was because of my disability. Maybe it was because she had shirts to fold.
Hopefully, reaching out directly to the company will be the start of a bigger conversation, where this “District Manager,” (whom I have yet to talk to) might make a point of ensuring this store’s staff is properly trained in assisting women who may be sick or disabled.
Like the proverb says, small holes lead to bigger ones. If this company chooses to ignore my experience and doesn’t make an attempt to “mend” this small hole in my local store, they could inevitably open themselves up to bigger problems as a corporate entity. I’m fairly certain most women would agree we all have the right to shop for intimate apparel in a respectful, safe environment.
When I left the mall Bra-less that night, it’s safe to say my boobs remained in desperate need of a lift. However, I felt confident in how I chose to handle this situation.
I’m slowly getting a better grasp of what it means to be a blind mother and how to advocate for myself with regards to my disability. Trust me, I will be staying on top of this store and will follow up with the District Manager.
In the interim, I have no foreseeable opportunities to go to another store to buy new bras.
But fear not Blind Motherhood followers, though my bra-less boobs may continue to sag, I shall hold my head up high and go forth… “never losing sight of life, love, and laughter.”