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SexPlusPerk: When Boobs Deserve More
Sonya JF Barnett just wants some nice, not insanely padded, lingerie. Is that too much to ask?

My tits are huge these days. I don’t know what the hell is happening to me now that I’ve hit my forties, but for the last little while, the biggest symptom of my menstrual cycle is the enlargement of my breasts. Sometimes I love it and marvel at them and take pictures of them and emphasize this fact to The Man. I sit at my desk and look down from time to time and think holy shit. Other times I’m lamenting because along with the increased bra cup comes tenderness and soreness — not a great combination when all I want to do is feel myself up.

I have an interesting relationship with my boobs. Sometimes I like them and sometimes I don’t. My regular B cup is, for the most part, all right with me. My boobs aren’t normally large, but instead are happy, perky pair that will look great when I’m 70. But I was a late bloomer and having no boobs at all while other girls in my grade school were already bra shopping was not a fun experience, mostly thanks to the stupidity that comes from pre/pubescent boys. Because at that age, most of them are cruel assholes.

I finally got a pair that’s considered almost respectable, and by the time I hit my late twenties, I became at one with what I had been dealt. I worked with what had.

Despite this, there haven’t been many mornings that go by that I don’t wish for at least one cup size larger, something that would give me actual cleavage. I’ve got boobs, but I don’t really have cleavage. Sometimes I think I would be a completely different person if I walked around with boobs big enough to interfere with my peripheral vision. I see them almost guiding me along my path, like a divining rod to my destination. This is how I imagine men walk around, their dicks swinging or pointing, leading the charge, laying down a path of confidence. Whenever I’m outfitted with a strap-on, I feel mighty powerful and long for a fleshy extra appendage of my own, so I imagine that bigger boobs would instill the same self assurance. Without them, I have to rely on the swing of my arms when I walk. Some will call me a terrible feminist for wanting slightly bigger boobs, but I don’t care. I happen to like an hourglass figure. Not too big, not too small. Just right.

Of course, I’m just whinging, because I actually hate wearing a bra, and bigger boobs means bigger bras. They’re uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. But I can fantasize.

The interesting thing about my newly forged breasts is that they don’t shrink down to ‘normal’ as much as they used to once my body stops its cycle. Almost like they can feel me thinking “Wait! Don’t go! We love you so!” My changed physique has me reevaluating my delicates drawer and often wandering into whatever lingerie boutique I have time to come across.

This is where things become problematic. I’ve always had issues entering shops like Victoria’s Secret and La Senza and their plastic ideas of what’s sexy (the latter of which I no longer step foot in due to their incredibly poor manufacturing quality). From the moment you get near one, you’re immediately made to feel inadequate. Even in my line of work, it’s not often I come across somebody who looks like the woman splashed larger-than-life in the window posters. With a scoff, I walk by them and enter the black and pink faux boudoir and instantly feel pity for the sales staff who have to listen to the egregious Top 40 sugary drivel that blares from the sound system. But they’re probably the ones who picked it, so the pity I feel is mostly for me who has to endure it the next few minutes. 

And here’s where it gets really shitty. Though I’m not a 34D, and have finally become OK with my itty bitties, Victoria is hell bent on telling me that I should be a 34D, and I’m not going to have any say in the matter. This is because every single goddamned bra in the place is padded. Ok, not every one. There’s one in the corner that has a stupid-ass bow and showgirl crystals weaved into it or there’s the Playtex CrossMyHeart style at the back of the store. I move on.

But the others? All padded. And not with the option of removing any of it – like the old days when some bras came with tiny pockets and removable inserts – but the bra itself is just a wad of candy-coloured sponge with straps. The only differences are colour, pattern or degree of frill. Whichever one I choose, I’m stuck with showing the world that what you see isn’t actually what you’re going to get. It’s infuriating to me that how I present myself will automatically include a deception. Is it that most people who shop for bras have no problem with this foolery? Surely, I can’t be the only one that doesn’t want to fake it.

The most popular when it comes to lacy underthings, Victoria’s Secret and La Senza are geared toward a younger demographic, one that certainly hasn’t gone through the routine of pubescent hate-my-body shaming to adult be-OK-with-my-body confidence. Young women are stuck in the realm of whatever-you’ve-got-isn’t-good-enough bullshit. Adult shoppers like me are just collateral damage.

Sure, there are other boutiques that have better offerings in the sense that their bras aren’t stuffed with flammable sponge but are, instead, stylish constructs of lace and sophisticated pretty. I would prefer to have more of these in my closet, but my wallet just can’t bear it. A beautiful well-made lace bra can easily range between $80 and $300. As much as I’d love to fill my delicates drawer with Coco de Mer and Agent Provocateur, it’s just not feasible, nor do these shops have locations in Ontario. So for the day-to-day, I’m stuck with the crappily-constructed padded nonsense of VS and La Senza (incidentally, both companies are now owned by Limited Brands, so judging any difference is getting increasingly difficult, except perceived cach)}. Or, I could go to The Bay and wander around their beige lingerie department, which is where sexy goes to die. All frustrating, because my boobs are great and they deserve nice things.

Whatever the case, as a (temporarily single) working mother, I don’t have time to galavant around town to indie boutiques like Nearly Naked or Secrets From Your Sister, hoping I’ll be able to return with a few affordable somethings that fit my real body. With shops like VC and La Senza all over the city, it really shouldn’t be a great expectation to come home from a lingerie boutique at the closest mall with a few bras that don’t make me look like I’m trying too hard, or have completely ignored any ideals toward sophistication. I’m happy with what I’ve got; I don’t need to feel that it’s still not enough.

Good thing I work from home, where my bras can often stay in their drawer. Though I do still need to hold my boobs when I walk down the stairs, I can at least cop a pretty sweet feel.


Got a question about sex in art, relationships, parenting? Send Sonya a note at dearmadame@torontostandard.com. Anonymity assured.

Sonya JF Barnett, also known as “The Madame,” is the founder of an erotic arts community called The Keyhole Sessions and the co-founder of SlutWalk Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @KeyholeSessions

For more, follow us on Twitter @TorontoStandard and subscribe to our newsletter.

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