I don’t know the name of my generation – I believe it’s Gen X. It’s the generation of the late 70s to early 80s, new wave, punk, and Pizza Rolls were invented. Nike, Smurfs, ET, aerosol Aqua Net, paint splattered fabric, and glam rock. Texas Instrument calculators and the one, intimidating MacIntosh computer that suddenly appeared in the classroom, and you no longer finished your work early, because the teacher would say, “Do you want to explore on the MacIntosh?”, but dissecting a pig’s heart in the 2nd grade was far more entertaining. A generation when landlines and payphones were ways of communication, and kids were still taught to write in cursive and tilt the paper for italics. A time when no one had heard of sunscreen, only tanning oil, and bras came with an underwire below each boob, and push-up cost a little extra. That was truly the good ol days.
Bra shopping today means searching for your bra in a sea of wireless, thin, nonpadded bras that slip over your head. They have zero support, especially for the itty bitty titty committee, and the few times I’ve tried a sports bra, I’ve been thrown into a claustrophobic panic attack trying to get it on and off. These bras of today are built similar to a sports bra, and I want no part of them. I think there was a ‘study’ that underwire might lead to cancer, so the industry leaned toward these new wireless contraptions that are like half a tank top.
If you grew up a flat-chested, bony, little A-cup like me, you appreciated underwire with all the pushup you could find. Otherwise, you got teased as a boy-chest, mosquito bites, and ironing board from your older, curvier sister and at school. I should mention, I did finally embrace my skinny little body in my early 30s.
Women with larger cups who’d started to sag appreciated the pushup for pushing the girls back to their original positions, as well as sluts, celebrities, and when you want to feel super sexy. All hail the Wonderbra! Pushup bras help you put your best boobs forward. They pack confidence, security, and if anyone brushes up against you, there’s a barrier of thick padding between you. They are boobie protectors. No headlights are on when it’s cold out. They keep the nips safe and warm.
Cut to today, at the tail end of my 40s, I’ve moved out of the Hollywood Hills, to a more walkable area of downtown Hollywood, in a high-rise luxury apartment. It has all the bells and whistles – a gym, pool, dog park, 24-hour security – did I mention a pool? A pool where I can work on my tan in my spare time, listen to my 80s Ladies playlist on Pandora because I refuse to change to the newer apps, and ignore the 20-somethings flittering about in their unlined, unwired tops that are basically two triangles covering the nipples, and thong bottoms, leaving nothing about their bodies a mystery.
For the pool at my new building, I’d bought several bikinis, but kept mixing and matching the bottoms with one top – the only underwire top I’d found, which wasn’t perfect, but it felt better than the wireless tops that I’d given a chance to. I like to think I’m confident in my skin. At 49, I’m the same size I was in my early 20s and post one full-term pregnancy, so…the skinny little sister shame I was tortured with from my oldest sibling, turned out to not be a bad thing after all.
Then I found myself getting ready for the pool, staring in the mirror, making turns, then changing swimsuits. None of them were just right for my now, middle aged body.
One day I was piddling time before my physical therapy appointment for frozen shoulder – another gift for women my age and walked next door to a mall with a Macys. I hadn’t been there in years. At the entrance were swimsuits. I stopped dead in my tracks when my eyes scanned over a fuchsia, sexy one piece. One pieces were definite boy chested suits on me, so I’d always stuck with two pieces and self-consciously kept my belly stretch marks from a teenage pregnancy covered if anyone came near. But this one-piece stood out. It had underwire and pushup padding! Holy moly! My best asset has always been my butt, I think, and the sides of the hips were cut high. I so badly wanted to try this thing on, but I needed to get to my appointment.
At night, I’d go to Macys.com and look at the suit. Then I noticed…it also came in a subtle leopard print with only fuchsia trim. Holier Moly! And it was ON SALE. I needed this swimsuit. It was a gift from the Universe being presented to me.
After my next PT appointment, I decided that if I happen to go into Macys and they happen to have that perfect swimsuit in my size, and it happens to be in leopard, because I can only wear fuchsia if I have a super dark tan (gotta consider the off season), then I’d try it on.
There it was. My size, ON SALE, 60% OFF. What the What? I snatched it up in my size and one size bigger (for the pandemic pounds I’d gained). I found my way to the fitting room. I’d worn thong underwear planning the fitting, so that I didn’t have to make a wedgie with my regular panties when I tried it on. As I stepped into the satin-feeling suit and pulled it up in one convenient piece, wincing as I tried to get it over my right shoulder, I raised my head to the mirror and WOW. Just wow. Who’s that hot 49-year-old staring back at me? There was no criticism coming from my inner grandmother.
It. Was. Perfect. It hugged all the right places. There was a criss-cross stitching that went up the sides with skin peeking out to add va-voom, that I hadn’t noticed before. I was ready to go to that pool right now!
When I got to the checkout, I handed over my swimsuit and spilled my enthusiasm about the young 20-somethings in their thongs at the pool and how I felt so confident in that fitting room, that I can’t wait to march out there and sit amongst them. This is THE perfect swimsuit. The salesgirl quietly looked at me as I rambled about the way it fit. She was a former version of me. Naïve, brunette, skinny as a rail, flat chested, in her early 20s. She looked at me while she felt and squeezed the pushup padding and ran her fingers along the underwire, as if I didn’t notice this irregularity and it needed to be sent to Marshall’s or TJ Max. “You’ll see one day”, I told her. “I used to be your age, but we all get older and our bodies change, even if our weight doesn’t”. As she kept quiet and removed the security tag, I remembered how awkward it felt when older women used to tell me such things as, “I used to have a butt like that when I was your age”. I decided to bite my tongue, swipe my debit card, and hurry on my way home to try on my swimsuit again in front of my bathroom mirror.
The swimsuit is still flawless. I’m now strutting to the pool with my big sunhat and perfectly situated boobs in the pushed up position, underwired compartments that they feel comfortable in. I even had a neighbor mention seeing a ‘girl’ trapped at the pool in the three-digit heat while the cops came to our building on a false robbery call. I asked, ‘was she wearing a leopard print one piece? That was me.” “wow, that was YOU?” I confidently nodded, held my head high, and prissed down the hallway back to my apartment.