support cannot be overstated

Dear Uma: Adventurous, always ready to try something new, fearless, and aging; that just about covers the personal qualities that led me into trying on the latest style in the ever-evolving world of the brassiere.

Dear Uma:

Adventurous, always ready to try something new, fearless, and aging; that

just about covers the personal qualities that led me into trying on the latest style in the ever-evolving world of the brassiere.

Someone had told Cee, who then told me, about the Unbelievabra, a garment designed to accomplish all those things so dearly wished for by the middle-aged woman who wants the appearance of being fit and health conscious without actually having to move too much, or give up her martinis and chocolates.

The Unbelievabra, we were to believe, lifted breasts to perky heights while at the same time held in a protruding tummy and did away with the cursed ‘muffin top’. I had to ask Cee what exactly a muffin top was, other than the ones I was acquainted with, the ones containing raisins and walnuts and eaten warm and slathered with butter.

Cee informed me, somewhat bitterly, it was something I need not concern myself with, but I could use the help offered by this undergarment in pulling in my stomach and giving my breasts some lift and separation.

A shop in Whitehorse – the city of Gore Tex windbreakers, expensive hiking boots, bicycles and kayaks – carries this bra. Finding myself with a half an hour to spend before meeting Pete for lunch, I entered the shop and enquired about the miraculous bra. I had forgotten the name, but the young, slender clerk knew exactly which one I was interested in, saying the garment was a wildly successful design and was selling at an amazing rate.

A glimpse of the price tag revealed this miracle of invention came at a hefty price. But the clerk’s enthusiasm was contagious; I couldn’t wait to see for myself the transformation she described for me. The difference would be so marked, she assured me, I would want to buy new clothes, or get my hair cut – something to celebrate the new, improved Heather.

Although I don’t share the passionate interest in appearance of most of the women I know, or know of, I have been known to occasionally get caught up in the hype, the tantalizing promise of change, the various industries that make their billions from marketing solely to women are so good at creating.

The fitting room was spacious, always a feature that encourages me to take the time to try something on. The clerk sat on a stool outside the curtain and gave me tips on how to insert myself into the piece of fabric I was now holding in my hand; a piece of fabric which looked as though it might have been made for a small child. It was an unusual bra in that there were no hooks, or any fastenings at all; it was all one long piece of fabric with a regular-looking bra and straps at the top. It’s far too small for me, I told the clerk; there is no way I’ll be able to put it on, especially when it has no hooks. Oh no, she assured me, that was indeed the appropriate size for me; the garment would stretch.

It had better stretch a great deal or it would not go over my foot, I thought, pulling at the thing.

Many women find it easier to put the Unbelievabra on by stepping into it, the young clerk told me, while others prefer pulling it over their heads.

I had taken off my shirt only, and loathe to go to the bother of unlacing my running shoes and pulling off my jeans, I elected to pull it over my head, rolling it into a sort of doughnut shape in order to do so.

I put my arms straight up over my head and put my hands through the doughnut hole. It did stretch, but when it was just over my elbows, it was so tight I couldn’t move my hands to pull it down further. I was trapped, in a vaguely bondage sort of way, and unable to move my arms at all. I tried bending low and hooking the bra with my booted toe to pull it off, but I couldn’t get down low enough without falling over.

Suddenly aware that the pose was not an attractive one, but desperate, and beginning to panic, I asked the clerk to come in and free me.

To her credit, she did not so much as crack a smile or quirk a lip; she simply very briskly and in one strong smooth motion, pulled the garment onto my body and left the room.

Well! It was without a doubt an Unbelievabra – I could not believe how I looked. My tummy was level with my hip bones and my hips were squeezed at least a size smaller than the jeans I was wearing. My waist, too, was inches smaller, but it was my breasts that showed the most profound change.

I have never been over-endowed with the sort of boobs that they say men dream of, but I have a respectable B-cup sized chest. Now, with the help of the Unbelievabra, I had no chest at all. My breasts were squashed flatter than I would have believed possible, becoming part of my torso, while the empty cups of the bra stood out beseechingly.

As soon as I’d figured out what had happened – what power in this fabric! – I reached down and gathered up all the loose breast flesh possibilities and arranged them in the cups, carefully making the amount even. This took a great deal more time than it has taken to write it, and left me hot and sweaty from the tremendous effort involved.

Now I had a jutting shelf of breast, with what might have been an impressive cleavage, if it hadn’t been directly under my chin, and horizontal. When I bent my head, ever so slightly, the effect was sort of like looking down at another part of my anatomy from a new and decidedly weird angle.

Realizing whatever this bra was doing for hundreds of women, it was not going to do it for me, I dragged the straps from my shoulders. Again, not easily accomplished; some Velcro snaps would make a world of difference. At one point, I remember, I entertained the notion of chewing through them, the thought of the cost of the bra was the only thing that stopped me.

Nothing was going to make a difference in extricating myself from the bra; I fought down a rising sense of hysteria as I struggled mightily to roll it down over my hips, grunting and panting with the effort. All the while, the clerk was telling me anecdotes from grateful and amazed customers. She did acknowledge that I was having some difficulties by saying that she’d heard some women have their husbands help them with the Unbelievabra.

Thinking I would lose all respect for any woman who would allow anyone in on this humiliating and revealing act of vanity, I managed to roll the bra down to just above my knees. It would go no further. If there is a fire, I thought, or any sort of need to move quickly, I was going to go down like a roped calf, only larger.

Once again, I was forced to call upon the clerk’s assistance and once again she succeeded in acting as though there was nothing at all extraordinary about this performance.

I thanked her as briefly as I decently could and made my escape, red-faced, with my hair on end and my clothing half fastened.

When I arrived at the restaurant, Pete had eaten already; I’d been over an hour in the shop.

The ideal tyranny, it is said, is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims; the most perfect slaves, those which blissfully and without awareness enslave themselves.

Such are the wearers of the Unbelievabra.



Heather Bennett is a writer

who lives in Watson Lake.