Two summers ago my mother got a breast reduction.
It was a long time coming.
All my life it seemed her boobs functioned simultaneously as a source of humor and disgust. Growing up we invented songs about them. Actually, my mom invented songs about them. She’s goofy like that. She’s never taken herself too seriously. It’s her greatest character strength.
When my sister PK was in kindergarten and the teacher led the class in a rendition of “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” my five-year-old sister sang, “Do your boobs hang low?”
Followed by, “Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow?”
The kindergarten teacher was aghast. When she broached the subject with my mother, my mom sheepishly admitted to teaching us the song. It was something she used to sing as a kid. She was merely passing down the tradition.
She made light of her knockers, though there was nothing light about her knockers.
My mom used to remove her bra at night and sigh at the relief of freeing her shoulders from the weight of her sandbags. Her bra straps cut permanent red grooves in her shoulders the width of my fingers.
At 48 she finally got the reduction she had talked about for YEARS. It was the largest breast reduction the surgeon had ever done. And in the end my mom had C cups for my wedding day.
I got permission from her to write this post after she shared with me a story about what happened to her vast collection of F and G cup boulder holders.
“They’re traveling all over the world,” she said casually.
“Wait, what? Traveling bras?” I asked.
“Yeah. I didn’t tell you?”
“No, you most certainly did not.”
That’s when the Mothership told me that she had given all her old brassieres away to a large-breasted girlfriend.
“I had enough to fill a garbage bag,” she said. “And you know those things were expensive. Bras that size aren’t cheap.”
(I’m familiar. She used to order them from the JCPenny catalog.)
Apparently the large-breasted girlfriend has large-breasted sisters, among whom she spread my mother’s bras.
As my mother began to rattle off the different cities in which these women live, I couldn’t help but picture her bras with their thick supportive straps and cavernous cups physically flying from city to city, parachuting into new bedrooms and new lingerie drawers.
My mother’s bras were as much a part of her as were her boobs. On more than one occasion she’d strap one to her head like a hat and gallop into the kitchen to make my sisters and I laugh for no reason. Now they were gone. Passed on to worthy women.
My mom felt good about the fact that they hadn’t gone to waste. She’s a pragmatic woman. Other women might have set fire to their bras and danced wildly around the burning satin, content in the symbolism.
Instead my mother said this:
“One of my bras is in Jamaica right now! Jamaica! I think it’s great. I’ve never seen the world, but my bras are!”
PS. Photo by Broken Piggy Bank via Flickr. In case you’re curious, there exits a rural fence in the Middle of Nowhere, New Zealand that’s lined with bras. For obvious reasons, The Bra Fence had become somewhat of a tourist attraction and due to predictable controversy caused by nagging, uptight government officials, the fence was reportedly rid of the undergarments in 2006. Locals guess the fence began accumulating bras some time in 1999. At one point it held more than 7,400 brassieres. And yes, it has a Facebook page.