Love Me, Love My Imperfections
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the April 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
As a teenager in the early 1960s, I had a small waist, slim legs, breasts as pointy as ballistic missiles. Or at least my bra made them look that way. Like my mother, I was flat-chested. Unlike her, I didn't care. When I went to college and became a hippie, I casually trashed my padded bras. Years later, while my friends were cramming themselves into devices engineered to hoist their bosoms back up to sea level, I wore a soft scrap of lingerie designed for 13-year-olds.
It was only curiosity that made me volunteer, in 1994, at the women's magazine where I then worked, to test-drive a hot new product called the Wonderbra. The solid construction made me feel ridiculously top-heavy; my sexiest inclination was to claw at my now-itchy breasts. When I ventured outside, though, I heard a couple of guys say, "Wow, big ones!" and I thought, "Okay, this is why women love being busty." Of course, when I turned, I saw the men loading two enormous paintings into a truck. I went back to the office, dropped off the Wonderbra, and said goodbye to the sexpot I'd never be.
But one day not long ago, in a rare burst of midlife daring, I bought a lightly padded bra. I put it on and something remarkable happened. I felt uplifted! I felt womanly. When I entered a room, I led with my chest, as if I were the bearer of something precious. People ogled my sweater, even though they'd seen it often before. I became a magnet for hugs.
Would I have been more glamorous all these years if I'd had a working relationship with cleavage? I'll never know. Lately I seem to have two identities, womanly and gender neutral, and I find that I'm comfortable with both. Bra or no bra, wonders never cease.