Jaci Stephen: 'In my bra, I looked like two ladles melting in a pot of boiling fondue'

Way Out West
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The Independent Online

I've always wondered exactly what Victoria's Secret was. Now I know. She has never worn any underwear.

Having just visited the LA store of the same name, it is the only conclusion I can reach. Had I been a hippo in the bra section, or a stoat in the knickers section, there is a chance the garments might have looked halfway decent on me; but as a relatively normal-shaped woman, I could not have looked more ridiculous had I strapped myself upside down to a giraffe on roller skates.

I confess to not having worn a bra for over 20 years, and no knickers for three. It's not that I've been trying to make a statement; just that owing to my broad back, bras always felt uncomfortable and left me with scars; and knickers: well, did they get smaller, or did I just get bigger?

I suspect that my aversion to bras is because my first one was so small – a couple of contact lenses would have done the job just as well. It was a 28AA white lace doily thing that Mum bought from Marks & Spencer, and I was utterly embarrassed. My friend Pat had been the first girl in the school to need a bra, and we had all gathered round at break to admire the aircraft hangar it undoubtedly was, so I knew that I was painfully inadequate in that department. I felt rather sorry for Pat's mother, who must have spent an entire week's grocery bill on the monstrosity needed to house her daughter's growing mammaries.

I stopped wearing them round about the age of 30, but as I have been contemplating having a boob job in California (you feel on the sidelines without one, to be honest), I thought I might try something less drastic first. Surrounded by Beverly Hills 90210 nymphets, I fantasised about slipping into the sexiest cups that would instantly transform my 50-year-old chest into that of a buxom, desirable 23-year-old, and set off for the Victoria's Secret Labor Day sale with high hopes.

The last bra I bought cost about £2.99, so a $19.99 reduced price tag didn't seem much of a bargain; heck, a boob job suddenly looked like the cheapest option.

I didn't even know what size I was now, but thought 34B looked about right. I rummaged around in that section and came up with a corset-type thing and a camel-type thing. I have to call them things, because they bore no resemblance to any bra I have ever seen. When I tried them on, I had to perform manual surgery just to cover myself; even then, I looked like two ladles melting in a pan of boiling fondue.

The assistant measured me and declared me to be a 34C: not, it transpired, because I had grown in cup size, but because owing to my 30lb weight loss, half my cup had transmogrified and was now well on its way to my back, via my underarms. Only the promise of a dam in which to contain it again seemed likely to convince it to return, and so off the assistant went in search of 36C.

The not-very-nice bras on offer at 34B were a veritable Impressionist exhibition up against the Salvador Dalis at 36C. God, they were gross. Gross colours, gross fabrics, gross shapes. Had they been breathing, you would have taken them to the vet to be put out of their misery. I had been contemplating a D cup, if and when I decided to go under the knife; but as I gathered up my under-the-arm flesh and scooped it into the C cup, I thought that if I could just push a bit up from my now rather-loose stomach, I would have enough not only for one boob job, but top-ups that would keep it going for about the next 10 years.

I didn't even bother looking at the knicker sale, which looked to me like a dental floss convention.

I'm rather depressed about it all. When I was fatter, I had a great, smooth bottom; now, it has so many folds and creases, I could re-market it as a book. My once-quite-decent breasts are now barely bigger than my ears, and not anywhere near as pert. The reason I stopped wearing underwear in the first place was because, fat, nothing fitted me; now I'm thin, and it still doesn't.

If Victoria has a secret, I'd like to know about it. Because from where I'm sagging, there's no mystery.

To read Jaci Stephen's blog LAnotsoconfidential in full, go to: lanotsoconfidential.blogspot.com