Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Breast Exam or Fashion Advice?

It has been two months since I saw the breast doctor about my fibrocystic breasts. At the time I thought about a whole post dedicated to the visit. To the many, many minutes spent alone in the cool examining room wearing only the hospital-issue gown. To the intern who took my history, examined me, reassured me and who returned after those many minutes with THE doctor, who said things that were unnecessary if he’d read my chart (“don’t smoke, limit your alcohol, limit your red meat consumption…”). To my attempts to cover my breasts with a size XL gown whose arm holes hung open to my hips and whose neck closure, even when tied shut, made a sloppy “V” down to my navel, while the doctor and I had a conversation about my red meat consumption. To the dynamic of being a woman, nearly naked, having her breasts rubbed by two professionally dressed men who didn't let her dress before getting lecturing her.

All of this was par for the course, somehow, sadly, and not shocking enough to merit a post (though I did comment on all of it in detail on the Patient Satisfaction Survey they asked me to complete).

But one piece comes back to me again and again. And I need to purge it here.

Among the doctor’s seemingly useful suggestions for preventing the pain – including taking additional Gamma-Linolenic Acid from sources such as Borage, Black Currant or Evening Primrose Oil – was wearing a supportive bra. But not just ANY supportive bra. “Go to Victoria’s Secret,” he said, “and get yourself some good, supportive bras.”

Like these?



I can give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was just trying to be helpful. What woman today hasn’t heard of Victoria’s Secret?

On the other hand, when a man has just looked at and palpated your breasts, and you are a slim but saggy-breasted woman to start with, the suggestion that you take yourself to Victoria’s Secret sounds either like a criticism (“Honey, you’ve got to make the most of what you’ve got”) or an overture (“Slide those B-cups into a black lace push-up bra, and maybe a matching thong, and you are in business, Sweet Thing!).

I prefer Jockeys. See?



They’re the kind of bra you get your ironing done in (and with a washboard stomach to boot). You smile happily in them. You don’t suck your red-shellacked finger while tousling your hair and lunging to one side.

Last night I cleaned out a corner of the basement and uncovered my one “pretty” bra, which I traded in for nursing bras and then my Jockeys three years ago. Remembering the kind doctor’s advice, I put it on this morning. I can’t get over the little party hats that are poking through my shirt above where gentle mounds usually rise.

Support or not, I can’t get over the feeling I’m not wearing this for my fibrocystic breasts. I’m wearing it for the doctor, and my husband, and the straight men in my office – even those who don’t care about cup size – whose idea of proper, or at least appealing, breast shape comes from mainstream media. From Victoria’s Secret. Which, incidentally, is where the bra that I’m wearing today was purchased.

4 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

Not shocking? No, but it seems like it should be, doesn't it? Crap, the way things are set up.

I was thinking, too, how much I would have liked reading you say, "Hey, being as that you don't need anything more to do with my naked body, and as YOU are fully dressed, do you mind if I get my clothes back on before we discuss this?"

But I wouldn't have either.

I wonder if it ever makes them uncomfortable? Or if they like it? Or if they are just so incredibly desensitized or stupid that they don't even notice?

About his cute comment, maybe he thought he was being encouraging, like, "It's really not that bad, having to wear a bra for support, you can have fun and get yourself a pretty one." Or maybe he thinks that's just where women go to buy their underwear, and doesn't realize that Victoria's Secret bras are utterly impractical and uncomfortable, and once one figures that out, are only bought in the hope that it will help one to be more sexually acceptable to a man.

Blah.

1:27 PM  
Blogger T$ said...

Doulicia,

Did the doctor actually suggest Victoria's Secret by name? Maybe he is getting a secret cut from the company for discounts or something? Ya know..."just tell 'em Dr. So-and-so sent you..." Maybe THAT is Victoria's Secret. Product placement via the medical community. You just can't escape those marketing bastards! Ha ha.

10:52 AM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Not only did he mention it by name, he have me a 20% off coupon ("Preferred customer of the UM Cancer Center"). Just kidding. I like your hypothesis. Next thing you know they'll have the catalogs in the examining room in addition to the posters of a brest in cross-section.

3:23 PM  
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