The only item of clothing designed specifically to accentuate back fat is the brassiere and for a woman at the peak of her post-baby body blues, buying one is never going to be easy.
Alas, only two weeks after the birth of my child, I was in dire need of the kind of support my wardrobe simply could not provide. I had managed to scrounge a number of what I thought were well-fitting maternity bras from those bags of maternity clothes that make the rounds from friend to friend and I thought I was set. But nobody warned me that it was perfectly feasible that a 14C could become a 16E overnight, so a trip to the bra-section was unavoidable.
It was my first day out since baby’s arrival. I knew the purpose of the outing had the potential to be emotionally scarring, so I gave myself every chance of feeling good – I shaved my legs and my under-arms, I brushed my hair, put on some nice earrings and even applied some eye-makeup! But the tremmors in my stomach started as soon as I stepped into the maternity aisle. This was not going to be fun. I scratched the back fat that bulged below my bra strap, a nervous habit I seemed to have picked up somewhere along the pregnancy line.
Bone and grandmotherly, white and grandmotherly, black and grandmotherly. Not exactly spoiled for choice! I carefully selected one of each in varing monster-sizes and sucked in a deep breath. My husband, baby strapped to his proud chest, gave me a thumbs up with a “I don’t know what you’re so worried about” look. The department store changeroom is the only place on earth where it is impossible to hide, but I went in, prepared to see every roll, every wrinkle, every damned blemish in microscopic, neon-lit detail.
I hung my selection on the hook labelled “maybe” and threw my top on the floor, trying to avoid my reflection and choosing, rather, to focus on the shiny new bindings before me. I decided to go from largest to smallest, thereby maximising my chances of having to go down a size. We all know how upsetting it is to have to go out and get the next size up – not only are you not as skinny as the waif-manneqins and the pre-pubescent teen that works there, but you also realise that you have deluded yourself into thinking you are smaller than you really are. No, my fragile confidence could not take such a battering. I would try on the grossly oversized “slimming black” bra first.
I prepped it, loosening the bungie-cord shoulder straps. I unclipped the six hooks at the back and wondered how many more would make it a corset. I reached back and unclipped the two that had a tenuous hold on my daggy old number and let it drop to the floor.
“Shit!” My breast pads dropped to the floor with it. “My last ones,” I thought and wondered how dirty the floor really was, whether I could get away with reusing them… But before I could stoop to pick them up I was possessed by a burning.
“Oh, God, no. Not now. Fucking boobs!”
Let down. Super-soaker style. 5 jets from each nipple on maximum thrust sprayed the change cubicle mirror as my horrified expression disappeared behind a veil of milky droplets.
I scrambled for my bra all the while spraying the bench, the floor, my jeans… I clasped one arm over my chest and the milk continued to pour in small rivulets down my stomach as I frantically tried to contain the offending parts in my old hand-me-down. I pressed those pads without a thought to hygene. I needed to stem the flow! I needed to put those self-starters back in their packaging! I needed to get out of the spotlights staring down on my humiliation!
When I emerged, flustered, with bra selection in hand, my husband looked surprised.
“That was quick! Success?” he asked with a bright glow.
“Um, no,” I said, glaring at the pretty teens who were oooo-ing and aaahhh-ing at the baby strapped to my husband’s chest. He was loving the attention. I could just hear him thinking, “this is better than a puppy!”
I scratched the roll of back fat that, squeezed by my bra-strap, now rested on my muffin-top.
“No, no success today.”