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I'm a Bengali woman with big breasts, don't bother me

Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
Sreemoyee Piu KunduDec 20, 2016 | 09:22

I'm a Bengali woman with big breasts, don't bother me

For those who know me and have met me in person, I am a quintessentially Bong woman with big eyes, big paunch (lovingly labelled as bhuri) and ample breasts, and so wanting to indulge myself in something fancy a day before my birthday, I decided to pamper my assets by walking into the Zivame store at DLF Saket recently, not being much of an online lingerie shopper.

The store always appeared so alluring with sensuous shapes and colours, lace and lavender, saucy reds and corsets...

Discrimination

But having walked in and asked to disrobe to take my "accurate measurements", I felt a strange, slanted discrimination towards women who aren’t quite small, and just a complete lack of informed choices and designs, meant for women with big breasts, and that, I would think make up half the country!

And while I was clear that I am looking for underwire, and not padded (as I don’t obviously need more padding, for God’s sake!), I was literally forced to understand why padded is a staple and how at my age, I just turned 39, I need breast support, though honestly, my breasts aren’t sagging or misshapen, according to my own humble estimation, they are just plump — and when I just refused to try any more of size 40, I caught the salesgirl, who lacked communication and convincing skills, mutter that how I simply cannot afford to be so choosy, especially since I also want a "big size".

Saying the word "big", as if it were a veritable death sentence.

A judgement on my body — the way it appeared to others. I think of all my "big" friends and think of myself, a fat girl growing up, and how easily persecuted a woman is because of her size in this country where our goddesses are big and bouncy, but top actresses and models starve themselves to death, how Indian men love well-endowed wives, but gape at porn and fantasise about malnourished bodies, and how a woman’s appearance is sometimes the sum of her breasts.

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"We don’t have much colour options in your size... big size only off white and cream," the salesgirl added grimly.

If she flashes too much, she’s a slut. If she’s flat-chested, she’s ugly.

I remember once talking to a woman and complimenting her breasts, and how she looked embarrassed, confessing to me that her husband made fun of her after she had delivered children and breastfed them, and how she was shy about trying out fancy lingerie, scared of the way the salesgirls, called her "busty Silk Smitha".

I think of another friend who wasn’t getting a marriage proposal because she was reed thin, and how she always lied about her chest size and wore bras twice her measurements, just to appear "normal and feminine".

Options

"We don’t have much colour options in your size... big size only off white and cream," the salesgirl added grimly, looking flummoxed, as I undressed in front of her, telling her to hand me the measuring tape, to stop bringing me bras that weren’t my size.

As a woman, I think we are innately so ashamed of our own bodies that nakedness is always seen as something dirty and diseased. The way she looked at the ground, tongue-tied. As if she had never seen another pair of breasts. As if it were sacrilege.

While walking out, the marketing manager who had been all too sweet earlier, kept wanting me to show me their website, trying to convince me that there were more options I would find there. "Most women order online," she smiled fakely. I didn’t smile back.

Because while I am completely cognisant of the sheer convenience of online retail, and the whopping discounts, there is also something to be observed in the pattern so many women exhibit by preferring to buy intimate wear and also sex toys, lubricants and intimate foaming gels, off a faceless computer screen, because it is there, in a virtual, non-judgmental space that we feel most protected.

Where our flabby tummies, ugly stretch marks, dark underarms, misshapen buttocks and thunder thighs aren’t the centre of a sabotage, a simmering criticism by our own sex or a dismissive, derogatory comment.

Conditioning

I wonder despite all the famous, foreign brands flooding Indian malls and markets, how the whole beauty and fashion industry is made to balance itself on the paper-thin idea of being thin. And how we are in denial of a larger woman, not fat, by convention, maybe, but not skinny either.

How we celebrate curves on a magazine cover, but how it barely applies to a bra or a panty, the difficulty of finding one, and the clumsy process most of us go through in real life, where we are stuck to one brand or one colour or shape.

How sexy is so skin-deep. How downright dumb most saleswomen at lingerie shops are, when you ask them the deeper questions or challenge their ideas of what you like or should wear.

As I drove home, I touched my breasts; I wondered why I had to wear a bra in the first place. And how so much of what I had worn over the years was always someone else’s version. I wondered why we are always asked to cover our cleavage?

If it’s a cover up for a century-old conditioning of what a woman must do with her body, and how sin and shame are synonymous. I am 38C. And, you?

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

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Last updated: December 20, 2016 | 09:22
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