Body Image

My First Ever Bra-Fitting with Underpinnings – Part 1 of 2


By Samantha Thornhill
Four years ago, Kieran Valley-Gordon took a break from her corporate banking career for the wild unknown. In her case, it was starting Underpinnings, a super-inclusive bra boutique in Port of Spain with cup sizes going all the way up to K.
When we auspiciously met six months into my postpartum, my bra game was pretty sad. I hadn’t gone clothes shopping since the pregnancy; under loose maternity dresses and blouses, my breasts hovered comfortably just above my navel in the hammock my worn out nursing bra had become. No matter what I wore, my voluminous boobs stole every bit of thunder from my Coke bottle waist lurking below.

Having a smallish back with a cup size that’s higher than most vitamins makes it difficult to find adequate and comfortable brassieres, so I’ve spent two decades settling mostly on cheap, undersized and utterly unflattering selections.

Though long overdue, it was a radical act of self-love for me to book an appointment with Underpinnings for my first ever bra-fitting— time and money well-spent. From Kieran, I learned at least three things in the half hour I spent in front of her dressing room mirror raising my arms like a flamenco novice, then leaning, clasping, smoothing, and twirling tentatively before my grinning reflection.

​Firstly, I had been using an improper technique to put on bras.  Secondly, I was way off on my cup size, which I didn’t even know existed. Most importantly, I realized that I was still carrying internalized shame around having unusually large mammaries since my youth. In my late teens especially, I often felt ashamed of my breasts precisely because of the unwanted attention they garnered me, from everyone you can imagine. I thought I had gotten over a lot of that, but some of these unpleasant feelings resurfaced during my pregnancy when people frequently remarked how huge my boobs were going to get once I started lactating. Once again, my breasts were everyone’s business, and come postpartum, I was swimming in my clothes and wearing scarves in summer—a teenager once more.
In the dressing room mirror, one glance at myself in a bra Kieran had expertly plucked from a teeming rack was enough to snap out of it. Having true coverage looked and felt great. I sauntered out of Underpinnings two brassieres richer, a few hundred dollars lighter, and excited to buy clothes for the first time since before the pregnancy. Also, Kieran’s seamstress could convert any of my purchases into a nursing bra for a kind price by the week’s end. It was time to say bon voyage to my convertible beige tit slings.  

Once I started wearing my new bras, family members noticed that I looked remarkably slimmer (now that my breasts were being held up and away from my stomach). Finally, my flat tummy and curvy waistline were getting the shine they deserved, and I have since bought some waist-hugging new threads that entice me to leave home more often. Furthermore, my new bras have transformed the way I walk into crowded rooms and onto stages.

The domino-effect importance of buying the right bra for my size has been undeniable, and I am forever thankful to Kieran for ditching her corporate banking career to follow the trail of breadcrumbs to her dreams. I’m convinced that many women like me are better off because of her decision to do so.  
Note from Underpinnings: If you’ve had a fitting with us we’d love to hear how the experience affected you. Please share by sending us an email or leaving us a review.
Samantha Thornhill is a published poet, educator, producer and author of three children’s books. A performer on stages across the United States and internationally, she holds an MFA from the University of Virginia.
Watch “Ode to Twins”, a spoken word piece by Samantha, dedicated to none other than her breasts.

Underpinnings Bra Makeover

Late last year Underpinnings held its first “Love Your Body | Love Your Bra” makeover competition. Contestants were asked to share why they loved their bodies as well as why they thought they needed a bra makeover.  Five lucky women won a complimentary bra fitting and a $50 Gift Voucher.  One complete bra makeover was awarded to Ayanna.  Here is her experience.