As women, we reach a point growing up when we must enter the intimates section of the department store to begin shopping for bras. Finding a comfortable bra is an exercise of trial and error for every woman, and especially for those of us living with a chronic illness or disability. Our list of needs is different than those of the average woman. In this column, I will share my struggles to find a comfortable bra as a wheelchair user and someone who lives with a chronic illness.
Here’s where my journey began: My mom assisted me in choosing my first bra when I was 9 years old. She made a trip to Target and selected several styles for me from which to choose. Trying on clothes at a store depletes my energy, so she brought the bras home for me to try on at my leisure. We have developed a system of buying, trying on, and exchanging to prevent a relapse.
My first bra was a training bra; it was a pull-on style and didn’t have padding. A training bra does not provide support, instead, it helps a young woman to get used to wearing a garment underneath her clothes. I recommend that every young girl start with a training bra to help with the transition to wearing a full one.
As I matured, I was introduced to underwire bras. My mom had positive experiences with them, so she thought they would be comfortable for me. But that wasn’t the case. For the first time, I knew what it was like to feel uncomfortable in a bra. The cups didn’t conform to my chest and the straps kept slipping off my shoulders no matter how much I tightened them. At the time, my disease hadn’t progressed far, so I didn’t have to worry about the clasps coming undone while resting in bed. Though, that soon became an issue.