Throwing Out My Bra


It was time. Past time. I stood with one hand poised over the trash can holding my bra. The elastic on the straps was shot, the material puckered around the back where it meets the hooks and eyes. There is no longer any support offered, but yet the cups now seem woefully big for me – or is it that with the advancement of time, my boobs have shrunk yet again.


Standing over the trash with the bra, I hesitate. My conviction wavers. What if I just keep the bra as a back up, some emergency moment when all the other bras fail me or are in the wash? The truth is this — this bra has been good to me.


This bra has supported me through the last three years. It has taken me through parent teacher conferences, been there for medical pronouncements, supported me when the doctor called to tell me the lump was benign. It has exercised with me, walked and hiked. It had held me together while my husband recovered from injury and I tried to buck up my children’s fears. It has grocery shopped and gone on girls’ weekends. It’s been to concerts and gotten sweaty in raspberry fields and while doing yard work. This bra has seen me at my very best and most joyous and put up with me through the headaches, the petty and snippy moments, the nagging.


I’d bought the bra in a group of three—one black and two nude, skin color they called it, although I have yet to meet someone with that truly pinkish color of flesh. But one of the fleshy ones was defective, one strap kept coming unhooked, and so it found its way to the back of my drawer. This one, the one I held now, had become, by default, my go-to bra. How many hundred times had I washed it by hand with Woolite?



But the support was gone. And now, with the passage of time, there seemed to be a chasm between the lip of the bra cup and the flesh of my breast. Its like the space between two glaciers. There is no longer any contact. You could lay an entire banana between the gap between my breasts and my bra now. Sigh.



I hate bra shopping. Hate it. Perhaps if I had perfect, perky boobs or a boob job where they sat like mounds of dewy perfection I’d enjoy this exercise. But bra shopping to me is an exercise in facing my flaws in a fluorescent mirror. It’s a little bit like whipping a cat-o-nine-tails over your back.


So as I held the bra over the trash, a sort of simple bra-prayer played over my mind; the kind of thing one mentally mumbles when a hamster or gold fish dies. You have a flash of remorse for the thing that was, even though it didn’t live on the grand emotional scale afforded a cat, dog or human being.


Here was the thing. I had already replaced that bra. I’d gone to Victoria’s Secret with my teenaged daughter, determined to walk out of there with something appropriate and well fitting. We’d chosen three again, one black and two that pinkishy nude of a band-aid, nothing racy, lacey or with demi-cups. Once again I’d ended up with something sensibly supportive.


With one last look and a sigh, I dropped the bra unceremoniously into the garbage trash. Covered with coffee grounds and rotten broccoli and the leavings of the previous meal, it seemed an inglorious end to something that had been so intimate.


I imagine it now, in some kind of land-fill heaven. I envision sea gulls dive bombing the area for food scraps as the bra stands, cups outstretched to the sky, silently holding together its little patch of hill.





  1. Val

    November 3, 2009 at 2:12 am

    ..taking a moment of silence, in honor of the passing of your support system… 😉
    encouraged to take the leap of faith myself!

  2. Stan Kaczmarek

    November 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    As a man commenting on this post, I feel like I need to tread lightly. But as an environmental engineer, maybe I can add something.

    “Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” – This Ash Wednesday blessing from the Catholic tradition in which I was raised reminds us that nothing is permanent, not ourselves, not our undergarments.

    “The greatest threat to happiness is attachment.” – This warning from the Dalai Lama guides us to accept change as the only path to a happy life.

    Lee, I hope that you will feel better knowing that the coffee grinds and the bacteria-laden brocolli that last were seen covering your favorite bra, helped kick-start the process of its renewal. And as it has by now already been buried with other organic materials under a layer of moist soil probably somewhere in Pennsylvania, you can rest easy knowing that the molecules in its cotton fabric are being converted into a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, all of which will be released slowly and travel around the globe until it to eventually becomes available for new plant growth. A lot will become algae which will eventually make its way into your favorite seafood. Some will become next year’s maple leafs and the following year’s maple syryp. Some may be incorporated into brocolli if it ever gets around to California. But some may be taken up this Spring in Asia and in our south as new cotton. Though they will be dispersed, I am sure those molecules were happiest during the time they spent making you happy… and now it is some other molecules turn to do the same.

    One final note… your post made me think about my wife, who also has her favorite “comfy” wear. I think she is beautiful no matter what she puts on… extremely beautiful I should add, even as she changes, and I pray that she will always care about me as I change. But I was always perplexed when she apologized for putting on the few comfortable bras that she owns, as if they are less worthy than the Victoria Secret push-ups and other more revealing garments that our daughters seem to like. But you made me realize this… that to a woman, a bra is something that you think you need to wear for someone else, and when you find and wear a comfortable one, you feel guilty that you are wearing it for yourself. Well, here’s some news for you. I adore my wife no matter what she is wearing, and find her sexiest when she is happy with herself. I would bet that is the case in your marriage too. So dare to be comfortable. It’s really okay.

  3. Rebecca Weber

    November 7, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    This is HILARIOUS and I LOVE the 2 above comments!!! I recently brought new bras and have yet to bring myself to throw the old ones out… Put them back in the drawer for “whatever”! Perhaps I should discard of them to add to my happiness!!!

  4. cathleen daly

    November 13, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    With your artful encouragement, I’m headed to the back of my own over filled underwear drawer to pull all of those once loved, no longer cherished intimate items. Thank you, Cathleen

  5. Rebecca Weber

    November 19, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    After reading this along w/Stan’s comments, I’m happy to report that I bravely put those old bras out w/the trash just this morning! What freedom!!

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