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There’s a sorority between certain women that spreads through whispers, its bible a series of recommendations passed in private from one to another. It’s a community built not on mutual interest, but mutual suffering.
My induction came in the fall of my 8th-grade year. I was deeply committed to athleticism. I played softball, and volleyball, and ran track, and did field events. I was in the public school version of AP Athletics, and that first day of school, our warm-up was a two-mile jog around the buckled asphalt track. I ran next to my friend Mac, and we chatted for the first lap or so before our words fell silent. The only thing hotter than the August Texas sun — and boy, was it hot — were the eyes of the boys setting up football practice in the center field.
Later, Mac showed me how to layer a sports bra —to wear two at the same time — not for comfort or ease, but to hide. The summer before, I had grown out for the first time in my life instead of up. The two sports bras trick did not work. They were fine inside the gym while we ran drills, but if I had to jump or run outside, the bras couldn’t keep me still. Later, I would try nicer bras from Target, but they weren’t much better.
Sports bras weren’t the only reason I stopped playing team sports, but they certainly were a factor. Sports had become uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally. Through high school and college, I exercised irregularly, going to Zumba classes or yoga studios or walking the treadmill. Anything that didn’t involve too much jumping, too much impact.
I envied the girls who ran with their breasts strapped down by a small piece of spandex fabric. I didn’t really envy their run, but I envied their freedom.
Five years ago, I went to a lingerie store in Dallas to get “sized.” My mother was convinced that the bras I was wearing from Victoria’s Secret were part of the reason my boobs felt bigger to me than they actually were. She was right, but my fitting didn’t help me much. With a tiny band size and a big cup size, there still weren’t a lot of bras that fit me. I left the store that day with a single T-shirt bra, and it was one of the best purchases I ever made.
The Panache Women’s Underwire Sports Bra must be handcrafted by some kind of big-busted goddess. It’s a divine gift made with a bunch of synthetic fibers (polyamide, polyester, and elastane) and built to hold up your girls no matter how much they want to bounce. Its band sizes run from 28 to 40 and its cups from B to J (with a few sizes missing), and it fits snugly. The bra doesn’t move in high-impact sports, and — very magically — it doesn’t even leave the terrible red marks of a bra too tight. Amazingly, you can even do jumping jacks and burpees without worrying that one of your boobs is going to smack you in the face.
The bra keeps your breasts in their own separate cups, which prevents boob sweat from dripping down the center of your chest, and locks down your cleavage so that even in a push-up or plank position, the top of the bra lays flat across your ribcage instead of gaping open like a V-neck T-shirt
I bought my first Panache sports bra five years ago. And though the $70 price tag is nothing to leap for joy over, it held up so well that just a few weeks ago, I bought another one. I expected the five-year-newer version to be perkier, to show me how lax my old bra had become. But they looked exactly the same.
For too long, the sorority of big-busted women has hid its tricks and products inside small groups of knowing women. We know how it feels to be in a band size too small, a cup size that doesn’t hold us. We know how it feels to have a stranger’s eyes linger too long on you while jogging or on an elliptical. I am here. I am whispering: Buy this bra. You deserve it.