Roxy Bourdillon takes a deep dive into the world of lez/bi lingerie
BY ROXY BOURDILLON, IMAGE VIA ISTOCK
Ever since my jiggly juggernauts burst into being, the only constant source of support in my life has been my trusty and ever so busty, boulder-holder. I’ve developed a profound love of lingerie. It has transformative powers on my mood and self-esteem. Combine that with my dangerous shopping addiction and my undie drawers are overflowing with titty-hammocks, knocker-lockers and upper-topper-flopper-stoppers made of lace, satin, and industrial strength underwire.
As a femme, fashion is how I express my identity, celebrate my sexuality and spark joy. And my bras are a big part of that. Very big actually. My cups runneth over. 36G for “Ginormous, Gargantuan, Good God, watch out it’s a Giant pair of wobblers!” My bras are a curious mix of pretty and practical. Due to their vast size, I can use them to store more than just my bazoomers. I stuff all sorts down there when I’m on the go: lipstick, keys, a BLT in case I get peckish.
In all seriousness though, glamorous lingerie is my favourite act of self-care. It’s sensual, personal and about as intimate as you can get. My everyday go-to is a vintage longline brassiere – the only style I can get away with all day without inducing chronic backache – and a pair of flattering high-waisted briefs. Once I’m firmly encased, my silhouette smoothed out under my retro ensemble, I feel ready to tackle the day. Matching underwear gives me a false sense of control in an increasingly crazy world.
It doesn’t matter if nobody else is going to see all the upholstery. You see, it’s not really for them. This is my luxury gift to myself, an empowering act of self-seduction. I swear by the words of the patron saint of smalls, Dita von Teese: “Don’t save your good lingerie for dates, wear it for you.” If I want to feel like total fembot, I will up the ante and pull out the big guns for my big cans. I’m talking corsolettes, merry widows, one extraordinary vintage reproduction thingamajig that takes 20 minutes to wriggle into, but makes me feel like the lesbian Bettie Page.
Although my commitment to unmentionables is unshakeable, it’s not without its challenges. While the retro brands I favour are increasingly size inclusive (Playful Promises, What Katie Did and my old faithful for a cheap bit of raunch, Ann Summers), I frequently fall for the bombshell bra of my fashion fantasies, only to discover it isn’t available above a D-cup. And it’s fine now I have a partner who’s thrilled about going out with a low budget Marilyn Monroe wannabe, but I remember feeling self-conscious when I was dating. Would I be, as ever, a little bit too much for the uber cool gay girls I fancied?
As queer women, we often have a complicated relationship with our chests and consequently our bras. The lingerie industry can be a frustratingly heteronormative sector of the fashion world, reinforcing limiting ideas about body size, race and gender. If you’re a butch who doesn’t want frou frou and frills anywhere near your body, how do omnipresent underwear ads make you feel? Aroused? Or erased? It’s no wonder finding underwear that fits our whole selves can be difficult. And while we might feel one way about our partner’s babylons (joyful, awestruck, horny as hell) it can be a totally different story when it comes to our own (self-conscious, ambivalent, even dysphoric).
I decide to chat to a diverse selection of queer folk to find out about their tata-related experiences. Dylan, a cis lesbian, tells me, “When I first started developing, I was like, ‘What the fuck?!’ I did not want them. Even now, I wish they were a lot smaller. They just don’t fit with my butch identity and they make it harder to dress.” Dylan mostly wears minimising sports bras, even when she’s having sex. “I’m always the one in control. I love my partner being naked, but I definitely feel more dominant when I’m covered up.” But on a night out, when she’s in her tailored andro finery, she’ll “sometimes wear a tank-style binder”. “I like the way it changes my body shape. It makes me feel slick.”
Bex is comfortable with the pronoun “she”, but feels “pretty gender neutral”. Her underwear of choice? Boxers and no bra, ever. “The feeling of a bra would remind me I have to wear one. It’s the chest thing I have a problem with.” She confides that she’s seriously considering an elective double mastectomy. “I probably will have them removed at some point. But I wouldn’t want to transition. It’s more of an aesthetic thing.”
When I ask trans lesbian Sophie how she feels about her boobs she reveals, “Before I transitioned, breasts were a major thing for me. I obsessed over lingerie and bust size. But as soon as I began to live FT as a woman, those feelings dissipated. Now I think of them more as aspects of my womanhood, gradually becoming real and apparent along with my identity as a whole. It’s a good feeling.” What about bras? Has Sophie’s relationship with them changed? “Pre-transition, I favoured super-sexy bras. Afterwards? Not so much. One day, I got back from work when I’d been wearing a very pretty, but rather painful padded bra, and the first thing I did was take it off. OMG, the relief. I knew then, I must be a woman after all.”
I reach out to my celesbian pal, chick lit author Kiki Archer, to see if she’s up for a chinwag about titty-slings. She replies with the wit and enthusiasm I adore her for, “Of course I’m willing to talk to you about my boobs!” Kiki explains having children affected how she felt about her lovely jubblies. “I breastfed for two and a half years, so I feel incredibly proud that my breasts came through for me. Many women struggle with feeding, so I felt blessed that my bosom swelled at the chance – quite literally in fact, going from a pert 34B to a mahoosive 38GG. They’ve never quite recovered, currently sagging under my armpits at a hefty, yet strangely empty-sack-like 34FF, but I wouldn’t change them for the world.” Kiki opts for supportive numbers from Bravissimo, a specialist shop for larger chested ladies. “Most are like pillows in the wind, with a bit of lacing around the edges to try and disguise the fact they’re actually composed of more material than a double duvet.”
Every queer woman I speak to has a completely different relationship with her breasts and her bras, proving your underwear preferences are as unique as you are. While the mainstream lingerie industry still has a long way to go before it’s inclusive of us all, thankfully there are wonderful indie brands out there making products for individuals (PTO for our top picks). Whether you’re addicted to lace, a sports bra devotee, besotted with binding or shun undies altogether like the bra-burning feminists of the 1970s, it’s all about doing what feels right for you. Now if you’ll please excuse me, there’s a half-price sale on at Ann Summers and mama needs her fix.
This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!