Pear-shaped blue and green balloons are filled to capacity and bob throughout the ShareWear Consignment Store in Ravenswood, inviting people inside to the event announced by a sign in the window: “Bra Fitting Party! Join Us.” Hourglass-shaped women step in and out of the dressing room, half naked. Some timidly pull the multi-colored curtain aside and step out, while others smooth their chest with their hands and admire themselves in the mirror.
Tracey Robertson, the shop’s owner, likens the bra-fitting party to the age-old Tupperware parties, when a consultant comes to your home to sell durable plastic products. Doubtful that words like “nipples,” “jiggle,” and “booty” find their way into kitchens piled high with “Rock N Serve” and “Chef Series” plastic ware, but the drinking helps. “I think the champagne takes some of the edge off here,” Robertson says.
After the champagne is poured, conversation goes from the weather to nipples, and it happens all at once. “One of my favorite features of this bra is that nobody can ever tell it’s cold outside,” says the bra “expert” and Essential Bodywear salesperson, Susan Howard. She pats her chest and raises her eyebrows to emphasize what she is insinuating about the current state of her nipples.
Howard eventually manages to persuade a heavier-set woman who has come with a gaggle of women, sisters and daughters, to place two happy face stickers on her t-shirt where her nipples are. After a few minutes a cackle comes from behind the curtain of the dressing room and the woman emerges; the stickers on her belly. Here are her breasts as they would be in a world without bra-fitting parties. (Laura Castellano)