Miracle bra

“What would you like it to do?”

I am standing in Victoria’s Secret and I am confused by the sales associate’s question. 

“What?” I turn and look at her, dressed in clingy black with her ready-to-go measuring tape slung around her neck. “I don’t understand what you mean.”

Like millions of women, I wander in regularly, usually responding to a coupon reminding me that my seasonal panty colors need to be updated. Recently the company has shifted their marketing strategy, replacing angel figures with manikin sentries posted in the windows clutching icicles or lounging against poles. As if rising from the hay or beckoning from a street corner they tower with impossible waists, languid expressions and teased-from-the-pillow hair. In vain I try to ignore these attempts to seduce me with exotic consumerism. Marching through the doors with a singular purpose, I beeline for the table reading “five pair for twenty dollars.” As always I am taken in by the dazzling pink and neon, distracted like a bird building a nest: Buy Shiny! Buy Pretty! Buy Color! I decide I need a bra as well and ask the location of a particular style.

The sales associate has an intent expression on her face and speaks more distinctly, as if to someone very simple.

“What would you like the bra to do for you?”

I throw back my head in an instant whoop of laughter, transported by the genie fabulous possibilities of this most ridiculous and wonderful question. If a sheath of synthetic fabric held answers to everything: what would I have this mysterious, miraculous bra do for me?

Please Magic Bra—make me the epitome of sexy for every beautiful stranger who walks by and turns their head. Make the charming logo on my shirt stand out in relief, give me a place to hide paper money when I wear a v-neck sweater, make my stomach look flat in the shadows cast from the peaks of my nostalgic June Cleaver dress. Let no one know when I am feeling cold. If I get in a car wreck, allow the hospital staff to admire for a moment before they cut the straps.

I see gauzy image after image of me on the runway of life in so many curvaceous outfits, accented with perfect lipstick colors and high heeled shoes; I could be a new woman from the inside out. This inspires me to dream beyond a merely stunning appearance. 

Please Magic Bra—make me strong and powerful. Endow me with the original meaning of Virgin Goddess, a whole woman unto herself like Athena and Artemis. Repair the years of injury inflicted by stuffy parents, religion and society that have chopped up and dichotomized my sexual identity. Bring everything back together with fresh fullness. Protect me from putting too much emphasis on external definitions so that if you, Magic Bra, ever cover a scar where a breast used to be, I will always feel very much a woman.        

And while you are fulfilling every fantasy for me, Magic Bra—maybe we can share your infinite ability with the world. Please Magic Bra—can I wear you to facilitate peace on earth? Can I learn from you how to lift and support my fellow humans, propping them up to be oh-so-much-more than they could be without the benefit of augmentation? Can we smooth the bulges and tuck everyone in snuggly so people will stop bumping into each other and getting hurt?

I become lost in this universe where my Magic Bra can do anything for anyone.    

My eyes are crinkled closed from giggling and as I wipe them open, I notice the salesperson is not smiling. “Oh come on, you don’t find that question the slightest bit funny?” I ask, a bit incredulously, a bit mischievously. We are friends now, I assume, having shared the potential of the mighty Magic Bra. 

She says, “I’m new here. That’s what they tell me to ask.” 

“Yeah, but don’t you think it’s goofy question? I mean, think about it, what wouldn’t I want a bra to do? And yet, what can a bra really do?”

I practically nudge her with my elbow . . . get it?

“What color would you like?” She is reading from a script in her head. It is hopeless. I sigh, “I’ll take one of those.” She perks up and starts milling around in the drawers, finding a size and presenting it as if we have just met. As she walks up to another customer and haltingly blurts recorded question number four, I have a fleeting concern that she is a robot, a more realistic version of the plastic whores from outer space that adorn the windows. But she smiles at this customer; apparently this one knew immediately if her needs required padding or underwires.

For some reason this makes me happy again. I am glad that my manikin girl has found someone with whom she can communicate. Clearly, in spite of my penchant for underwear with blue and silver snowflakes, I am not someone she has been prepared to help. Dealing with customers who drift into fanciful reveries of auto-entertainment is not part of the company’s training repertoire. 

I leave with my pink striped bag, wondering who at corporate created this question to match their new concept. A question so fitting for a store that transforms the mundane routine of buying foundations into something fantastic and hyper-sexual, where even the dumpiest woman can be a rock star or a porn star or movie star with enough spandex, lace and imagination. A question more suggestive than any lingerie, regrettably stripped of irony by a clerk who thinks only in numbers and letters. I am sure there is someone behind the curtain, however, an organizational cog laughing with me, compiling their own lists of wishes, miracles that only a very special Bra could accomplish.

18 responses to “Miracle bra”

  1. Rachel says:

    “plastic whores from outer space”

    PERFECT!!

  2. WW says:

    yeah, that magic bra? doesn’t come in my size.

  3. Adriana says:

    Oh Pandora, this takes the cake. This is my favorite of your GW posts — and I love them all. You’re a genius. Thank you for making my morning!

  4. bryan says:

    i particularly love the extended prayer to the miracle bra. it so perfectly calls the bluff on how corporate capitalism has so effectively coopted religion and the discourse of the marvelous. what a funny post. i can’t wait for the sequel: when the bra actually speaks and answers your prayers. what would it say?

  5. kevin says:

    It’s not like you were asking the bra to do complex algebra or solve a rubiks cube. Geesh. Great post! I guess you could have said “Keep my ears warm on a blustery March afternoon.” Always good stuff. I wait for every other Friday.

  6. PB says:

    WW — that is the point, it comes in EVERY size . . . and yet one size fits all, that’s what makes it magic.

    Bryan, about what the bra would say, I can’t decide how cynical I am after the emotions of this week–does my magic bra pump me up like my own Stuart Smalley? Do I imagine a snow white queen mirror response–“you are the loveliest of all” with a droll roll of the eye catch in the throat? Or do I hear David Sedaris’ reedy voice say, “listen honey, take it from me, don’t even try.” I am thinking even on the best days, my prayers are on faith alone.

  7. WW says:

    oh, most wonderful P, the problem is, they in fact don’t come in every size, and even though I crave magic more than most, visiting that store, or any bra area at all, is always an inherently frustrating experience — mostly because there’s a lot I want my bra to do for me.

    Your post is great because when we buy clothes, we’re buying the fantasy of where we’ll wear a bra (and the fantasy of who will take it off), or the fantasy about the coat or that the red boots will really, truly help us get that job or that they will make us that rock star that we pray to be.

  8. WW says:

    oh, most wonderful P, the problem is, they in fact don’t come in every size, and even though I crave magic more than most, visiting that store, or any bra area at all, is always an inherently frustrating experience — mostly because there’s a lot I want my bra to do for me.

    Your post is great because when we buy clothes, we’re buying the fantasy the clothes are selling: where we’ll wear a bra (and the fantasy of who will take it off), the fantasy that the coat will make you slimmer, the fantasy that the red boots will really, truly help us get that job or that they will make us that rock star that we pray to be.

  9. WW says:

    oh, most wonderful P, the problem is, they in fact don’t come in every size, and even though I crave magic more than most, visiting that store, or any bra area at all, is always an inherently frustrating experience — mostly because there’s a lot I want my bra to do for me.

    I think that’s part of the reason we womenfolk are so fascinated by shoes and bags is that they are not body-specific, yet provide instant transformation.

    Your post is great because when we buy clothes, we’re buying the fantasy the clothes are selling: where we’ll wear a bra (and the fantasy of who will take it off), the fantasy that the coat will make you slimmer, the fantasy that the red boots will really, truly help us get that job or that they will make us that rock star that we pray to be.

  10. PB says:

    reading “Most wonderful P” 3 times!!–OK my day is made–the hell with the bra.

  11. Stephanie Wells says:

    “What would you like it to do?”

    “Hmmm . . . how about preventing breast cancer? No? Then how about just not ripping apart irreparably within three months, like every other bra I’ve ever bought here? Can’t manage that either, huh? Yeah, didn’t think so. Okay, then how about it just charges me fifty bucks to make me feel like I’m a validated part of American feminine culture? Great; here’s my MasterCard.”

    LOVED this post!!!!!!

  12. Jeremy says:

    I feel so left out of this conversation. How come there aren’t, like, miracle jocks? And salesmen asking, “What would you like your jock to do for you?”

  13. trixie says:

    jeremy, your jock can do a lot for you. but first you have to admit that you’re gay.

  14. WW says:

    steph, your bras… rip? are you that… well… damn, girl. you are fine.

  15. WW says:

    and, J-Zit, there are miracle jocks. K-Fed, 4 1.

  16. MF says:

    P,
    Everyone was talking about this post all weekend long. I didn’t get a chance to read it until now and it made me laugh out loud.

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