After I posted about the difficulties we were facing as a business, the rallying cry of support from people whose lives were made better by the shop touched me on such a deep, emotional level that I can only describe it as love. Yes, I truly love all of you who so willingly gave your support, who shared the post, who encouraged others to visit us, who sent me personal words of encouragement and solidarity. You made my life better through your actions, and I have spent the better part of the week crying and smiling while reading everyone’s messages. My takeaway was that I not only made the right decision in fighting to keep the shop afloat, but also that I am very fortunate to be part of such a loving, caring community.
Today, I am checking my usual humor at the door and ripping down the curtains obscuring the view into the true state of our business: Last month, I planned to shut our doors permanently by the end of December. Usually when I contemplate closing, it’s in the midst of an emotional meltdown, all sobs or screams and half-serious intentions. The toll of small business ownership and a never-ending string of bad luck in the last four years more than once made want to quit and work a corporate job where life may not be better but at least it’d be easier. As the tears dried and my mood stabilized, I’d rush remorsefully back to the shop as if it were a sentient being whose feelings I injured with my idle threats.
Coming on the heels of John’s emotional post about his gynecomastia journey, our final guest post is from none other than Shay Hansen himself who posted previously about his terrifying experience with the TSA. One of the things Shay and I have discussed privately before is how many instances of everyday life men with gynecomastia experience differently, especially those who wear bras for support. No amount of personal acceptance or encouragement from family and friends changes how, at some point, these men will have to reveal they wear bras to a stranger. As much as I believe in the innate goodness of people, there will always be those who cannot or will not understand why a man would choose to wear what is typically defined as a woman’s garment. To make yourself vulnerable to the opinions of a stranger can be frightening and takes a tremendous amount of courage. As a result, today Shay wanted to share memorable situations from his past where he was confronted with others unexpectedly finding out about his condition or his need and desire to wear bras. On a personal note, I think stories like this remind us to be kinder to our fellow humans and to judge less. This world is hard enough for all of us without letting prejudice and ignorance influence how we interact with others. Just be kind.
TweetHello Everyone! Today marks the first of three guest posts this week, all by men. I guess you could sing “It’s blogging men!” Yes, I am a sucker for bad jokes. Anyway, today’s post is from a client suffering from
Hi Everyone! Today I am pleased to present a guest post from my business partner/aunt Debbie. After my dad’s scare this year, cancer has been ever present in our minds, and my aunt is no stranger to this terrible disease. As a child, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent significant treatment including surgeries and radiation to survive. My grandmother often told my brother and me stories about the tribulations the family endured and encouraged us to show kindness and compassion toward others regardless of their circumstances. In the 70s, a cancer diagnosis did not always receive the same rallying support cry it does today. My grandparents nearly lost their home paying for medical bills–an ongoing problem which has yet to change, and with no Go Fund Me or social support system, it meant sacrifices and long hours working multiple jobs all while carrying for an ill child. In some working class, religious areas like where my grandparents called home, neighbors and friends justified their often cruel behavior behind the guise of religious piety, claiming cancer was a misfortune brought on by the family’s failure to to be Christian enough or to show their praise to God. Rather than offer any help, they shied away from my family and considered them social pariahs deserving of whatever happened. Even the less religious were content to delight in the suffering of my grandparents and aunt, often pulling unspeakably awful pranks or spreading rumors that Debbie was mentally deranged or contagious. My aunt watched as all her play friends were quickly ushered behind closed doors, leaving her alone in a time when she was most vulnerable. Now, we send money, love, and prayers, even to strangers, but then, a person’s closest friends would abandon them. And so for today’s post, Debbie wanted to talk about her upbringing as well as her own cancer experience and how it changed her.
[CW: Racism, Homophobia, Language, #MAGA]
One of my commitments with the store is to help all people find the intimate apparel which suits their needs, preferences, and budgets, including men. Men wear bras for any number of personal and medical reasons, and I have been a strong advocate in not only helping men traverse their own unique fit problems but also in encouraging broader societal acceptance. Through these efforts, I came to meet Shay who has a medical condition known as gynecomastia which causes the benign growth of breasts in biological males. In some cases, the most comfortable way to live with the condition is to wear a bra for support, but while that may be the simplest solution, it’s hardly the easiest one. Our culture is exceptionally hung up on gender norms and body policing. Boys should dress like boys, and girls should dress like girls, right? It not only assigns certain clothing and even behaviors to one gender as being “acceptable,” but it also leaves no room for anyone to depart from those norms, to say nothing of the implications on trans people as well as those who are non-binary or genderqueer. And unfortunately, people can be exceptionally cruel and malicious when presented with someone who behaves outside of the way they expect. Shay and I have discussed this many times via email, and I told him I would really love for him to guest post occasionally on the blog, particularly because he brings a completely different perspective to the table. After some poor timing on both our parts, we finally came together for his introductory post focusing on a terrifying experience where being outside cultural gender norms can have embarrassing repercussions: a body search by the TSA.
About two years ago, I received an email from Heidi asking for feedback from a retailer’s perspective on edgy, high quality lingerie and its stateside viability. At the time, she was considering starting her own brand, and we chatted about pricing, materials, and competition between manufacturers and their retailers. A few weeks ago, Heidi contacted me again to announce she took the plunge and hoped to use Kickstarter to launch her brand. Keep in mind, I receive a lot of consulting inquiries from people wanting to start retail stores or lingerie brands, and I seldom hear follow-ups. This was one of the rare instances where not only did I hear from Heidi again but she was actually doing what she set out to do. So today we’re picking up the conversation and discussing her new line Pique Lingerie, the struggles of establishing sizing, and the need for inclusivity. Before we get started, I want to mention we do discuss sexual content, kink, and BDSM in the context of Heidi’s lingerie brand just in case it’s not your thing.
TweetHello Everyone, Every year I field dozens of questions both in person and on the phone about whether we will provide summer salvation to people fed up with generic bathing suits and finally offer bra sized swim in the shop.
My friend Jillian is ready to continue her discussion of designing bras for UK KK+ cups, and I couldn’t be happier to post her latest edition. As I mentioned before, we have seen too many women who are outside of what traditional manufacturers produce and are forced to make due with a poor, sometimes even painful, fitting bras all for the sake of support. Jillian has been crafting her own bras, refining them with each new version, and the results have been exciting to watch. I hope you enjoy this next installment as much as I have, and if you missed her previous posts, you can find them here and here and here.