Guest Post: Bra Vignettes by Shay Hansen

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.

Erica


 

The Wide Open World and its Encounters with my Bra

 

That One Time in the Parking Lot

The sun had set a couple of hours ago.  The paramedics were carrying me down three flights of stairs on a stretcher.  As they loaded me into a waiting ambulance, they took off my shirt.  My bra, a hot-pink Under Armour Heat Gear pullover in magenta, was exposed in the apartment parking lot for all of my neighbors to see. I did not even realize what was happening until one male paramedic asked, “Why are you wearing a bra”?  I passed out immediately.  I woke up in the hospital the next day, my hot-pink bra sitting next to my bed and on top of all of my other clothes.

Foot Surgery (Round 4)

The fog of my general anesthesia had cleared to the point where I could attempt to stand with assistance from my nurse. The cast on my right leg was clumsy and large.  She helped me step into my boxers, making sure my clumsy self remained in the upright position. Whenever I have surgery, I like to put my bra in my pocket when I get undressed, just in case I end up with a male nurse. I reached into my pants pocket and pulled out my bra.

“It’s mine,” I said.

She nodded without batting an eye as I slipped the straps over my shoulders. She asked if I wanted help, and I nodded. She leaned in and reached around behind me.

“First hooks?” she asked, her tone positive and fresh.

“Yes Please,” I responded.

The nurse clasped my bra on the first set of hooks like it was completely normal. I felt cared for and safe. I quietly thanked her, placed my breasts in the cups, and put my shirt on.

The Speeding Ambulance

Ambulance trips for me used to be somewhat of a regular occurrence – boy am I glad those days are past! In this particular instance, I was in the back and on the way to the hospital. I remember everything bouncing around as it typically does when an ambulance is speeding to the hospital. You would think they would make those things with better shocks! The male paramedic slid his hand down my shirt to place electrodes and found himself inside my bra! He jumped and quickly pulled his hand back. A nervous laugh ensued, and he put his hand back in my bra (it was a racerback pullover sports bra) and placed the electrodes – as quickly as he could!

Victoria’ Secret

It was a Monday evening. I decided to call ahead since the staff did not know me. They said they could help me out and that I could come to the store. I showed up embarrassed and shy.

“How are you, sir?  What can I help you with today?” the manager asked.

“I’m here to uh… find some bras,” I stammered.

“Ok.  What size is she?” the woman replied.

“Um… *gulp* they’re for me,” I said.

At this point, the bra I was wearing was getting soaked with sweat. I wondered if the women would think that I didn’t need a bra. I worried what they would think about me. The “voices” were quite loud in my head.

“Oh, you’re the guy that called! It’s good to meet you. Let me measure you real quick,” the manager said. She put the tape measure around my chest before I knew what was happening.

“Can we do this somewhere private,” I asked.

“Of course.”

We went to a nook that was out of the way, and she measured me.  She informed me that I was a 42B and that they didn’t have my size. The funny thing was that I got measured recently and am a 38B. I told her this, and she said I could pick out bras to try on. She introduced me to a bra fitter named Britney and said to find her once I was ready. I grabbed a mesh bag and began shopping.

I returned about 15 minutes later with a bunch of bras that I thought would work. The manager showed me Body by Victoria, and I grabbed a couple of those to try on. I found my way back to Britney, and she took me to a fitting room. It was very pink – in fact, it was in the Victoria’s Secret PINK section of the store.

I went in, and Britney told me she would find me some other bras that would be good to try. I kept the Body by Victoria bra, but most of the other ones were not flattering or were uncomfortable because of the lace. Britney returned with more bras.

“I found you some other bras. Let me know how you like these,” she said as she slung a bunch of bras over the door to the fitting room.

“Sounds good. Oh, hey this bra is a 38D.  Can you please grab me a B cup?” I asked.  I had to wonder if she didn’t care about my cup size and just grabbed any old bra.

“Oh, sorry!  I’ll get you another,” she replied.

A short time later, she returned and checked the fit of the bras I had planned to purchase thus far. It was a bit awkward having a young lady doing that (she looked like she was barely 18). She handed me a couple of bralettes that her manager thought I might like and left the room.

This scene (minus incorrect sizing) repeated itself a few more times as I went through about 40 different bras, trying to find a few that would be comfortable during my long days. I finished trying on bras and brought my selections to the checkout counter.

“Were the girls polite and helpful?” the manager asked.

“Yes, quite helpful,” I replied.

I couldn’t wait to get out of there with my bras. It had probably been one of the more awkward experiences of my life. I learned that, perhaps, Victoria’s Secret wasn’t the store where I would be getting my bras. The store and its bras scream sex and having women that are barely 18 help you with your bras is just plain awkward.

Target

Victoria’s Secret sells the most bras of anyone (as of now), but I was tired of their bras. The store looks more like an adult store than a bra store. The bras usually make your boobs look more prominent, which is not the look I want. The bras seemed to be more about fashion than fit and function, and many of my purchases from Victoria’s Secret ended up unworn and collecting dust in the closet. I decided to try my luck at my local Target – where I did not have those problems.

I meandered up and down the aisles, looking at the various bras. Most of them were not what I wanted, but there were a few sports bras and one T-Shirt bra that was worth trying on. I took my bras to the fitting room and walked in. After trying them on, I selected 2 and handed the other two back to the woman at the dressing room counter. I began to make my way to the checkout area.

“Sir!  SIR!  SIR!” the woman called in a shrill tone.

I turned back to her, quite startled but trying not to show it. The last thing I needed was to show any vulnerability. I’d heard enough whispering while I was in the fitting room.

“Here.  You forgot these,” the woman said.

She handed me a 6-pack of men’s boxers that I also planned to purchase but had left behind. I took the underwear, made a b-line for the checkout and called it a day.

The Examination Room

I was in the throes of my battle with Anorexia Nervosa. I was physically sick and had been experiencing fluid shifts. I sat in the waiting room at my Primary Care Physician’s office.

“Shay Hansen?” the Medical Assistant called out.

I stood up and began to walk toward her. I felt unsteady on my feet, but I continued to make my way toward the woman. She was not a small woman, and that ended up being a good thing for me. Before I knew what was happening, she caught me and pinned me against the wall using her whole body. A nurse quickly showed up, and the two women carried me into a nearby examination room. They placed me on the table and immediately removed my shirt.

“Oh, my!  It’s OK, Shay. That’s just fine,” the nurse reassured me. She placed her hand on my forearm.

“I don’t like it when my chest moves around, so I wear bras,” I explained.

“That’s just fine.  It’s perfectly OK. I’m going to get the doctor,” the nurse replied.

I laid on the examination table with my shirt off and my bra on. I was too sick to care too much about it.The doctor came in, and she examined me as the nurses helped position me. Eventually, the took my bra off and put me into a gown.

Guest Post: Bra Vignettes by Shay Hansen
Erica
Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.

7 thoughts on “Guest Post: Bra Vignettes by Shay Hansen

  • October 31, 2018 at 11:38 am
    Permalink

    Dude, we REALLY, REALLY need to have a beer sometime!

    Reply
    • January 20, 2019 at 8:58 am
      Permalink

      Haha! Yeah, I keep going “crap, I forgot x story”! There’s so many of them that I just want to laugh with people on some of the lighter ones. Helps to break up the tension in my head. 🙂

      Reply
  • December 14, 2018 at 2:53 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you for telling us some of your stories. I can’t imagine how tough it would be to deal with this. Sometimes people (myself included) can be super awkward because they are trying so hard not to be awkward around a new situation, and it sounds like you ran into that too. :< Also, I totally agree on VS—they do look like an adult store! Not that there is anything wrong with adult stores, but what if I just want to buy a bra without being surrounded by pictures of naked people? I’m so glad Erica is here to save the day with her elegant store, chill attitude, and magical bra fitting skills!

    Reply
    • January 20, 2019 at 9:29 am
      Permalink

      Hi Amber! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I do appreciate it when female readers comment, since one of my biggest fears bra shopping is inadvertently getting in trouble with the women who think I’m there for another purpose! Additionally, I just appreciate the diversity of readership and perspective. 🙂

      On the subject of awkwardness with guys and bras – and this is going back to the 80s – it’s kind of like when ET first meets the boy. They both scream and have a freak out and ET runs away. I think the same can be said for guys that are bra shopping. 🙂

      The good news is that as I build relationships with bra shop owners (Erica is da best!) and people that will typically see my bra (doctors and nurses), life as a guy wearing bras gets much easier. Day-to-day it’s not so bad, but these hair-raising situations do come up from time to time.

      I do appreciate Erica as well. She’s so chill and she helps guys. It’s just underwear. No need to sexualize it. I think it also irks me as the father of daughters. I want to protect them from having sexual expectations placed on them and their bodies until they are grounded and solid enough in who they are as women to protect themselves from that nonsense.

      Reply
      • February 23, 2019 at 9:37 pm
        Permalink

        Shay, thank you for your posts on this blog. I was recently diagnosed with gynecomastia, due to some meds I was on. I’m only about a B cup now but am expected to continue to develop. My wife is trying to wrap her head around this new development and is ok with me wearing sports bras, but not regular bras. You mentioned that you are the father of daughters, so am I. Do your daughters know about your condition and your bras? I’m not sure if I should say anything to them yet and would love to hear your thoughts. Again, thanks for the posts, they are very encouraging!

        Reply
        • March 5, 2019 at 1:12 am
          Permalink

          I’m a 38B, and I wear bras. Give your wife time. My wife doesn’t really care what kinds of bras I wear, but she’s had ~15 years of me wearing bras. Give your wife time, and she’ll probably let you wear whatever type of of bra makes sense for you. Underwire T-Shirt bras tend to be what works best for me. I don’t necessarily seek out bras with lace, but I’m fine if they have lace – so long as they work for my body/breasts. I think people have this complex about guys and lace that we are all of a sudden going to lose our manhood and turn into a woman if we do, say, or wear anything feminine. It’s dumb, but we are conditioned that way to a decent extent IMO.

          I haven’t told my girls, but they’ve both seen me in a bra. They’re very young, so it’s not something I’ve had to answer questions about yet. If they were older, I wouldn’t hide it from them and would encourage questions. They’re just bras. I’m not the only dad that wears them. Honesty and transparency are great lessons for kids IMO and you can demonstrate both my discussing this with your daughters as appropriate.

          Reply
          • May 24, 2019 at 8:51 am
            Permalink

            Having had gynecomastia since puberty, I can relate. I had been about a B cup and pretty much able to camouflage. Except, I have had some awkward situations such as you discuss.

            But the last few years, have had significant breast growth as a side effect from prescription drugs to wear now I wear a DD cup. I now need to wear a bra for pretty much all the reasons a woman does, and there is no longer any hiding that I have breasts and wear a bra.

Leave a Reply to Scott Cancel reply