Before I left the UK, I stocked up on bras. “Don’t bra shop in Asia!” the internet warned. “Nothing will fit you, ever, and it will all look weird” the bloggers cried, the warnings especially dire for ladies who are at all medium-large sized in that area (I am-ish). Unfortunately, I have an ever changing bra size and I never seem to stay the same size for more than six months. Any change of scenery, my size changes too… low and behold, I came here and boom overnight none of my bras fitted.
Most of the shops around where I live (central downtown Taipei, the expensive bit with the fancy Western shops like Armani and Versace) are either really expensive, or holes in the wall with a shutter instead of an actual shop front. These are still expensive but a fraction of the price of the real shops. I walk past a Pierre Cardin underwear shop almost every day, but have always been intimidated off going in by the fact that it’s baring its contents and its customers to the busy main street.
Tonight, though, I was with a Taiwanese friend. I wouldn’t have to mime and thrust my bosoms in order to get a bra. I was going for it.
She (the shop owner, not my friend) whipped out a tape measure and stood impatiently as I took off my backpack and unbuttoned my coat, then she measured the ribs, the bust, and made a loud ‘huoh!’ sound. She grabbed a bra and beckoned me into the changing room. I’m used to a discreet service, where there’s a door, and a lot of ‘are you ready?’s as the shop assistants enter the room with averted eyes until they know whether I’m fully clad. What I’m not used to is a middle aged Taiwanese woman positioning herself firmly behind me and thrusting her hand deep into the cup, grabbing my boob with one hand, the bra with the other, clenching and pulling up. Then repeating on the other side. Then jiggling me a little. Suddenly all my boob appeared on my sternum right in my face. It appeared to be a lot more than I’d had twenty seconds ago.
But, of course, why just try one style. She disappeared out to get a handful more, then entered back in at a moment when I was changing, followed by my poor friend who looked a little embarrassed when she realised everything was on display. The woman continued unabashed. She thrust a bra at me, repeated the grab and lift, admired her handiwork, stripped it off me, thrust out a new one, grab and lift… this continued with a stream of Chinese accompanying it on how to grab and lift and the word ‘push!’ thrown in several times for good measure.
But they do fit. And they are quite nice. And they weren’t extortionately expensive. And frankly it’s the most action I’ve had all month.
So girls, if you’re moving to Asia, don’t be afraid to bra shop. You will be able to find your size, and you will get helped in doing so. Just drink a dram of whiskey first.