Bra-vo, BHS? Not quite!

It pains. It really does. Because I am going to write this anyway, thereby giving a plug to an organisation that hasn’t really earned it and giving them a leg-up to an audience they probably should be talking to, even if they haven’t realised that yet.

But since I’m feeling stroppy, you’ll get the FULL story. : )

OK. Regular readers will be aware that bras have not been easy. I’m officially a 42B now and, before that, was briefly a 42A. As far as many manufacturers are concerned, there’s no such thing. As for the High St: pretty much forget it!

It has made bra shopping as much a disappointment as shoe shopping. I can look – but I can’t buy.

(OK – M&S do a 42B, but as I’ve discovered to my cost, the same size comes in many shapes and so far I fit only one of their efforts).

Its an anatomy thing. No matter how much weight I lose off my tummy, short of doing a Cher and having a rib or two removed (which I ain’t contemplating), I am going to have a broad back and a wide rib cage. And that’s a problem that afflicts many of us who transition later on: our skeletons have grown tall and wide and, unless we are exceptionally lucky or invest in a boob job (also not contemplated right now), browsing will ever be a disappointment.

I’d guess it also afflicts a number of women – though in our size 6 culture, who’s listening?

Anyway, listing out the positives, I am now hopeful that I’ll settle down at a 42C (which is perfectly reasonable) and definitely not encouraging any further growth on that front: unlike the Third Reich, my views on “liebensraum” are definitely modest.

Then, a week or so back, I was browsing BHS lingerie section. Ignoring the ludicrous Valentine’s creations, to my surprise and joy I discovered a whole new range, which included almost all the “forbidden sizes”. 42B? Check. 42A. Yes. Even – swoon! – a 44A.

This is news. This is good stuff for the taller trans woman. Its also brilliant news for women of a certain size.

So, being a journo who occasionally writes for fashion-y places – not to mention author of this blog which now regularly hits the 1,000 a week mark – I shot off a polite inquiry to BHS press office.

Ah yes. A retail press office. I shall say nothing more than that the pinnacle of press office excellence seems to be the Police and ACPO, followed by most government departments, local government and pressure groups. Commercial ones limp in a long way below those and… I wonder, sometimes, why business bothers to employ press offices at all.

Not, I suspect their fault. Rather, that managers have never understood that press works at a different pace from the world of management and hamstring their own staff by not responding in anything other than a geologic timescale to simple queries.

As happened here. Was this a new range? A new initiative by BHS? Were they going after an unfulfilled segment of the market? Were they aware this was brilliant news for the trans community? In inquiry terms, it was the nearest I get to doling out a free hit. A long way different from “What was the chief executive of BHS doing on the night of the 14th and was the significance of the cucumber?”

No answer. Tum-ti-tum. I poked. No answer for a bit longer. Then, finally,

“We stock sizes 32B(but we do some 34A and 36A) -44FF. We are looking to trial some 30A sizes to see how they go so will keep you posted on these. We are constantly monitoring the sizes that we cover and get feedback from stores and customers so check we cover the majority of sizes.”

Er, yes. Woohoo! Not. That answers the brief how? I’m sorry – and really sorry for my contact in the press office who was probably at the mercy of someone further up the management chain on this. But that was lazy. Probably lazy on the part of the buyer.

It turned a bright, positive story into a negative. BHS still get the cover but, instead of it being about what super news it is for the trans community, its this bitter sweet epistle. Oh, if you need a bra, I’m sure you’ll head there now.

But unlike Boots – still, despite our recent falling out, my poster girl as transiest friendliest retailer on the High St – BHS get nul points, publicity-wise, for this effort.



2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Liz Church said,

    Long since given up on bras. I’m about 42A/B and the last lot I tried were uncomfortable. I am the princess of pea fame and there’s no way I’ll put up with it. Instead, I use as weights a pair of 2kg lump hammers purchased from B&Q with change from £20. This keeps them toned very nicely thank you very much. They also crush garlic quite effectively and make useful doorstops. No bingo wings neither nor nuisance callers at the door.

  2. 2

    Anne Mills said,

    Help is at hand in the form of Bra Extenders, a simple piece of fabric with hooks and eyes

    Hope it helps

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