A woman must be as selective in choosing her undergarments as she is in choosing her friends because just like a real pal, a well-fitted bra can support and compliment just as easily as it can interfere and impede. Though most of us head to a chain like Victoria’s Secret to buy a one-cup-size-fits-all bra, there are still those few lingerie shops around the country in which the owner helps each distinctive body find its perfect brassiere, for any occasion.
In Ilana Stanger-Ross’ novel, Sima’s Undergarments For Women, protagonist Sima adores introducing her customers to new friends like underwire bras, strapless bras, enhancing bras, suck-it-in bras, etc. In fact, Sima has been helping women love their bodies and enhance their assests for so long in her basement shop in the ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood where she lives that she can tell a woman’s bra size immediately. Unfortunately, the only person Sima can’t seem to correctly (emotionally) size, growing distant from her husband and friends, is herself. That is until the arrival of a vivacious new employee, Timna, shakes up her store and her life.
With her customers’ never-ending stories and juicy secrets, Sima has been able to keep her own secrets bound as tightly as the breasts she helps shape. But when Sima finds herself interfering in her young, Israeli employee’s private life and aching for Timna as if she were her own daughter, the bra-monger is forced to unclasp her own painful past to understand her motivations. It is in this process of unhooking the rivets of her memory and removing the emotional constraints that Sima finds her own happiness, her own perfect size.
Margaret Teich is a freelance environmental writer and eco-consultant living in New York City. Check out her blog, Gspotting.net.