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Your Voices: Erica, size 34AA

Erica: I have two things I'm dealing with when it comes to bras. First, I am an African-American woman with very dark skin, so the so-called "nude" color of whatever bra I might be interested in is usually not going to be anywhere near my natural color. And second is my hard-to-find size of 34AA.

Bras Outside the Box: Given this double challenge you're facing, how have you not just given up on bra shopping?

E: I did give up, more or less. Except there are situations where you need to have something to go under a certain dress and then you have to come to terms. You try to get creative and come up with something that works. You settle for something that doesn't look too weird, but you don't ever get exactly the right thing.

BOTB: Have you ever found a bra that did match your skin tone exactly?

E: Not yet. One that I would love to try is the Nubian Skin push-up bra in Berry, because it looks like it could be at least somewhere close to my actual skin tone, though it could still be too light. And I like push-up bras. But I would have to order it and would not be able to try it on first. There is no way for me to tell ahead of time if it blends with my skin under a white top, or whether it fits right. Since there is no 34AA size there, I would have to get the 34A and hope that it fit well enough.

I found out about Nubian Skin online and I was very glad to know that there is something made just for black women. If they did have my size I would have probably ordered one already.

BOTB: How did you figure out that you needed a 34AA, and have you found a bra in that size that fits well?

E: Yes, I have three 34AAs that fit well and that is how I learned that it's the right size for me (by trying them on).

I was visiting family in another state and needed something to go under a strapless dress for a formal event. I went to an Aerie store there and got the Aerie Audrey bra in a 32A.

The fit was acceptable, but it was very uncomfortable by the end of the night, and when I took it off I had marks around my ribs where it was digging in. But I liked how there was no extra space between me and the bra up at the top of the cups. I ordered another Audrey from the Aerie website in a 34AA and that is the best fit I've had so far. I then ordered two more when they were buy one, get one free. They have these sales regularly and I plan to take advantage of that again at some time in the future.

BOTB: Do you feel like it sends you a negative message about your body and/or skin tone when there isn't anything available on the market to meet your needs?

E: I don't take it personally at all. But nobody can relate much to me when it comes to bras, because my black friends all have bigger breasts and almost all of them are also lighter-skinned than I am. But they do comprehend the nude bra issue, so at least they understand me on that level.

As far as the market not having the bra I need, yes it would be better if there was something available, and hopefully there will be in my lifetime. I will probably order from Nubian Skin if only to support what they are doing, because I think it's so important. Black women need bras that match us.

With skin like mine, you can't wear a white or light-colored bra under a white top and have it not show. You end up having to accept that and either not wear white, or wear a camisole or something that you don't mind showing underneath.

(Editor's note: Erica has agreed to follow up on this blog if she does end up ordering the Nubian Skin bra in Berry, so we'll be able to find out how it works for her.)

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