I sat in the English lounge, reading for class. I kept glancing down at my legs – in pants! It was still a little hard to believe those were my legs, not covered in a skirt, but in jeans.
I had a habit of fiddling with my neckline, making sure it covered my collarbone. Today, it definitely didn’t. I was wearing a boatneck sweater, and my neckline felt utterly exposed. As I fiddled with it, I realized that my bra strap kept showing.
Every few minutes, while I continued reading, I pulled the neckline closer to my neck, trying to make sure my bra straps were covered.
A classmate came into the lounge and sat down next to me. We were chatting, and I kept pulling my neckline up over my bra strap. If I had been talking to a woman, I may have said something to her about how uncomfortable I was. I may have attempted some camaraderie about “girl problems.”
But this was a guy! And my bra strap was showing! I was mortified, and I panicked.
I texted my female friend from college, a colleague from my time at the writing center as a peer tutor.
“Urgent help! I’m wearing a kind of boat neck sweater, and the neckline keeps slipping and my bra strap keeps showing. I’m basically sitting with one hand holding the neckline but I can’t keep doing that! Help!”
“Haha! It’s prob too big for ya. Put your scarf back on or tuck a tiny piece of the fabric under the strap for now. Future solutions, double sided tape or safety pin if the shirt is worth it.”
I didn’t understand why she started with a “Haha!” This was serious, troubling!*
I started using double-sided tape. I would stick a piece to each bra strap on my shoulder and then press the sweater down onto it.
Eventually, I realized that a bra strap showing is not a tragedy, and it’s definitely not sexual, and that my male classmate probably didn’t even notice it. He definitely did not think I was propositioning him by flashing my bra strap at him.
*sidenote: the friend who texted this to me later read this blog post and apologized, horrified to have been dismissive of my fears. So I just want to clarify: I knew I was being ridiculous, but I couldn’t help it. I was grateful for her help and was never upset with her.