Archive | April 2012

Review: Cleo Sasha Balconette Bra

This review is a long time coming. I meant to post it months ago, but in a way, I am glad I waited. As I’ve been wearing the Sasha regularly for months now, I feel that I can give a much more thorough review than I could before.

The Sasha is a balconette offering from Cleo, a subgroup of Panache. Cleo is marketed as Panache’s “younger” line, which seems to mean “cheaper” and “brightly colored.” The workmanship and materials on this bra are definitely of lesser quality than bras from Panache’s Superbra line. I think that perhaps Panache believes that the women to whom Cleo is marketed will not care about the quality of the bra, but the truth is that women of all ages wear Cleo bras and we notice these things.

Sasha is available in a purple feather print. The cups are two layers, one of printed mesh, and one of a very thin simplex. Since the Sasha was introduced, another bra, Alexa, was also released, one with the same cut as the Sasha, but with a brighter print.

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Boobs and Hormones

In the last year, I’ve bought a lot of bras. Some have worked, some haven’t, but I want to review them all here for you. There is, however, a problem.

The main reason I haven’t been posting here often is that I moved across the country and transferred colleges and am in a demanding atmosphere (which I love! I am very pleased with my decision.)  But there is another reason, and it has to do with my boobs. They keep growing. And growing. Even when I lost weight everywhere else, they kept growing. In the past year-ish I have gone from a 34G to a 34GG, and now I am hovering on the edge of a 34H. My smaller 34GGs (like the Fantasie Savannah and the Panache Andorra) don’t fit me right now. I am absolutely gutted to have some lovely bras that became too small right after I bought them. I certainly didn’t want to take review photos that showed me in too-small bras!

The ever-growing boobs were a matter of distress, then came another problem: suddenly I started gaining weight in weird places. Basically, I gained fat in my back, butt, hips, and lower tummy.  Over the course of 3 months I actually gained an entire pants size! This was super-frustrating because a few years ago, I dropped from a size 18 pants to a size 14, and I stayed relatively stable since then, so I had very few clothes that would fit me in a 16.  As a person living with hypothyroid disease, I am very aware of how hormones intersect with weight gain, especially with where the weight comes on. For example, one of the ways I was finally diagnosed with thyroid disease (though I have had it all my life, off and on) was that suddenly a few years back I gained 70 pounds in 6 months and it was in specific places: my abdomen, my face, and my feet. It was absolutely abnormal for me to gain that much weight so quickly, but also, it was absolutely abnormal for it to be in those plac

So, this recent weight gain was alarming.  It wasn’t a normal place/way for me to gain weight. There are some factors involved, like the fact that when I get busy or overtired I often forget to take my thyroid meds, or to take my second daily dose. But there were other hormones at play.

I started taking hormonal birth control pills for the first time in early 2011. I did this to combat the dysmenhorrea I have suffered from since I was 17. It has gotten worse and worse, to the point where I am considering hysterectomy, so HBC was a last resort. I started out taking the pill continuously, avoiding menstruation entirely. Last winter, I started giving myself placebo breaks, though, hoping it would slow the growth of my boobs (the pill I take is known for causing breast growth, which I did not know when I began taking it.) It seemed to at first, but then they kept going. And, during the placebo breaks, my “periods” were still pretty painful (the first couple of times I had a break, 3-4 months apart, my “periods” were very light and easy, but when I began having regular breaks, my bleeding time was very painful.)

My first two weeks on HBC, I gained a lot of weight. I thought “fuck this, I’m quitting this pill after this month!” however, I immediately lost all that weight in the next two weeks, so I thought I might be one of those lucky people who doesn’t gain weight on HBC. And I was, until recently. This spring, I had to face that it might be my HBC causing the weight gain. So, I discontinued the pill after my last pack.

I’ve officially been off the pill for two weeks (I stopped taking it three weeks ago, but the first week was the “placebo week” so technically, I was still on the pill.)  Already, I have lost some of the size I gained: I am able to fit into a pair of new pants that was too small when they arrived last week. I’m sad to say that I have not been much better about taking my thyroid meds lately- I’m in the throes of exams. So, it looks like the HBC is indeed to blame.

I am praying that going off of HBC shrinks my boobs. They are truly enormous, y’all. I am only 5’3″, I have a very small frame, and these boobs are heavy. I want to fit back into my favorite bras again, and I want to be able to know which bras will fit me in the future.

If dropping HBC fixes the weight gain and also shrinks my boobs, then I will know that I need to avoid it. And that will lead to another problem: what to do about my periods.  Hysterectomy is back on the table. Of course I would like to avoid one if possible, but I am running out of options.

Before I close, I want to explain here why specifically the weight gain was alarming. Alarm at weight gain might seem to conflict with the Health At Every Size philosophy that I support. I was alarmed by my weight gain for two reasons: one, I know my body, and because of my chronic health problems, I am very attentive to sudden changes within it. Sudden weight gain concerned me that I was dealing with a hormone problem. Two, because of my rapid weight/size gain due to hypothyroid, I learned that my body has an upper size limit in terms of comfort and health. That upper limit is around a size 14.  Once I start climbing above that size, I start to have a lot of other problems. Essentially, I am a short woman with a very small frame, and there’s a limit to how much flesh that frame can safely and comfortably carry.