Life with the Girls

Love, Deferred

Emily Andrews found the love of her life more than two decades ago; she just didn’t know it at the time. One ex-husband and two kids later, wedding bells are ringing for her all over again in this month’s “Life with the Girls.”


Emily and her new old flame.

“I’ll always bring coffee,” he said, after I thanked him for surprising me with Starbucks. My heart jumped; it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment in my life.

I was going through a divorce, I had two young kids, and he was essentially saying, “I’ll always be here to help you.”

My coffee fairy was actually my best friend from high school. Almost 20 years after graduation, here he was sitting next to me at my eldest daughter’s gymnastics class. We had recently reconnected, and he had stopped by during a break from work to keep me company.

He and I first met at a high school football game when I was 14 and he was 15. The next year, we were class officers and on yearbook together. We spent weekend nights hanging out with our friends; we could talk and laugh for hours. Spring break of our senior year, we spent an entire day together—I’m not sure how it ended up being just the two of us that day, but we had the best time swimming, eating and hanging out.

I was always drawn to his outgoing, caring personality, but we stayed “just friends.” He had a girlfriend, and I had a boyfriend. Our mutual friends always told me he was in love with me, but it was never the right time for us.

After college, I moved from our home state of Indiana to New York City to work at a magazine. He moved to Indianapolis, with a brief stint in D.C. Our high school group remained close, and he and I saw each other at weddings and get-togethers every so often. After six years in New York, I moved back home, married and with a baby on the way.

Fast-forward to gymnastics class. I was single again, and this time around, it finally felt like everything was falling into place. He was unattached, too, and quickly becoming a huge emotional support for me. We traded texts and funny memes on Facebook. I could vent my feelings to him: He was there when I needed him but gave me space when I wanted it. He did his best to try to make me smile. For the first time, I started to think of him as more than a friend.

But now I was worried about fully bringing him into my life. The logistics and legalities of my divorce were still being worked out. I was anxious about finances and life as a single mom. I told him I couldn’t believe that he would want to get involved in my mess of a life. He quoted me the lyrics of that Vance Joy song: “Your mess is mine.” I was the only one with hesitations. He was all in.

Another worry of mine: Physically, things had changed over the years. I have stretch marks and a mom pooch that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. When I look back at pictures from high school, it’s hard to believe my chest was ever so perky. But in the end, none of it mattered—he still admired me for who I was at my core and, as adults with busy jobs, kids, chores and workout routines, who has time to worry about stretch marks and sagging skin?

Speaking of kids, mine took to him pretty quickly. He colors with them, plays princesses and reads to them. He is playful and silly, loving and caring, responsible and kind. So kind that he sends me a “good morning” text detailing different reasons he loves me every day when he gets to work. He brings me flowers when I’m having a rough day. He tells me that he dreams about me, even though I’m sleeping right next to him. (It’s pretty awesome to be someone’s literal dream girl.) At 38, he makes me feel like I’m 18 again.

Of course, we’ve had bumps in the road. We have a co-parenting schedule to juggle, and there have been times I’ve pushed him away because I’ve been upset about one of my kids being sad, or I’m overloaded with tasks and chores, or I’m exhausted and feeling overwhelmed.

“Some things in life feel inevitable, if only in hindsight”

He asked me to marry him. Next year, we’ll finally say “I do” surrounded by our family and friends. My daughter and niece will be bridesmaids, and my youngest daughter, a flower girl.

When I texted one of our high school friends last year and told her we were dating, it took her, I kid you not, less than a second to respond, “It’s about damn time.” Needless to say, our friends are as over the moon as we are. Some things in life feel inevitable, if only in hindsight.

I can’t wait to celebrate the fact that, ultimately, I found love right where I left it. It was there all along. We just had to live 23 years apart—23 years of experiences, relationships, loneliness and heartache—to find it.

Life with the Girls

The Sum of Her Parts

It took getting divorced for Jill Waldbieser to remember that her boobs are far from her greatest asset. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” Jill finds freedom from a culture that tends to worship women one body part at a time.

Jill in her maternity bikini 

There’s a photo of me in one of my mom’s old albums that’s all tomboy: shaggy blonde pixie cut, scraped-up knees, missing tooth, no shirt. I remember running around like that a lot on humid summer nights, not a care in the world.

I also remember when my next-door neighbor told my mom I needed to start wearing a bra. I was in fourth grade, and despite a steady diet of Judy Blume paperbacks, had zero enthusiasm for bra shopping. I didn’t really develop until 16, but when I did, it was like my body had decided to make up for lost time. My boobs grew so fast, they left stretch marks in their wake. Seemingly overnight, I had to trade my cute, comfy triangle bralettes for heavy-duty underwire.

Grunge was in fashion, so I buried my chest under baggy T-shirts and let an unbuttoned flannel flap around for added distraction. The last thing I wanted was any visible signs of swelling or cleavage. What I had, in my mind, were twin burdens. They made me less aerodynamic, harder to dress, took a lot of time and money to deal with and, for all that, didn’t confer any special benefits that I’d noticed—most people would never have even guessed I was a D-cup.

That changed when I met my (now-ex) husband. He was a quintessential boob guy: the bigger, the better. He worshipped Pamela Anderson. There was no doubt which of my assets he liked best, and as someone who had never been happy with the size or shape of her breasts, that kind of appreciation was refreshing. It was a silver-ish lining when pregnancy swelled my cup size four letters (I didn’t even know anyone made an H) and trying to find a bikini meant a weekend-long deep-dive. The day my milk came in, as I stared at the mirror in stunned disbelief that they could get even bigger—cartoonishly rounder and perkier, too—he just grinned like he’d won the lottery.

Life with the Girls

The Reduction

Constance Costas was hoping for more noticeable results when she went under the knife. The failure to get what she wanted, she realized, lay as much with herself as it did with her surgeon. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” find out why she felt fooled, and what it took to finally find her voice.


Constance before…

My conversations these days are peppered with photos. Ask about my friend’s wedding and I’ll whip out my phone, scroll to her fabulous dress and play you a video of the first dance. Photos get the message across in ways words can’t always manage.

So it seemed odd when I met with an excellent plastic surgeon to talk about a breast reduction and noticed there wasn’t a photo in sight. After two more consultations, my unease upgraded to concern as I sat across his office manager’s desk. She reviewed my pre-op paperwork before asking brightly, “Any questions?”

“How will he know?” I ventured, trying to assign the right words to the hazy question mark that lingered in my mind.

“Know what?” she asked.

“My size? Why haven’t I seen any pictures?”

I’d always been a modest B-cup, which crept up to a C after having two children. Menopause brought hormonal upheavals and ten extra pounds. By the time a Bra Fit Expert got me into a 36E, my girls had become impossible to conceal. While some women delight in this midlife bonanza, I felt betrayed.

Life with the Girls

Table for One

Food writer Karla Walsh has never been interested in settling for the first menu option. So despite all her friends pairing off around her, right now she’s toasting to her own companionship. Find out what it took to get there in this month’s “Life with the Girls.”


Author Karla Walsh.

As a ‘retired’ restaurant reviewer, I often find myself relating aspects of my life to the world of food.

Take relationships. The metaphor I give friends who have already reached #couplegoals status is that the best partnerships are akin to a bag of Starburst. You and your plus-one shouldn’t be identical (a duo of Kit-Kat or Twix), nor should you come from opposite ends of the candy aisle (say, a Sour Patch Kid with a Peppermint Patty). Ideally, you have the same essential make-up, but maybe your partner is a yellow, and you’re a red. You complement each other. (Just try a red and yellow Starburst in one mouthful and convince me that combo isn’t magical.)

Author Karla Walsh.

At 32 and single in Iowa, where nearly everyone pairs off and settles down within a few years post-college, I appear to some as an ice cream cone melting in the scorching summer heat. In fact, Iowa ranks 5th out of 50 for states with the most marrieds.

“Your clock is ticking, Karla!” I hear on occasion.

“What are you, an ice queen or something?” I imagine others thinking when I show up solo once again at a couples’ outing.

But my relationship with myself has been such a priority over the last 15 years that a partnership with another person simply hasn’t been possible. At 16, I decided that my 180-pound body, DD breasts and size 12 clothes simply wouldn’t do. A year later, I had whittled myself down to 94 pounds, AA breasts and 00 (or smaller) apparel. I spent the next decade conquering an up-and-down battle with anorexia, making peace with myself, learning to love me for—not in spite of—my quirks, my sass, my well-endowed chest, my stretch marks.

Life with the Girls

The Foundation Holds

What we wear has a way of defining the times of our lives. In “Life with the Girls” this Valentine’s Day, Janet Siroto sifts through three decades’ worth of memories to find that, though so much has changed, things have actually held up pretty well.


Janet, with Jason, in their new apartment

I was rooting around the back of my dresser, packing up to move out of the house I’d lived in for the last 15 years…years that saw our kids go from boys to men, filling the house with longboards and electric guitars. Years that saw my husband and I through midlife milestones good (woo-hoo, bigger and better jobs!) and not so good (boo-hoo, how did we get this deep into the home-equity line of credit?).

Janet, with Jason, in their new apartment

In the way, way back of the dresser, wedged behind socks, was The Green Bra. It was like unexpectedly bumping into an old friend you barely recognize: Here was this ancient lace thing in a squint-inducing shade of fluorescent green, a memento of single-girl days deep in the past. It brought back waves of memories: gallivanting around NYC’s East Village in its rough-and-tumble incarnation, when crack vials littered the streets and you could still pass Joey Ramone, may he rest in peace, on the corner. It reminded me of flirting in dive bars where tsunamis of cigarette smoke washed over us; of wearing skirts so short they were more like very wide belts; of emerging from clubs as the sun rose.

The Green Bra embodied a transitional time. It was bought when I was a wild young thing and stayed in rotation for a brief period when I was an engaged woman, but it disappeared when I was a wedded lady. No need to send an “eyes over here!” message anymore.

The Green Bra got me thinking. As my marriage nears its 30th anniversary—the same age I was when I wed my husband—I looked back over the pieces that defined the eras of our union.

Life with the Girls

Short Change

A dramatic haircut is legendary for changing your mood, but who knew it could change the way you feel about your body? In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” Suzan Colón had to let go of her hair to regain the sense of control she had been missing.


Suzan Colón
Suzan Colón, post-pixie

I have a friend who used to patiently listen to me complain about one thing after another. When I was finally done, she’d say, “But the important thing is, your hair looks great.”

My hair has always been one of my most noticeable features. When I was little, that mass of dark waves almost overwhelmed my face, and certainly overwhelmed my Mom when she tried to detangle me every night. As I got older, I grew to like my big, wild hair; it was boho, it had personality, and it equalized my figure, evening out my full hips and small breasts.

This past summer, my feelings about my hair, and myself, changed drastically. A work project ran into problems I could not fix. A family member had a health crisis, and I began making trips, two hours each way, to visit. The weather got hotter, and as the heat index rose, so did my hair’s frizz index. I was somewhere in between a chic spring bob and my usual shoulder-length hair, so I couldn’t tie it back. Heaps of waves sat on my head like an overheated sheepdog, getting in my eyes, refusing to be styled and generally driving me crazy. Each morning, after trying and failing to make my hair look presentable, I’d sigh and slouch in defeat, my breasts almost hidden in the posture of despair.

My husband was the one who suggested I cut my hair off. He’d found an old photo of me with a pixie cut, which I had gotten after a poorly done bob. In the picture, taken during a far calmer summer years ago, I was sitting tall and smiling widely. I looked balanced. I looked happy. I looked like me.

Life with the Girls

The Real Bra Dictionary

As she gets set to turn the calendar page on this decade, reluctant full-bust expert Laura Lifshitz looks back in this month’s “Life with the Girls” on all the bras she’s ever known, loved and lost. line

All grown up: writer-comedienne Laura Lifshitz

The first bra I ever bought was in sixth grade. It was white, with a ribbon flower in the middle. Size 28AAA. I didn’t even need it.

I grew up in a house of women—three older sisters and my mother—practically drowning in bras and maxi pads. Wondering when it would be my turn to join the club, I did a few of those “must increase my bust” exercises, knowing full well they didn’t work but also figuring they couldn’t hurt. So when my best friend down the street showed me her new training bra, I refused to wait a second longer.

I stood in the driveway until my mom got home, blocking her car from the garage.

“This is serious business,” I told her.

Looking stricken, she walked me quickly into the house. When she heard the “important news” that I wanted a bra, she was so relieved, she gave in.

Two years later, I was fully developed, and the family big breast gene kicked in. Living above the D-cup line, sometimes I think I’ve experienced all the bras. And just as some women recall past lovers with affection or disgust, on the eve of a new year, I feel the need anthologize the bras that have loved and left me or, rarer still, stayed.

Asymmetrical, off-the-shoulder bra: Surely decomposing in a garbage dump somewhere. At one point in the eighties, the look was one-shoulder tops. I needed to get my fill of the trend to flush it from my system. This unitasker cut into my chest and offered no support, but I had to buy in. I was desperate, and when a woman is desperate, one way or another, she will pay.

BandeauIf there ever was a style that doesn’t look amazing when you’re top-heavy with ample side boob, it’s the bandeau. I was a stubborn teen fighting reality and destiny when I purchased more than one neon bandeau top. I was, I learned, the subject of much young male conversation. Years later, I tried again with with a nude bandeau bra. I’m happy to report that I have finally learned my lesson and not yet made the same mistake thrice.

Backless: To wear a low-back dress to a wedding, I used the Voluptuous U Plunge Backless Strapless Bra from Fashion Forms. I did the tango, did not droop and got to wear a sexy dress without fiddling with my bra all night long. Thank you, Fashion Forms, for being a hot date. The guy? Meh, he was so-so.

BalconetteBeautiful, feminine, lacy and a little racy. Have you ever felt like a Renaissance queen? If you’ve worn a balconette bra, you have.

Bralette: What unites womankind, I think, is the boundless hope of always finding a miracle in the form of a bra. Previously filed under mission: not accomplished…until I found Cosabella’s Never Say Never Sweetie Bralette.

Chantelle: Once I got into the right size, all was right with the world; ever since, I’ve had a blazing love affair with this bra  brand that offers a vast array of sizes and styles.

Convertible braI was feeling hopeful for my future when I bought my first convertible bra. Though it took me longer than I care to admit to figure out the different configurations, and I was notorious for losing one of the straps deep in the abyss of my lingerie drawer, the freedom to express my every mood and fashion whim was intoxicating.

MaternityI spent most of my first trimester in the hospital, braless, throwing up so much my ribs ached. My breasts were becoming massive, as my mother helpfully pointed out. As soon as I was sprung, I loaded up on maternity bras in cups G and H, and I wondered if I might don a Z-cup before my daughter was born.

MinimizerI know this type of bra is a blessing for many ladies. For so long, it was one of the only options I had. At the time, minimizers were akin to what your Grandma Myrtle wore. While comfortable, I looked like I was 14 going on 90. We’ve come a long way, babes.

Natori: It’s an addiction, really. I’m currently stopping myself from buying another shade of the Feathers Plunge Bra. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m giving in and checking out.

Nursing bras: I breastfed my daughter past her first year. I was a leaker, frequently lumpy and engorged. Suffice it to say these bras were a lifesaver, and I’m happy I’ll never need to wear one again.

Push-up bra: Not generally something a DD+ woman requires, but hey, I was getting divorced and needed a few kicks. What’s wrong with a boost, mental or physical? Padded bras gave me both. Sometimes I look downright pornographic; other times, juuust this side of it.

Sports braThe right one is serious stuff. It can make or break your workout. Wacoal, one of my favorite brands, made the first sports bra I ever had. Now, when I put on their High Impact Sports Bra, I feel like my breasts rule the world. Or at least the gym.

Strapless: I’ve had many a strapless bra in my time and lived to hate quite a few. (You really don’t know suffering unless you’ve worn the wrong strapless bra.) But I’m also unspeakably grateful for a handful. Though it took a great deal of trial and error, I thank the moon and stars for leading me to Paramour’s Marvelous Strapless T-Shirt Bra.

Wacoal: This brand opened my eyes to the possibilities that existed beyond the austere bras of my early years. Finding this brand was like making a lifelong friend. Water in the desert of womanhood. A real miracle. A reason to believe.


Life with the Girls

East Meets Breast

When Zainab Akbari was growing up under her parents’ conservative roof, she never talked about her body. So how on earth did she get to be a Bra Fit Expert? Find out in this month’s edition of “Life with the Girls.”


I will say this until the day I die: I love my family, and I will do anything for them. But let me tell you what, growing up as a girl in a strict Muslim household, the only sister to three boys, was anything but easy. Growing up as a girl is hard enough, period, what with actually getting a period and having to pick out a different outfit Every. Single. Day. But then you add the parents, the brothers, the whole conservative culture in the mix, and it’s basically just a recipe for door-slamming.

Life with the Girls

The Mastectomy Whisperer

Though her prophylactic mastectomy is behind her, Lambeth Hochwald will never stop helping other women facing the procedure. Find out why in this month’s “Life with the Girls.”


Earlier this year, I got a note via LinkedIn from a reader of a mastectomy-related essay I wrote for Glamour. I replied to her immediately.

Despite the fact that she’s a decade older than me and 14 years behind me on the path to a prophylactic mastectomy, our shared BRCA status unites us. In fact, we’re friends now.

Since my mom and my aunt developed breast cancer and, one by one, we learned that we carry the high-risk BRCA mutation, I have become a mastectomy whisperer of sorts. It may sound like a weird side gig, but I consider it my duty to help others navigate the complicated and painful path to coming to terms with the implications of being a BRCA carrier. (This mutation, known as either BRCA1 or BRCA2, ups your lifetime risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer by a considerable percentage.)

Why not move on, now that I’ve graduated from the panic I felt when I discovered that I have an error on my DNA strand? After all, that genetic glitch likely stretches back to Dora, my great-grandmother, an immigrant who came to this country and died at age 53 of an ovarian cancer so insidious that they ‘opened her up and closed her up,’ according to family lore.

Why not focus on other things now that I no longer need mammograms or breast MRIs (my original pair has been replaced by a reconstructed duo), and I had my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed when my now-15-year-old son was just three?

Life with the Girls

Taking a Weight Off

File under things no one ever tells you: When you lose more than a few pounds, your chest could be the first to disappear. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” writer Jonna Gallo works on accepting the changes her body is going through…both those she wanted and those she never expected. 


I lived my life under the impression that I was well-endowed. Busty. Zaftig. Stacked. As it turned out, I was mostly just overweight. Surprise!

I’ve been gaining and losing fairly substantial amounts of weight since I was about 15 years old. I’d lose 20, then gain 25. Lose 25, gain 30. The net effect of this wash-rinse-repeat loop was that, by my mid-40s, those extra gains had added up, and I was rather seriously overweight.

My lovely internist, head tilted to the side and with a kind but worried expression, encouraged me at my annual visits to “start addressing it,” saying it would only be harder as I crossed the threshold into my 50s. (What the what? I’m still, like, 33. Aren’t I?) In my heart of hearts, despite being all for the body positivity movement, I alighted onto a few hard truths: My energy was low, my spirits were lower and I had very few pieces of clothing that I genuinely felt good in. The whole situation was a brain drain and a bummer.

Jonna Gallo
Jonna on her wedding day.

Then, last winter, my husband got sick. Life-or-death sick. Sitting by his bed in the Intensive Care Unit for six days and nights, staring at the monitors, idly counting the beeps, attempting and failing to doze, I somehow arrived at the conclusion that, for the sake of my own health, I should get some weight off.

Life with the Girls

Coming to Grips

When your breasts have long been your best asset, it can be a pretty rude awakening how much they change after nursing two kids. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” the always camera-ready Dawn Yanek explains how she eventually embraced her postpartum pair. 

“Mom, your boobs are really squishy.”


So said my 7-year-old son as we were cuddling recently, and he nestled the back of his head against my chest. I stifled a laugh and kept snuggling.

It was only a few minutes later that I realized how weird it was, my non-reaction. His remark didn’t even faze me, but it was a far cry from how I used to think of myself.

Once upon a time, I thought of my breasts as a really great accessory. More effective than any necklace or designer handbag, they were my go-to statement piece. They could be dressed up or dressed down; they could make or break an outfit. They were many things, and squishy was not one of them.

But when I became a mother, I realized that my boobs are more like a Rorschach test. How I think about them depends on how I think about myself. For the past few years, that’s been all mom, all the time.

Life with the Girls

Personal Baggage

Even in paradise, Kristen Jules had a tough time accepting her post-baby body. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” a stressful run-in with airport security forces her to unpack the angst she’d been carrying around.  


Kristen’s Cancun selfie

There are many good things about breastfeeding your kids. Being mistaken for a drug mule isn’t one of them. Yet there I was, attempting to fly home to my babies after a romantic weekend getaway in Mexico, waylaid by a smirking woman in khakis wielding a stick.

“Step aside, miss,” the TSA agent in Cancún instructs after I pass the initial security scan. My heart starts to race; our plane boards in an hour. We’re tired, hungry, a bit hungover.

“Why?” I ask, slightly annoyed by the inconvenience. I’m told that my bag was flagged for a suspicious item and that I would have to wait for a more thorough inspection of my belongings.

Soliiiiid, I think as I watch her begin to unpack my garments one by one with the kind of pointer a teacher in grade school might use to rap on the board.

One after the next, the various breast-enhancing undergarments that I’d brought along were produced. I had breastfed my two children for three years all in, and my naturally perky 36Cs had deflated a few cup sizes. Push-up bras made them look worse; not wearing a bra was no longer an option. At 35, I felt like I had lost one of my best assets, and no amount of double-sided tape or chicken cutlets was going to fix the problem.