When I asked Lifetime’s “Double Divas”, Molly Hopkins and Cynthia Decker, why they went into the lingerie business, Molly responded, “Cause I got big jugs.” And thus my lively and delightfully honest interview with the owners of LiviRae Lingerie began.
I only discovered Lifetime’s new reality show a few weeks ago. After watching a few episodes and writing my own review of the show, I knew I had to speak to the Divas themselves. Before I knew it, I was on the phone with them, listening to their signature southern twang. As a somewhat inexperienced interviewer, I was extremely nervous – what if I didn’t come up with the right questions? What if the conversation fell flat? I shortly discovered that my worries were in vain. Molly and Cynthia were extremely forthcoming with their answers and not afraid to be passionate. Beyond that, they were clearly the experts “Double Divas” makes them out to be.
Ever since high school, Molly Hopkins has had to make clothing alterations to accommodate her need for size 6 bottom and size 16 top. As she mentioned at the beginning of the interview, Molly has had to deal with being bustier than what is considered normal. “[In high school] I would sit at the table and be hunched over because people would always say, ‘You’re pushing your boobs out.’ And I’m like, ‘No, let me show what happens if I do that.'” Molly said a lot of people thought of her as overweight. In addition to all of these body image pressures, Molly had a lot of trouble finding a bra that would properly support her.
When she first put on a bra that was her proper size, a 36GG, Molly was extremely moved. She was even able to describe the bra to me: green velvet with gold and black adornments. But Molly was shocked by the difficulties she continued to encounter as a woman who required a larger size. “I can’t be the only person with this issue, and there’s gotta be resources. I just couldn’t believe that there weren’t,” she told me. In college, Molly finally discovered a lingerie store that offered a large array of bigger sizes, but she couldn’t afford the large expense. It was around that time that Molly changed her career focus from music to fashion, with an expertise in lingerie.
Cynthia, on the other hand, described herself to me as being in the “smaller category, but [she] always wanted boobs.” At first, Cynthia was “pretty dead-set” against implants, but after some convincing from her then husband, she underwent two surgeries that she doesn’t regret: “They’re great – I wouldn’t trade it.” This bra size “jump” from a 38B (or so she was lead to believe given bra size misconceptions) to a 32G gives Cynthia somewhat of an advantage. “I can relate on both sides, I guess, in a different way,” she says. The first lingerie store she worked at in Kennesaw, Georgia, only went up to a C cup size. It soon became clear to her that bigger cup sizes were needed, not just a larger band size. She then moved on to become a fitter at Intimacy, a lingerie store that caters to a wide range of sizes, where she met Molly, who was also a fitter.
The two soon discovered their common passion for breast health and education, and decided they were meant to open their own boutique. “We’re trying to fully educate women on what we’re doing while we’re doing it and why it’s gonna work to really benefit their breast health long term. It’s bra 101, it’s what we like to call it.” While there are many boutiques and lingerie stores that offer a variety of sizes, the price range can be ridiculous. By opening LiviRae, Molly and Cynthia wanted to offer many different sizes within a price range that more people could afford.
While LiviRae provides up to an N cup, Molly and Cynthia make it a rule not to reveal a customer’s true bra size until the end of the fitting. Given our society’s misconceptions, they find that the customer will often get hung up on the number instead of the look and fit of the bra. What a lot of women, and men, don’t realize is that D is not a big cup size. When a woman puts on a bra that is the proper size, her entire figure can change; the fit of the particular bra is the most important thing. As Cynthia and Molly like to say, “We don’t change you, we change the landscape.”
In addition to providing women with proper breast support, Molly and Cynthia feel very strongly about educating women about proper breast health and body image. They believe that a lot of the misconceptions about bras come from a universal lack of knowledge about bras. At LiviRae, Cynthia and Molly try to fit women in a way that’s not so “taboo.” They don’t want women to be ashamed of their size, or ashamed to properly take care of themselves. They want women to “not worry about what they look like when they take their clothes off, because we’re gonna hook you up.” Molly and Cynthia also fight retailers’ misconceptions about bras. While department stores might offer good brands such as Anita or Wacoal, they won’t offer the larger sizes. Customers also go into those stores believing they’re one size, most likely the wrong size, and then don’t seek help.
Other stores only seem to offer push-up bras, which Cynthia insists “push out.” In fact, some of the only women who can wear push-up bras are those who truly wear an A or B cup. Cynthia also explained to me that push-up bras can cause malformations for those with new implants, resulting in a “drawing up” and hardening of the muscle tissue. It can take up to a year for breast enhancement surgery to heal, Cynthia explained, but women want to get fun new bras right away. And unfortunately, the most popular type of “fun bras” are push-ups. And oftentimes, it seems that stores only offer push-up bras.
As the interview began to wind down, I asked Molly and Cynthia about Jean-Denis Rouillon’s study about the benefits of going braless. The moment I explained the study, there was an explosion of protests over the phone, causing me to almost drop it. Both Cynthia and Molly insisted that if the subjects of the study had worn their proper bra size from the beginning, “they’d be up there,” thus confirming my suspicions that the study was probably misinformed given the fact that most women wear the wrong bra size to begin with. Still riled up, they both went on to tell me that only women who wear a 36B or D (the size most women in America believe they are) can truly remain perky without a bra.
It was after this question that the brash Double Divas of Lifetime truly appeared. While they had a lot to share and spoke over each other so much that it was often hard for me to differentiate their voices over the phone, both Molly and Cynthia were more serious than how they appear on Double Divas. However, they were still outspoken and opinionated in the best way, and their sense of humor was alive and well. The most touching part of the interview for me was when Molly was describing her body image issues in high school. She explained that she had developed a small “dowager’s hump,” a curving of the upper spine, because her breast volume was not properly supported.
As Molly was describing this to me, Cynthia kept cutting in and defending Molly, insisting that the hump is not that big. It was at that moment that I was reminded how close the two women are not only as coworkers but also as friends. And the two weren’t really talking over each other but rather finishing each others’ sentences. It became clear to me that Molly and Cynthia have a partnership where they complete each other, making them the best duo for educating the world about proper breast support. While they each have “a gift to give lift,” as Molly said, their combined efforts make them truly unstoppable.
Be sure to tune into Double Divas on Tuesdays at 10pm Eastern Time on Lifetime!