Sunday, January 22, 2017

We should have burned our bras while we were at it

Saturday, January 21

I marched today, joining millions of other women across the U.S. in the Women’s March. Nothing would have stopped me from showing my solidarity, and solidarity this march was, because although every participant had their own pet issue, we all put our feet to the ground, marching for everything we count as important to our country, from protection against climate change to the protection of LGBT rights. When I got home after marching for two miles in eighty-five degree weather, I rushed to my bedroom and dragged off my bra, flinging it aside with relief. The relief I felt at coming to the end of hours of bondage got me thinking.

I remember my first bra. I didn’t need it. I never needed a bra except when I was pregnant, nursing and when finally, after menopause, the boobs I had always wanted appeared. But that first bra was a badge commemorating my passage into womanhood. It stands out among my memories of youth even more than the first time my monthly came.

It wasn’t long before the idea of wearing a bra lost its appeal. The timing of my personal rejection of the bra was perfect. Women were burning them in protests here in the U.S. In London, where I was studying fashion at the time, designers, fashionistas and the generally hip were dispensing with this assault on comfort with glee. The rejection of the bra reached its pinnacle in the super model Twiggy, the woman with the flattest chest ever to appear in a fashion magazine. Hail Twiggy! At least that’s what I, and thousands of women who weren’t generously endowed, thought.

So here I am writing this post on an historic day for women - braless, of course - and remembering two of my aunts also hated wearing bras. I’m told, like me, they’d whip off their bras as soon as they got home. In their senior years, they became recluse. I notice the same thing is happening to me now I’ve entered my own senior years. I don’t know why my aunts became recluse, but I suspect it may have been for the same reason I find myself less and less inclined to go out in public. It’s a drag having to wear an uncomfortable garment for no reason other than for decency’s sake. Did we come a long way, baby? Yes, if you compare today’s bras with the steel-boned stays of yesteryear. But if women have the right to be comfortable without the risk of being labeled a shameless slut, no, we haven’t come that a long way. If appearance, or the need for support, is what motivates us to wear a bra, that’s a different matter altogether.



See my collection of underwear through the centuries on Pinterest. It’s amazing to see what women wore under their clothes in centuries past.