To wear a bra or to burn a bra, that is the question

Second-wave feminists are often reported to have burned their bras in protest of restrictive beauty standards for women, but this is a myth. Feminists did throw items into a trash can at the 1968 Miss America Pageant, but they didn’t burn any. As explained by

“The Miss America Protest apparently gave birth to one of the greatest myths of the women’s rights movement: the myth of bra burning.

The protesters at the Miss America Pageant threw items of their oppression into a “freedom trash can.” Among these items of oppression were girdles, high-heeled shoes, some bras, copies of Playboy magazine, and hair curlers. The women never lit these items on fire; throwing them out was the symbolism of the day. It has been reported that the women attempted to get a permit to burn the items but were denied because of the danger fire would pose to the wooden Atlantic City Boardwalk.

The intent to set them on fire may have been what sparked the rumor that bras actually were burned. There is no documented instance where 1960s feminists burned their bras, although the legend persists.”

I have not been much of a bra-hater during most of my life, although recently it has been feeling increasingly oppressive to have to have metal underwires under my boobs all day. I have become one of those people who takes off her bra the second she gets home from work, tosses it ceremoniously away, rubs out the sore parts where the wires were, and refuses to put a bra back on for the rest of the evening. How wonderful it is to be bra-free, and let the girls relax in a comfortable cotton T-shirt!

And so I have come to hate bras. For a year now I have been going braless as often as possible. At first I stopped putting on a bra when friends came over. I only have female friends over, so who cares if they see me without a bra on? Plus, some of my female friends don’t wear bras either. Hanging out braless with other braless women is fantastic. We actually get to relax and just be female humans in our natural state, and see each other the way we would look if we weren’t trying to meet standards of perkiness. Why do breasts have to be lifted up in public anyway? Why can’t we just wear them down?

Anyway, then I started leaving the house without a bra. This was scary at first. I started taking the garbage out without a bra, but with a sweatshirt on of course. Then I started going to the corner store without a bra, then to the grocery store. After a while it got less scary. I got used to seeing my breasts hang the way breasts do, and I stopped caring about it. I still always wear two layers of clothing. I don’t go braless in the summer.

I feel so free! My breasts have been liberated from oppression! Well, partially, anyway.

I still think I have to wear a proper bra to work. It looks too weird to have a women’s blouse on with sagging breasts. Even my feminist zeal is not quite bra-phobic enough to rebel against that particular fashion rule. Once in a while, when I have a vest on over my blouse, I can wear a sports bra, which is pretty comfortable, but with just a blouse I wear an underwire bra, to get exactly the right breast shape.

Underwire bras are supposed to be washed by hand and discarded after about a year. They don’t last long because they lose their shape, especially, if like most normal people, you say “fuck it” to the washing instructions and throw them in the machine. Who the fuck has time to wash laundry by hand anyway? Also like most people, I can’t afford to buy new bras every year, and I keep wearing them for a ridiculously long time, long after they no longer fit properly and I get downright homicidal over how uncomfortable they are. Sometimes I think burning my bras would be an excellent idea. I am definitely one of those bra-burning types, after all. I’m definitely the type to prefer a natural look, very comfortable and practical, with nothing artificially lifted up, and I’m the type to rail against unfair beauty standards for women.

I have begun to wonder why and how it came to be that women are supposed to present at all times with breasts lifted up, rounded, nipples covered up but cleavage showing. Why is it that it’s considered obscenity for nipples to show, but women’s clothing often ensures that cleavage is on display? Why is one part of the breast for showing off while another part is completely forbidden from appearing in public? So I decided to read about the history of the bra. I found a book with the tantalizing and titillating title of Support and seduction: the history of corsets and bras. (Author: Beatrice Fontanel.) Here is what I learned.

Bras as we know them today have existed since approximately the 1920s. I expected the bra to have been invented by a man (probably because if I hate something then it probably comes from men LOL #misandry) but no, bras were invented by women. In France, Herminie Cadolle invented the first women’s undergarment that supported the breasts from above rather than from below, as the corset did, in 1889. In the U.S.A, Caresse Crosby also invented a bra and patented it in 1914. Cadolle and Crosby are both very interesting women to read about. For example, Cadolle’s lingerie business supplied undergarments to queens, princesses, dancers, and actresses, including Mata Hari, and her business still exists today.

“Rather than using the hips for a fulcrum as the corset does and gathering the breasts from underneath, the new principle was to hang suspenders from the shoulders to support the breasts from above.” (Support and Seduction, p75)

Before the bra was in widespread use, women were wearing corsets. You have probably heard that corsets were very restrictive, sometimes compressing the internal organs and the ribs in order to create an artificially narrowed waist, and that both doctors and feminists (suffragettes) campaigned against their use. Before corsets, a variety of fashions came and went according to time and place, sometimes lifting the breasts up to make them prominent, and sometimes hiding them. What women did with their breasts often depended on the views of the religious establishment or monarch in power at the time. It also depended on the social class of the woman. Working class women never had expensive lingerie.

Fontanel, the author of Support and Seduction, attributes two surprising social factors to the decline in popularity of the corset. One of them is the tango. Women couldn’t dance the tango in a corset since they were too restrictive for that type of dance. The other was the bicycle. Corsets were not compatible with this new mode of transportation. It seems so strange to me that the fact that corsets were physically harmful was not enough to reduce their popularity. What really did it was the tango and the bicycle, apparently. I don’t think we can possibly say which factors were the most influential, the medical evidence against corsets or new lifestyles that made them impractical, but what is clear to me is that women have been perfectly willing to harm their bodies for the sake of fashion for a really long time. Feminists campaigning against harmful beauty practices is nothing new. When I complain that women shouldn’t have to harm their bodies in order to fit a feminine ideal, I’m part of a very long line of women, going back to the suffragettes, who said the exact same thing. I had a chuckle over imagining this conversation taking place:

Suffragette: “Corsets are destroying your ribs and internal organs! Don’t subject yourself to that torture! Free yourself from oppression!”

Corset-wearer: “My ribs, my choice! Don’t corset-shame me! You’re just corset-phobic!”

Suffragette: *headdesk*

In the 1930s, bras gained the elastic shoulder strap that we are used to today. Other inventions in the 1930s were cup sizes A, B, C, D, padding, and underwires. It was in the 1950s that large breasts lifted up high became popular fashion, and that’s when padded and underwire bras really took off. Hollywood stars and pin-up girls set the standard for what breasts were supposed to look like. Things have basically stayed that way until now. Women are still expected to present with impossibly large breasts, lifted up high, and media images of women are still setting this standard.

It was really, really fun reading about the history of the corset and the bra. What I learned is that I’m actually damn lucky. That’s because, even though I hate my underwire bras, I actually have more choice than women have ever had before, and I don’t live in a time when women are expected to displace their internal organs to create a tiny waist. I have never worn a corset and I’ve always thought of them as harmful and old-fashioned, something that is only worn today as fetish gear. I had no idea what a girdle even was and had to look it up. The fact that I didn’t know what a girdle was is pretty cool—it means that they have largely fallen out of use, too.

I’m lucky because I am living in a time when there are tons of bras available, from the practical and comfortable to the decorative and ridiculous, and they are affordable for most women. I’m lucky that I have so many options and that I have grown up knowing that my undergarments shouldn’t physically harm me.

Fontanel writes:

“When a bra is seen hanging on a clothesline drying, it looks flimsy and comical, but in fact it is a high-precision industrial product. To make one takes twenty or more pieces, in tulle, jersey, or lace—some of them tiny. The first stage is the creation of an incredible puzzle, designed by the pattern-makers, so that when cutting the miles of fabric that pass through the workshop little waste will be left over. Then comes the assembly, which for a moderately sophisticated style may require thirty separate steps, performed by thirty different workers. Stitching, accurate to within a millimeter, fastening off, whipstitching—each operator has only a few seconds to perform her piecemeal task. The bra is the most complex item of dress there is and cannot be made by a machine. Corsetry, in consequence, remains a labor-intensive trade. As has happened in many other areas of the textile industry, its manufacturers have gone abroad to build their factories—to Portugal, Tunisia, Morocco, Greece, and Turkey. All the steps prior to assembly have been computerized and mechanized. But the moment it comes to actually constructing the bra, the best that can be done is to separate the different operations. Each worker—and they are generally women—is charged with a single stitch, perhaps a very small one.” P148.

This gives me a new respect for bras. Here I am imaging burning a bra in protest and I’m forgetting about the people who really are oppressed by bras—the women working in sweatshops to make them. (Bring on the worldwide socialist revolution!)

Soon I’m going to have to throw out my old bras that have loosened and lost their shape and get some new ones. But, you know what, I’m not dreading this anymore. I have been lamenting that I have to wear underwire bras to work and that this isn’t fair, but the weird thing is, I chose those bras. I liked the way they looked. I liked the way my breasts looked in them. If I wanted to change the way I dress, so that I could always have a sports bra on, I could. My problem is not so much that I am forced to wear a bra that I don’t like, it’s actually that I can’t be bothered to make sure they are always fitting me right, and that’s something I can change. And I can still go braless at home and while running errands.

Maybe I’m not a bra-burning feminist after all.

50 thoughts on “To wear a bra or to burn a bra, that is the question

  1. When I was young and breastless, I rarely wore them. Just. Why?
    I wanted them (breasts) when I was a flat-chested teenie, and people called me a boy.

    So now, post meno, breasts finally appear. Too. Late. Bras are worn as and when. Although normally shredded by Tosca Tealeaf.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank goodness I have smallish breasts and there is no need to wear restricting clothing. Even playing tennis for years, I could get away with wearing small undershirts for the little bit of support needed running back and forth on the court.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always hated frilly underwear and bras. When I was a teenager, I always got the plainest bra I could find. Even those came with some stupid little bow in the cleavage area. I promptly snipped it off. When I was older, I discovered sports bras and I’ve never gone back. If you are doing heavy work, like driving a tractor, you will find bouncing is quite painful and, for me, a bra is a necessity. If I’m home, I don’t wear one. Out in public, I would never go without a bra. Even as a butch with a 38A bra size, I still find guys checking out my chest. Yuk!

    Liked by 5 people

      • I hear you! When I couldn’t find a decent pair of granny panties, I switched to men’s tidy whities. They stay where they belong (even when doing heavy physical work), they don’t stretch out, they last way longer than my old underwear ever did and most importantly, they are comfy. I hope I never get in a car accident cause I don’t know how they’d be received in this day and age.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I have gone through my old tee shirts. The ones I no longer wear are destined to become essentially boxer briefs meant to fit my legs. I took apart a pair of undies that fit pretty close to perfectly and then used them to create a modified pattern. The pattern includes two openings for “wings” to pass through so I can use my cloth menstrual pads with the new undies.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Fortunately, I haven’t had to test using pads with these roos. I hit menopause and I couldn’t be happier! After 39 years of monthly hell, I bid that part of life adieu.

          Liked by 3 people

        • I get FotL (“Fruit of the Loom Men’s No-Fly Sport Briefs – Pack of 5”). They’re durable, pretty cheap and look a lot like women’s undies except they’re slightly roomier. I got tired of all the idiotic designs and colors, not to mention the planned obsolescence. The ones I get now come in two of my favorite colors: black and gray.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. I got a breast reduction a little over a year ago and my favorite part is I don’t have to wear bras anymore! I own two sports bras and an athletic top with a built-in bra for exercising and doing high intensity sports (or swimming in; I prefer sports bra + trunks to swimsuits built for girls). I’m gonna have a bonfire to my old, nasty, huge, worn out, pre-surgery bras in the summer.

    I didn’t *have* to wear bras pre-surgery, I guess, but they hurt my back and neck and people would sometimes make comments… Women with large breasts have a harder time escaping sexualization, no matter what they wear. I’m much happier with boobs that are actually proportional to my body and body type now.

    I know you tend to be anti-cosmetic-surgery in general, and I get that. But it is interesting to have the perspective from both sides of the fence (DDs to between A and B).

    Liked by 5 people

        • It really makes me wonder what this culture is doing to women that so many of us find our breasts so physically problematic that we feel the need to have them cut down. I’m talking physiology, not self-esteem or identity or internalized misogyny or anything like that.

          Liked by 2 people

        • There has been some speculation that the growth hormones used in raising chickens and other livestock has had detrimental effects on prepubescent girls, resulting in breast growth and the onset of menses at earlier ages than the average ages of 30-40 years ago prior to their use. I wonder sometimes if it’s more true than not, considering the size of women’s breasts in general now, versus the 60’s and 70’s. I really don’t recall reductions being performed as frequently, but they were only just being considered at that time, so I can’t really say which came first.

          Liked by 3 people

        • It’s illegal to give chickens hormones in the USA. We do allow bovine growth hormone though. But also there are lots of synthetic things on the market and in the environment generally that could potentially act as endocrine disruptors.

          Liked by 4 people

        • MIEP, in reply to your comment above. There is some speculation that as a species we are devolving in some regards, or at least changing. It’s possible that we simply no longer have the musculature we once had to support that much mass.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Well, evolution chooses for reproductive success, not a pain- or trouble-free existence. It’s possible that largeish boobs cause pain but also are better for suckling young or attracting mates or whatever, so they’re selected for despite the trouble they may cause. Or, the endocrine disruptors is a good theory. I already know my hormones and female reproductive system are all over the map, since I have PCOS.

        But I’d be lying if I said my reduction was solely for physiological reasons. It relieved tons of dysphoria and internalized misogyny, made me more comfortable in my body… a 5’3″, <120 lb frame doesn't need disproportional DDs. Especially never having been pregnant… I'd say it was partly to feel comfortable physically, partly to feel comfortable internally, and partly to feel comfortable aesthetically.

        Liked by 3 people

        • We’re really unlike other mammals in a LOT of ways so I don’t think that’s a coherent argument. No other mammal walks upright or gives birth to as helpless an infant, either.

          It’s also important to remember that some mutations don’t serve any purpose at all, or are even directly negative, but are sometimes tied to useful mutations and so they persist. Sickle cell anemia is a great example. Carrying one gene protects against malaria! Two of the genes kills you. But the evolutionary benefit of the single gene perpetuates it and leads to more instances of the dual gene popping up.

          So if large boobs were connected to something beneficial, like idk, being able to store fat better to get through harsh winters, they could be selected for even if they’re detrimental otherwise.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Don’t get me wrong; I think that’s a good theory, too! Humans have a fantastic tendency to fuck shit up.

          I just always try to remember that nothing about evolution “makes sense”–it doesn’t select for the best possible outcome, but the first workable outcome, since mutations themselves are random. Since I have multiple disabilities and often feel betrayed by my body, I’m always reminded that evolution just “wants” us to live long enough to reproduce–not necessarily to be pain-free or even happy. Joke’s on evolution, though… I’m not going to reproduce, ever xD

          Liked by 3 people

  5. I never was fully on board with the idea of “having” to wear a bra, as scandalized as it’s made my mother over the years. I frequently go braless these days, though since I’m larger than average (DD), it can hurt my back and shoulders if I go too many days without a bra. It’s not fun having a large chest with tiny little shoulders. Though I wouldn’t wear it regularly, I am curious to see if anyone makes a functional (i.e., NOT fetish) corset meant to provide support for large-breasted women. A lot of women much larger than I am have complained about regular bras not giving them the kind of support they need, and often having to pay extra for specially-made bras and similar supportive undergarments to not be in pain.

    My pornsick ex talked me into buying bras a size or two too small at Victoria’s Secret, since he thought they looked sexier than the practical bras that were actually made for a woman my size. Those things didn’t have enough material in front, and the straps were too flimsy to properly stay on my shoulders, but I went against my own better judgment yet again, because I was so convinced he was my soulmate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am a size 31I and I go braless almost all the time. I found that my back improved a lot when I took to just carrying weight around. Think buckets of stuff. It’s the same muscles as are used in backpacking.

      It also helps that I don’t work a desk job. If you’re stuck in some job where you have to sit upright a lot, that could likely worsen things?

      Liked by 2 people

    • There are people who make bras for function rather than for fetish. Many of them serve the historic reenactment community, and I wore mine for a very long time while recovering from a back injury. They’re expensive, though, because steel boning is not cheap, so many women in reenactment learn to sew their own, which puts custom fitted corsetry back in the affordable range.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I used to wear sports bras when I was a sporty dyke, but that ended with a nasty motorcycle crash way back last century! 🙂 … when I was working out in the world I’d occasionally wear one, and certainly when I go bicycling in the summer, sweat rashes are no fun at all … but that’s about it. And now, post menopause, I could probably swing the gals over my shoulders and tie ’em behind my head to keep ’em out of the way! 😀

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Interesting read!

    I want to address corsets, because I have practical, personal experience with historical corsetry and have worn them for purposes of my first-person history education programs.

    I haven’t read the particular book you reference, Purple Sage, but it sounds as though the author has missed several important points of the history to wearing corsets, and has perhaps (understandably so) assumed that all women were uncomfortable because they were wearing them laced too tighly.

    In 2010, I purchased the first of four corsets as part of the costuming I wear to interpret a historical person in the 1890s midwestern US. All of my corsets have been custom-made by individuals who specialize in making historically accurate corsets.

    The first thing you need to know is that anything off the rack at the present time won’t fit you the way historical corsets will, because fetish wear is simply that, and it doesn’t take into account the many different factors of the wearer’s measurements and relative structure. Custom corsetry involves over a dozen measurements, and the selection of one of dozens of styles to achieve the support, shaping, and historic silhouette desired.

    The first corset I had made was very problematic, but my ignorance at the time meant I didn’t know there *was* a problem until I had worn it enough for the corset to break in and settle to my shape. A year later, I made an appointment with the maker to visit her studio and have her measure me for a new corset, because it turns out that when I was measured by a friend and we sent to measurements to the maker (a veteran Corsetmaker who was 1,000 miles from my home), we had made a mistake that was then compounded by the Corsetmaker misunderstanding the era I wanted to represent.

    Anyway, we resolved those problems in her studio and corset #2 was a vast improvement. Then, a couple of years later, I had a car accident and my weight increased by about 20 pounds during recovery, which included a suddenly much curvier figure (“hello girls, welcome to the party. Where were you when I was 25 and cared?”).

    By then, I had upgraded my Victorian dressmaking professional to someone who had a lot more experience and education in historic textiles and fitting than my previous dressmaker (the clothes, too, are not something you can buy off the rack if you want an authentic look with historically-accurate details that you can show up-close to a live audience in a presentation). That new dressmaker, although not truly a Corsetmaker, offered to attempt a new corset to accommodate my much more voluptuous shape, and to get a better fit for the mid-1890s.

    See, here’s the thing: MOST women didn’t wear corsets for primarily fashion reasons. They wore them for practical reasons while performing day-to-day physical labor and they needed to support and contain their breasts (and, often, nursing breasts and/or pregnant bellies) for this work. Tight-lacing is something that was popular among a small number of very wealthy women who had servants to do it for them, and tight lacing was generally only in vogue the last two or three decades before corsets dropped off the radar in the 1920s.

    Women homesteaders, women laborers, women farmers, women factory workers, maids, schoolteachers, laundresses–they all wore corsets, nearly without exception–because they had to do a lot of heavy lifting all day long. A corset protects your back and ribcage and, as a natural consequence of its construction, forces you to plant your feet and bend at the knees, not at the waist.

    When a corset fits you correctly, it is not nearly as uncomfortable as you might expect. The main thing it does is keep you back in a static position. While I wouldn’t elect to wear one outside of the work I do, I also don’t have to lift cast-iron pots filled with 40 pounds of boiling water while wearing several layers of long skirts around an open fire. If I did, I would WANT that corset to keep me stable when bending and lifting so I didn’t lose my balance and fall face first into a third-degree burn situation.

    Men also wore corsets at different points in time, and usually in the same way women did, or in the way that many modern construction workers wear safety/lifting belts today. Girls usually got their first corset around the time we get bras today–whenever the breasts begin to make an appearance at puberty.

    For modesty as well as practical labor purposes, just about all women wore some manner of corset, or homemade “stays,” which still supported the back but generally were less complicated garments and used cording for support instead of whalebone or (after the mid-19th century) steel boning. Lacing up the back, the corset should be laced BY THE WEARER, NOT SOMEONE ELSE (ignore movies), so that the fit is comfortable and consistent. The lacing should be open between 1″-2″ down the back, and adjusted from the top to the middle (ties are at the natural waist, not at the bottom) and up from the bottom to the middle. I’ve done it hundreds of times. When people ask me if I’m wearing a corset and who laces me, my answers are: “Of course, no decent woman would go without a corset.” (Because, again, it was a midnset that demanded “modesty” as well as practical function of protecting the back and ribs) and: “Who tied your shoes for you today?” (Like anything else, practice. You learn as a kid and do it the rest of your life on auto-pilot).

    In the 1890s, corsets were available by catalogue and came in a wide array of sizes and cuts. But many women adjusted their readymade corset to get a more comfortable fit. In earlier decades, a corset was made by a local milliner, so the fit was precise to the woman. A readymade corset in the catalogue would set a woman back by anywhere from $1.50-$5.00, which was about the same price range as a pair of shoes. Women usually had one or two “everyday” corsets and–here is where the myth of tightlacing gets traction–Sunday. The Sunday clothes were a woman’s nicest, most current and fashionable outfit, and most ordinary women only had one or two Sunday outfits at a time–perhaps summer/winter–so they often used the Sunday dressing-up as the moment in the week when they mimicked the styles in ladies’ magazines such as Godey’s or Ladies Home Journal or other publications. These were illustrated with drawings (by men) that often exaggerated women’s figures to the impossible (think an 1890s Barbie, drawn by Charles Dana Gibson).

    The corset shape affects how your body is shaped, so clothes (especially Sunday best) must be worn over the particular corset you wore for the fitting of those clothes when they were being made. So a tight-lacing look is achieved with a different corset than your everyday workwear corset, which is probably just an older (former “best”) corset that hasn’t fallen apart yet. Corsets, like bras, break in and settle to your curves and bone structure with time and repeat wearings. So I can’t wear different corsets under the same outfit. My current but very worn out longline corset from 2013 works under the clothes that were made to fit over it, but that corset won’t work under the clothes that were fitted to an earlier or later corset. Right now, a different Corsetmaker is working on corset #4 for me, and her fit is even more precise that the previous people who have made garments for me, so I will only be able to wear the new corset with clothes made to fit with it.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to come in and tske over, but I thought you might be interested to hear from a different perspective from someone who has worn the real thing enough to compare to all manner of modern bras. Oh, and, as for girdles? My mother grew up in the 50s and never embraced the less restrictive standards of later decades, so she wore a girdle when I was a kid in the 70s-80s, and still will if she is going to a wedding or funeral. Her mother died at 99, and INSISTED on wearing a girdle every day of her life. She (grandmother) felt “indecent” without one even though she was very slender. The corset, when discarded by most women in the 1920s, wasn’t replaced simply by bras, but, for a large number of women, by the combination of bra and girdle, every day. If you look closely at old movies and tv shows, even very slim women are usually wearing both–even when they are also wearing a flimsy nightgown. 😉

    Liked by 7 people

      • You’re welcome! It’s a lot to take on, and bras as well as corsets have a complicated history in general, as well as for individuals. Funny: once when I was being measured the clerk “scolded” me for wearing what she believed was the “wrong size bra.” She is was very small-chested, and I am old enough to be her mum. I had to–not as delicately as perhaps I should have–school her on the fact that, despite what her measuring tape tells her, the size she suggested would never work, because there is a very big difference between my left and right. The size I wear accomodates the larger side, but is a bit large for the smaller side. If I wore the size she wanted me to wear, the larger side would not be contained at all, and it would be very uncomfortable. My Corsetmakers have all had to modify the patterns to make the corset work, otherwise the corset will enhance the size difference, making the clothes look strange. Since I work with the public, my photo is taken multiple times at each gig & I have no control over what ends up online, but I can control how I present myself in general. My character was descended of dressmakers and would not tolerate ill-fitting clothes, sonI use her personality quirk as a guide to how I present myself when portraying her. I don’t need an element of the costuming to be visually distracting when I am presenting a person well-known for her fastidiousness. It always startles people who see my presentation when they find out how casually (jeans and tees daily) I dress in my day-to-day life.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Ha! A friend who met me through reenactment commented last month on my Facebook page that it startled him every time he sees me with uncovered hair, especially now that I no longer do reenactment and have it shaved.

          Liked by 3 people

    • So glad to see all this info here – I was going to mention what I’d read about corsets in Ruth Goodman’s “How to be a Victorian” (excellent book!) in which she relates a lot of similar personal experience. In fact, she found wearing a corset mad farm work like gleaning a lot easier on her back! This actually lead to me looking up a similar supportive wrap for my mom’s back problems – there’s an untold story of corsets out there that isn’t all bad, so thanks for relating it!

      Liked by 4 people

  8. All I know is that I am super grateful for some of today’s modern fabrics. I got rid of underwires years ago (I am luckily pretty small) but struggled finding things until the new super stretchy but supportive bralettes came out. Calvin Klein has some super comfy things out these days that make going out in a t shirt in the summer a bit more secure.

    I’ve also been hearing more and more about little comfy stick-on nip-covers (pasties I guess?) that are gaining traction, though I still say if men of all ages can walk around with their nips showing through their shirts why can’t we??

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I only ever wear a wirefree bra because I have sensory issues and the wires really hurt but without wires its less of an oppressive garment I think bc the garment with wires is really similar to a corset when u think about it. Anyone who has the problem with my breasts not being forced up far enough to meet male created beauty standards and fuck off too.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Ah, I love this post and your style of writing so much! And I’m definitely impressed by the amount of research that went into this – it has never occurred to me that there are books on the history of brassieres, but I probably shouldn’t be surprised. I think you make a good point about how, at the end of the day, it really is a choice that we all make about how we want to look. Yes, society definitely plays a part in the that desire, but it definitely has become more commonplace to choose to be comfortable than trendy. We have come so, so far from corsets.


  11. There is some speculation out there of a causal link between bras and breast cancer. I got the following from this website:

    “*Women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer (in their study, n=2056 for the cancer group and n=2674 for the standard group).
    *Women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day but not to bed had a 1 out of 7 risk.
    *Women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 152 risk.
    *Women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer. The overall difference between 24 hour wearing and not at all was a 125-fold difference.”

    Now, is it the actual wearing or the chemicals and synthetics in the material?”

    Also, it’s worth considering that bras have not always been universal attire for women the way it is now. Indeed there have been (and probably still are) cultures where this article of clothing would have been seen as an anomaly. I can think of good reasons to both wear and not wear one. I suspect that wearing one causes debility of the muscle and skeletal structure that would support breasts, especially in larger women. Before the bra came along, women did find other ways to create support. My guess is that DIY slings and binding (not to contemporary horror standards of course) were a common solution in pre-colonization/industrial days.

    Probably the one thing I loved the most about MichFest was that I could go topless whenever I pleased. (Thanks again Handmaidens.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did they factor in different breast sizes? Estrogen makes breasts bigger and is a risk factor for breast cancer, so it is possible that women with larger breasts simply are more likels to wear bras 24 hours AND develop breast cancer.

      The lack of movement won’t be good for the lymphatic system in any case, but some of the effect might be due to large breasted women feeling more comfortable with a bra on.


  12. This is great! I’m going to look for that book. Your “corset shaming” dialogue is hilarious.😆

    You can get heavy support bras without underwires. Check out Wonderbra style 2620. Or any of the wonder bras with the green package. No wire firm support. Underwires give me the flaming creeps.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What I do not understand why women do not wear both a bra and a vintage girdle daily. There are definite health benefits to be girdled and in a bra. We as humans stand erect, standing erect along with gravity and time have a very negative effect on our internal organs. Wearing a bra along with a girdle similar to Rago 6210 everyday will for sure counteract the negative effects of not being in a bra and girdle. A decent vintage girdles gives your internal organs needed control and support. What you experience is dramatic increase in energy and confidence. Your posture is 100 percent improved, you clothes fit better, and you really do feel great.

    I did some research studies in to girdles and if yo follow what I came up with you will find over a short period to time you will love being in a vintage girdle.

    Come and chat also about your girdle and corset experience:


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