Don’t Hate Me, Hate You!

14 Jul

It always amazes me when I mention to a novice feminist how the media (mostly advertising) wants women to hate themselves and they have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.  I just want to ask them.

Do you live in fear of your own nipples?

Foamy, modern, molded bras have taken over more than their share of the bra market. They seem to insist that if we decline silicone breasts, we should at least have the courtesy to hide our actual breasts under smooth, springy, vaguely breast-like shells.

It started about a decade ago. The phrase “t-shirt bra” crept into my brain by osmosis. “What are those?” I asked, shopping with a friend.

“Oh I love them!” she said. “You wear them under t-shirts.”

I touched the ones stacked on a table. They were… different than other bras. A space-agey substance. My friend stuck out her chest. “I’m wearing one now. You can’t see anything, right?”

“I can see a line, where the foam is,” I said.

“No, but I mean you can’t see anything.” Eventually I understood she was talking about her nipples.

I had never thought much about my nipples when choosing bras, preoccupied already with my bra size and why strapless bras were always so mean to me. I tried one on and sure enough, it formed a ridge. I’m a D cup; I don’t want even an extra millimeter or two of padding.

“Not padded!” every bra saleswoman insists when I ask for bras with no padding. “It’s just lightly lined!” Last year I went to Victoria’s Secret, a place I never shop, because I had a bra emergency and needed a racerback bra for a party dress that night. I repeated the lie to myself — lightly lined — but when I saw photos from that evening I was horrified to find that I had been quite visibly bustier than usual.

They continue to encroach, creeping in under new names all the time: Contour Bras for a “sculpted silhouette”; Foam-Lined Bras, defined on the Bare Necessities as the go-to choice for “protection against nipple show through”; Seamless Bras “virtually invisible!” (Like your nipples.) T-shirt Bras for an “ultra-smooth look” (you know by now what that means). Microfiber Bras! They’re all the same bras, really. OneHanesPlace adds Laminated Bras, which they admit are “a lot like Molded-Cup Bras,” which “mimic your body’s contours because the fabric is molded on a cone-shaped form. So, they fit like a second skin… and work with your shape, not against it.”

I’m irritated with the implication that some part of my own form is cone-shaped. And stop telling me that your bras mold to my shape like that’s a bonus — I don’t want to morph myself into the shape of the bra. I rely on bras to keep things generally lifted and… organized, not to give me someone else’s chest entirely. I don’t begrudge anyone else’s right to enhance any body part they wish (I myself may or may not have just applied controversial eyelash medication), but I find it hard to believe that women with multiple D cups and beyond are looking for “light lining.”

And these bras are not sexy, are they? You know how you’re (possibly, occasionally) willing to wear bathing suits in public, but not bras? It’s not really because bathing suits cover more. They’re just made of more opaque, less-revealing fabirc. I feel even less naked in these foamy t-shirt bras. They’re more swimsuity than swimsuits.

So I’m taking a survey:

-Do you really love these bras?

-Am I the only one left who prefers bras made of stretch lace, silk, cotton, thread, what-have-you?

-Do you live in fear of your own nipples?

-Are you beginning to suspect that these bras are forced upon us for nefarious reasons I’ve yet to define, as part of a global conspiracy?

-Also, oh my god: what if a few years from now, all underwear is padded for butt enhancement? I’ll become the Andy Rooney of lingerie, and no one wants that.

Bonnie Downing

I remember in high school people teasing me “Are you cold!?”   You know, high school, back when people were so afraid of each others new bodies.  Except it never really stopped.  I like my bras made of pretty lacy things and it’s amazing how people can be surprised I’m cold when I have my frozen toes under their butts.

Yes, I have nipples.  So do you.  Get over it.  I’m really busy hiding the fact that I have hair on my legs and under my armpits.  My boobs cause me enough grief every day, it’s more important to me that they be comfortable than that you should be satisfied with their perfect uniboob-ish roundness.

2 Responses to “Don’t Hate Me, Hate You!”

  1. Webmonarch July 14, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Lovely post, as always. Dieting, the clothes we are asked to wear, the language which teaches us to be passive: it’s all telling women to be smaller. On one of our plastic dinner plates at home my Mom wrote a quote from Roseanne Barr:

    Women should try to increase their size rather than decrease it, because I believe the bigger we are, the more space we’ll take up, and the more we’ll have to be reckoned with.

    I think we must be reckoned with at any size, but I try to remember where the feelings of being too big come from (spoiler: it’s not a place of mantatee-like love and support) whenever I think about changing my body.

    Also, extra points for the Guerrilla Girls post.

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