I need a new bra. Yet, part of me revolts. Why should I wear a bra when I never wear one at home? And why support the multi-billion-dollar industry of brassieres?
During the last century the reason for wearing a bra has changed. It’s more about fashion than functionality.
Still, I love to feel that sensual femininity and a bra can truly be a magic garment with the ability to enhance that feeling. Maybe I should only wear really gorgeous bras? Or, should I go for something simple? The inner chatter continues…
I clearly remember getting my first bra. It was a big moment. There are still vivid images in my mind of the store, how the bra looked and how I felt when wearing it. I had really longed for it, since I had still been flat when my friends got boobs.
This tiny little garment seemed to mark my transition into womanhood.
As I ponder the importance of this breast shaper, my thoughts wander. What IS sexy and feminine? Is what we call sexy just a cultural fling that we are unconsciously influenced by? And what’s the difference between sensuality and sexiness? I decide to take a quick look back in time, to get some clues…
In ancient Egypt, women were generally bare breasted. Wearing a specialized garment to restrain a woman's breasts may date back to ancient Greece. Wall paintings in Crete, the centre of the Minoan civilization, show something similar to a bra on a woman performing athletics. Similar depictions have been found in ruins from 4th Century Sicily.
The history of the bra is intertwined with the history of women’s status, including the changing views of the body.
From the 16th century wealthier women started wearing corsets, which pushed the breasts upwards. (This was considered sexy at that time.) But a corset also made it impossible to work, so simpler, more functional garments were worn by most working women. Support for the breasts was often provided by a simple tie under the breast line of the bodice.
At the end of the 19th century, the corset was split into a girdle (a restraining device for the lower torso) and a garment for the upper body that was suspended from the shoulder. The modern bra was born!
Women have used a variety of garments to cover, restrain, or modify the display and shape of their breasts.
Looking back with contemporary eyes, garments like corsets and girdles seem as obsolete as uncomfortable. They are also an obvious expression of how the feminine has been restrained and modified.
In the late 1960s some of the symbols of femininity, like the bra, became targets of feminist activism. Typified as patriarchal, they were said to reduce women to sex objects. Some women disavowed and burned bras publicly in an act of female liberation.
The evolution of the bra reflects the constantly changing idea of what an 'ideal' woman should look like—flat, round, pointy, conical, or even 'natural'.
Women and feminists seem to increasingly question the bra. Fashion writers continue to suggest alternatives to bras or ways of dressing without it, emphasizing that wearing one is a matter of choice and not a requirement. It is also commonplace to see models and other celebrities who do not wear bras in public. Reports from health professionals state that the bra actually leads to sagging boobs and decrease in circulation.
How would we treat our boobs if we honored a healthy and genuine femininity? Would the bra become obsolete and disappear, like the corset, the girdle, garter belts and nylon stockings?
I will listen to my inner revolutionary. Why hide my breasts and shape them according to fashion ideals? And I don’t really need a bra. I will make my own version to use for very wild dancing.