In our long-running, yet inexplicably timed, series, we’ve discussed women’s clothing and the difficulties with them. That is to say: women’s clothes are the goddamn worst. There will come a day when I write an entire post that’s just ‘O Pockets, Where Art Thou?’, but today is not that day. Today we’re talking about bras. Bras, or as they’re scientifically known, “Boob Jail,” are the worst. The worst things in the world. They’re the worst because they manage to combine all of the physical and emotional garbage we’ve manifested into women’s clothing in one very small, mostly unneeded package. Let’s dive in, shall we?
1) The Physical
So a lot of this started with Linda Holmes’ tweet on what people believe bras might cost.
I'm actually curious: If you're a person who's never purchased bras for yourself or others, what do you think a midrange bra costs? (Without Googling or price checking.) https://t.co/Xr1wx9d7v5— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) October 11, 2019
And some poor souls guess that they probably run around $15, which isn’t all by itself a terrible guess. I, in fact, refuse to buy anything other than Target bras for $15.99. Of course, I buy them twenty times a year because I have to wear one every day, and they, being only $15, tend to wear out quickly. So why do I buy so many cheap bras instead of one more expensive bra? Because they’re the only ones I’ve found that don’t mash my boobs into weird angles while also being passably comfortable. I pay roughly $300 a year to make myself less comfortable. On the daily, I get up and send my boobs, two of my best friends, to jail for at least ten hours. I do this on purpose.
By the way, I have it very, very easy. Being a standardly-abled and standardly sized, cis woman, I’m able to go to basically any store that sells bras and find something that will mostly work. If you’re above a D-cup, or need any slight modifications to a standard boob torturer, good luck. Also, have I mentioned that they’re really uncomfortable? I feel like I can’t stress this enough. They don’t feel good. At the very least, if you want to become more comfortable, you’d never think, “Hey, I should put that bra on.” You take them off when you want to become more comfortable. Because their whole thing is to hold in your meat bags lest the fact that we’re mammals bring civilization to a screeching halt.
I mean, I should say, their whole thing is holding in your meat bags in a way that still makes them look great and not like they’re being strapped down. So you end up with additions to bras that make them less comfortable to wear, but reduce the effects of strapping them down. Things like underwire and padding and effing water bras (which popped on me twice during college). You have to keep in mind that while most of your bras will be uncomfortable things you wear under your clothes so that people get a good idea, but not too good of an idea, of what your boobs look like, bras also need to be ready to be shown off for sexy times at a moment’s notice. So you get things like bralettes, which don’t even bother serving the purpose of bras, but are still a thing fashion tells us to wear? So long as you’re an A-cup, because it’s doing nothing for you if you’re bigger than that (although if you’re an A-cup, I say go bra-less because you owe it to the rest of us). Here I’ll address straight men specifically: Those lacey bras, the sexy ones that we’ve all been taught to find sexy? They should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Just to get wildly and overly graphic here, do you know what it feels like to have scratchy, uneven material rubbing against your nipples for any extended period of time? If a woman is wearing a fancy bra in front of you, and you don’t get it off her within four minutes, you’re committing a hate crime.
So again, given that bras are an expense (regardless of how much of one), and women sort of mostly hate wearing them, why do it?
2) The Emotional
I mentioned in our Slack earlier that a friend of mine in elementary school was teased for not wearing a bra. So she got one, and was teased for wearing a bra when she didn’t need one. So then she started stuffing her bra, and was made fun of for that. None of the women in that Slack were surprised in the slightest. Because bras, in addition to being either too functional to be sexy or too sexy to be functional, somehow represent everything most young people learn about their sexuality. Then women take that wildly overemphasized article of clothing, strap it literally to our chest every day, and go out into the world. So, yeah, there’s a wild level of emotional uncomfortableness that goes along with the physical.
This is maybe where I should cut some bras and bra wearers some slack. If you’ve found a great bra that you feel great about wearing and can’t wait to put on in the morning, good for you. You keep getting it day in, day out with your rocking boob holder. If you like having fancy bras that make you feel like your ladies are swaddled in angel dreams, you do you. This whole rant is not against women’s bodies or what women choose to do with them. This rant is about how earlier I said no one’s ever put on a bra to feel more comfortable when that’s absolutely untrue, because there have absolutely been times when I’ve put a bra on to feel more comfortable, and that’s when a family member was in the room. The very idea of being braless in a room with my family is giving me hives. Gross.
And that’s the great part about the mental gymnastics of wearing a bra. Their supposed intent is to make our boobs less conspicuous, and we accomplish this by having one article of clothing specifically dedicated to just dealing with them. You know that trick about telling someone not to think of an elephant? It’s kind of like that, but with something pressing against your skin. It’s all about the baggage that comes with being a woman in a sex-negative culture. Because if we don’t wear a bra, we’re overly sexualized and probably a whore. But if we wear something so baggy that you can’t tell that we’re wearing a bra, we’re unattractive. If we try to get away with just rocking a sports bra because they’re mostly comfortable and allow us to move up and down stairs without holding our chest, we’re not in touch with our own power as a sexual being. It’s the same line of garbage as most women’s clothing (be sexy but not too sexy, make sure you look good but don’t care too much, and no, we don’t have that in another style) only it touches your boobs all day and hurts.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go let my boobs out of boob jail and put on an oversized sweater as my foremothers before me did. God bless them and their stirrup pants.
Header Image Source: AMC