How important are your breasts? Is that even a legitimate question? Ask any bra manufacturer and they would like to send you on a one-way trip to some other not-so-important orbs, like Pluto or beyond. It is another matter, however, that even the leading bra manufacturers don't seem to care much about breasts, yours or mine. Like Charles Darwin, who was particularly puzzled by this sexually dimorphic trait- the enlarged breasts of women- most of us are too. Including those who claim to know better.
However, what stares us in the face in the glow-signs and cheeky magazine inserts, and cheekier lingerie store placards wants to prove otherwise. Let us explore this labyrinth of bras.
It is now general knowledge that the act of buying a bra is awkward, everywhere from the village haat to the Hunkemoller store in the biggest mall of the country. An uneasy woman trying to avoid eye contact with the seller during her frantic search for the desired upliftment can be easily found. Some of us may put up a brave front but there will always be that one woman embarrassed about her breasts. Not the right size, not the right shape, not the right bounce, or maybe not even the right complexion.
Some of us may put up a brave front but there will always be that one woman embarrassed about her breasts.
Battling her ghosts within, and prying and ‘weighing’ eyes outside, she embarks on a journey that is nothing less than the ones for the Holy Grail. A perfect bra that fits your breasts and your budget like a dream is the Holy Grail, in duplicate, for the woman of today.
Like the biblical prize, or the G spot, this perfect bra remains an elusive concept. Rarely would you find a woman sure of the existence of either a perfect bra or a perfect orgasm. Pity, since the modern bra is more than a century old and we are still struggling to perfect its form. We can congratulate ourselves for coming a long way from the bra dinosaurs like kanchukas and corsets but that should be no consolation. Research in this field seriously falls short of expectations. Whatever little is there also gets mired in controversies, half-truths and even politics. Remember this from a few years back where Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon of Besançon CHU, France decried bras? It opened a Pandora’s Box of scepticism.
As if the lingerie sections of Marks and Spencer or flagship outlets like La Senza are not enough to confuse women, there are these equivocating researches. A quick look around these stacks of the padded variety in varying degrees of thickness can make one wonder, whatever happened to the curvaceous Indian women? Or is this evolution? Probably not. There is actually a chance that women’s breasts are getting bigger than before. There seems to be some research in at least in the US and the UK in this regard.
Loveliest bras, to touch and behold, still remain for the breasts that ought to be there. One sales attendant once confided, “These (padded ones) are the fastest moving things.” Hail consumerism! In a sneaky fashion, women are encouraged to lose their curves making them reliant on these overpriced padded bras.
In a sneaky fashion, women are encouraged to lose their curves making them reliant on these overpriced padded bras.
The universe seems to be biased against women with bigger breasts despite their evolutionary significance. Curvaceous women are the ones at loss in these stores that keep merely one rack of black, white and “skin colour” abominations for them. Some colourful ones, hung at the back of the row as apologetic afterthoughts, are the quickest to go. Don’t forget those ugly minimisers, because you are not the right size!
Bra buying is also a lesson in mathematics. The figures on the inch-tape and those on the price tag are almost never in sync with each other. The fitting-room is a class room that teaches you- what fits your breasts beautifully will never fit your budget and vice versa.
We may condemn lack of research in the world of lingerie but then what is the point of all the information about the right bra if it happens to be unaffordable?
The average price of a bra at two of the favourite brands of the urban Indian women, La Senza and M&S, is Rs 2,000/-. A woman on an average needs at least four everyday use bras, two sports bras, 2-3 special utility bras (strapless, backless et al). Around 20,000 for ten pieces when you start building your little closet from the scratch. Now, the experts tell you to discard your bras every six months. That makes it 40,000 per annum. Sixty years of bra wearing will cost you 24,00,000/- without adjusting for inflation.
The case of the discarded bras is even more complex than the breasts they once covered. Despite all the DIY crafts aiming at recycling or repurposing of bras, I haven’t found a single woman who actually practises it. It is also difficult to donate bras and a mountain of bra waste is added to the planet biannually. Should this not call for a revolution in the bra industry? Where are the environmentalists when you need them? The companies ought to manufacture bras that fit well, look good, last long and are affordable. If we are still treating the bra as a luxury item, why write reams on the scientific virtues of wearing the correct bra and making it into a necessity?
More research, less jokes please.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are that of the author and not of WION)