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Retro Sex: Emancipate Your Chest
Free Range Boobs
Writer: Ghia Vitale
Illustrator: Samantha Dade
I recently learned that I’ve been living a lie. According to a 15-year-long study, bras make your boobs saggier. I think I can safely say that I’d struggle not to trust the opinion of any scientist who devotes 15 years of their time to studying the secret of breast-sagging. France, the lovely country that brought us fishnets, is now responsible for helping breasts all over the world cope with the oppression of gravity.
I’m experiencing intense cognitive dissonance because, once again, society is wrong. How surprising. That must be why I’m grappling with the the point of bras, besides maybe for aesthetic effect. But I’ve always wondered who looked at their boobs and thought, “Man, I gotta put these in a cage.” Apparently, free range boobs don't suffer gravity's wrath to the extent that caged ones do.
The modern bra derives from the ever-fashionable corset, but the bra goes much further back into history. Even women in ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece wore garments to keep their breasts in place. Heck, a 600 year-old bra was unearthed from an Austrian castle, complete with lace trimmings. They even found matching panties to boot!
The modern bra has a more nuanced history. Vogue was the first to coin the term “brassiere” in 1907 in order to give the garment the illusion of French flair. Four years later, the Oxford Dictionary officialized the word.
In 1913, a New York socialite named Mary Phelps Jacob patented the “backless brassiere” that formed the “flattened, ‘monobosom’ silhouette” considered ideal at the time. She created the first modern bra out of a pink ribbon and two handkerchiefs. You heard it, folks: bras were originally made to flatten your breasts, not make them look bigger! It’s hard to believe in the era of padded bras.
The corset decreased in popularity when American women joined the workforce and found that they couldn’t perform their jobs wearing such a restraining device. Look on the bright side: We're saving ourselves 28,000 tons of metal every year by no longer manufacturing corsets en masse! (Not that I’m against corsets. Never!)
Western culture has been described by anthropologists as having a breast fetish. In many other cultures, breasts aren’t considered sexually attractive as much as they are utilitarian. Go an American store's magazine section and you’ll see boobies everywhere, but God forbid that a woman breastfeed in public without appearing obscene.
According to the originally mentioned study, young women can avoid the "sagging" impact caused bras simply by abstaining from them. Need to stay warm this winter? You can always burn your old bras. Because, apart from when you're exercising, you don't need them. So fight the power. Emancipate your chest.
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