Friday, October 28, 2011
The Trends and Politics of Bra Shape
So, bra shapes have clearly changed significantly over the past 60 years. No argument there. In the famous "I dreamed . . ." Maidenform ad campaign, you see the bullet shape that the 50s were known for.
Fast forward to 2011. The "t-shirt bra"--a molded seamless bra resembling two basketballs cut in half--rules.
The interesting thing is that each era seems to think that they've created a "natural" or "feminine" shape, when in fact both are quite manufactured. Just as body shapes go in and out of fashion, breast shape does too. And--it seems to me--the trend is influenced by the pornography of the day. Women of the 50s tried to emulate the pin-up girls that their men so adored. And we now live in the "Girls Next Door" era of grapefruit-shaped implants. Hence these crazy push-up bras with two-inch thick layers of molded foam.
I recently discovered the amazing Bali Flower bra (seamed but not overtly bullet-y), which has been in production for many years. It's listed on a lingerie site on a special "conical bras" page:
States the copy: "Whether it's nostalgia, the fashion runaways or the TV series Mad Men, those bullet-shaped bras are baaaaa-ck. We're by no means suggesting that this is the look of the modern woman, but why not enjoy a little dreamy escapism just for fun?"
It's interesting that this look is so on the fringes of "the look of the modern woman" that a site has to suggest that these are bras only worn for "escapism", like a Halloween costume or something. No, the modern woman wears what Oprah and porn has decreed we will wear: the t-shirt bra. Which is not costumey at all! No siree! It's just two lumps of foam strapped to your chest!
Anyway, I could probably write a book on this subject (we haven't even discussed the "no-bra" bra of the 60s!), but to boil this down to a blog post: bra shape is incredibly trend-driven, and tied up in all sorts of gender and sexual politics. And now, with the prevalence of plastic surgery, breast shape itself is changeable and trend-driven.
Do you agree? Do you see one shape as more "natural" than the other? Is one woman more "liberated" than the other?