Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We Should've Just Kept Burning 'em...

I mentioned in my previous post that I have a hard time understanding why today’s women are so eager to sexually objectify themselves. Actually, this seminal fact is what drove me to write the post to begin with. And the idea was put into my head by a trip to a department store to buy a bra.

Back in the Stone Age, I was a petite, skinny adolescent. I didn’t develop what could be called “breasts” until I was in high school. Even so, in seventh grade, I began wearing a size 28AA “training bra.” You remember those—the ones that looked just like a miniature grown-up bra but had soft, stretchy tricot cups. I wore the bra not because I actually needed to, but because by that age, I would be mortally embarrassed not to wear one. By the time I was a senior in high school, I probably would have actually grown into that bra.

Luckily, the 70’s trend toward braless fashions played right into my body type, and spared me further embarrassment in the locker room. It was fortunate I didn’t need a bra, because I could never find one that fit me. I remained a AA cup size throughout my twenties. Every trip to the mall to buy a bra ended in utter frustration. There was never a bra on the rack that did not hang on my skinny chest like a day-old helium balloon.

After the stretchy almost-braless look of the late seventies faded, sports bras became my best friends. Thank god for Olivia Newton-John and Jane Fonda. For the next thirty years, it was a struggle to keep myself covered in socially acceptable lingerie. The off-the-rack world never accepted my proportions.

Along about five years ago, I discovered that gravity and the extra pounds that come with age had presented me with a mixed blessing: I could now wear a B cup. Praise the Lord and pass the Playtex! For the first time in my life, I would be able to walk into a store and grab an almost feminine-looking bra in my size right off the rack! And I could…for about three and a half years.

Until society, the retail gods, or whoever, decided that no American woman worth dressing wore smaller than a C cup. The breasts of today’s fashionable female will be foamed, molded, under-wired and push-upped into the glorious ripe-melon globes demanded by our voyeuristic and sex-obsessed media. I searched the lingerie racks in three department stores in one day, and I found exactly one bra in my size.

It made me angry, and it gave me a bit of insight into why the times are so ripe for the unabashed stripping away of women’s rights. If we dress as sex objects, why shouldn’t society see us that way? Where do we expect this hyper-sexual look to take us? To the boardroom or the bedroom? Is it any wonder that right wing groups have chosen NOW to begin hammering away at our rights? Take a look at the way we dress. We have capitulated. We don’t want to be strong and equal anymore. We want to be soft and sexual.

Not only that, but we want our daughters to be soft and sexual from an appallingly early age.

My path toward the escalator after my disappointingly enlightening bra shopping excursion took me through girls’ clothing. Prominently displayed front and center of the department was a rack of bras. Remember those “training bras” with the tricot cups that I wore until I was fourteen? Not a one of those dinosaurs was in evidence. The rack was covered with little bitty padded push-up bras. With under-wires. Some of these were so tiny that, despite being labeled an almost acceptable “30AA” (the size I wore when I was in high school) it was obvious they were meant to be worn by little girls as young as six or seven years old. Who else is going to wear “Hello Kitty” underwear?

If there is a word for this fashion trend that is not “disgusting,” “depraved,” or “abusive,” I certainly couldn’t come up with it. Honestly. What are we thinking when we dress our little girls this way? What kind of feelings do we expect them to have? Or to inspire? Equality and empowerment? I think not.

So, sisters... If you want a better understanding of why our rights are ripe for the taking, just go to the mall. You will see women practically lining up to just...hand them back.

Cross-posted at "Women On..."

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