People for the Ethical Treatment of Mammaries (PET M)

Part III of this week’s superficial, yet fundamentally important stuff series features a breast-related topic.  [DISCLAIMERS:  Readers who are unduly titillated by breast-related discussions or by breast-related images, or even by the word, "titilated" probably shouldn't read any further. Also, none of the photos you will see are of me or of anyone I know.]

The other day, whilst commenting on the clothing post, Lesley said: The girls just need to be properly supported and displayed.  And, I thought, “why”? And, “who came up with this theory that breasts require ongoing support?”

Breasts are mostly fat with a little background muscle. If you put muscle in a sling it stops being muscular, right? So wouldn’t breasts be better off free, forcing the muscle to get stronger and stronger as gravity makes the fatty parts of the breast heavier and heavier?

Not so long ago, hardly any woman under the age of 35 wore a bra. Our sisters in the 60s made a big point of freeing us all from the damn things.

And what happens? A few decades down the road and the bra is back with a vengence; bigger, stiffer and more confining than ever.

Never in the history of womanhood have bras been more upholstered, more defeminizing, constricting or subjugating.  Where once we had simple cotton cups gently encasing our hoohahs, we now have molded, welded foam and metal contraptions that can stand alone without actual breasts in them.

We have underwires and sidewires and sometimes topwires. We have anywhere from .5 to 1.5 centimeters of foam wrapped in a couple of layers of mystery fibre. We have those hard bulgy things or sacks of fluid inside that push and squeeze the breasts up and together for maximum cleavageability.

Today’s super-bras effectively make your breasts look like anything but actual breasts.

 What the hell?

To say these extreme brassieres are uncomfortable is a gross understatement. I don’t think breasts are meant to be contorted or caged this way. They can’t breathe. They can’t move. (Not even a little bit). And they get really, really sweaty on even a mildly warm day.

And how do you store these sturdy titty traps? You can’t fold them. Each one takes up a whole drawer. Are you supposed to put them on hangers in your closet? Display them on your wall? Just keep them on —  always?

And you can’t wash them. They’re so thick they never dry. And the layers and layers of foam get all distorted and lumpy.  And the wires rust and start creaking. It gets pretty ugly, let me tell you.

So, do you: throw them out when they get smelly;  take them to the dry-cleaners; have a valet steam them clean once a day? What?

And, of course all this ta-ta technology doesn’t come cheap, does it? They’re roaming the three-figure neighbourhoods these days.

Why are we putting up with this abuse? Okay, you don’t want them bouncing around too much, but surely that can be accomplished without expensive, industrial strength harnessing.

Boobies are too pretty to be imprisoned and hidden away.

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42 responses to “People for the Ethical Treatment of Mammaries (PET M)

  1. Since I’ve lost all my weight…my boobs should not go anywhere without harnessing. Let me tell you.

    I have an award over at my sight if you’re interested. :)

  2. Well, I for one, would trip on mine if I wasn’t wearing a bra! HA. Just kidding. Kinda.

    I get my over the shoulder bolder holders from Victoria’s Secret. They’re not too pricey, but actually really comfortable for these girls. (And, I get the kind that has no added padding or gel or what-have-you.)

    Not that you, or anyone else for that matter, needs to know this, but when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, I was astonished at how much bigger they got. Holy cow. (Quite literally, I’m afraid.) It was UDDERLY ridiculous. HA. I didn’t even know sizing went to that level.

    Thankfully, they went down to their normal state when I weaned Claire…I breastfed for just over a year, and I still remember the day I fit back into my regular bra. That was a good day. ;)

  3. Grandy – Nonsense — let ‘em swing free, baby!! And thanks for the KA … I shall endevour to live up to the fulsome praise and pass on the love.

    CP – Ah yes, I remember the udders. I didn’t like having a heavin’ rack. And those “nursing bras” – what’s up with them? I gave up on those from the get-go. Anyhow, I’m glad you’re able to find some OTSBH’s that aren’t too dehumanizing. Still don’t you feel better when it’s off at night?

    Dr. M – Right on, bro!

    Geewits – I’m with you, woman. First thing that comes off when I walk in the door at night.

  4. i remember getting PROPERLY fitted for a bra by someone who does that for a living and wow, what a difference. now it doesn’t even feel like i’m wearing one.
    i have to admit, i don’t like to be big boobied, and sometimes i’ll strap them down with a tight bandeau – some clothes just hang better without the distraction of breasts.

  5. I’m pretty much boobless, so it’s not really an issue. Though I do mostly wear one at work with lightweight tops…

    Otherwise the girls are free.

  6. Um. I can’t even shop for a bra at a regular store. Victoria’s Secret? Forget it. If you’ve got a cup size above D, getting properly fitted by someone is a must. I don’t like having industrial-strength harnessing but if the fit is good and the bra is well-made you don’t really notice. And it beats the back pain, and other discomforts involved in letting ‘em go free. If you’ve got reasonable-sized mammaries, by all means, go braless. But I need the OTSBH or bad things happen.

  7. I have to agree with meanie…my back feels awesome when I’m wearing a properly fitted bra. But, I don’t ever strap mine down…I use them to the best of my advantage. It’s nice getting prompt attention…now…if clerks would only look into my eyes when they speak… ;)

  8. As someone who has had a breast reduction, and still heaves around a pair of D’s, I gotta say – I need support. It’s fine not to wear a bra if you’re just slothing around the house, and yes, it feels great to just take the sucker off when I get home after a day of work … but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable without one.

  9. I wear a bra to work because I like the look of a supported breast. I also don’t like to see jiggling breast every time someone takes a step. A bit distracting lol

    I’m in the smallish category and they’re still fairly perky so I can *sometimes* get out without wearing a bra, depending on the top of course. At night and on weekends, my girls are also free. I got fitted a few years ago so now know what works with my breast. I didn’t spend too much on them and they get washed regularly. They dry overnight too. No fuss in this household.

    Of course, I wouldn’t dream of going for a run without the support. Even with them being small, they need to stay in place if I am going to be bouncing up and down for an hour or more.

  10. I’m pretty small (AAA cup when not nursing) so I can definitely get by with just a soft cotton wire-free number, or even a snug undershirt. Even so, I think if I never wore a bra they’d hang down to my waist. I’ve seen many older women in National Geographic who have never worn a bra and have flat, triangle-shaped breasts that dangle there like pennants.

    I don’t want to be a National Geographic photo spread!

  11. It’s a subject where I can only comment as an admiring observer, but my favourite story last week was when the 100 or so women showed up at the offending H&M in Vancouver and all breast-fed their babies in concert. That was an awesome show of power. H&M were rightly humbled by the experience.

    Now, on to today’s version of the subject(s): I know my wife has had her share of trouble finding just the right support, and she has a tendency to change into wearing a plain cotton one – or none – once she’s home from work.
    However, I always understood – or thought I understood – that if you don’t wear some kind of support, it’s more likely gravity will alter your appearance sooner than you might expect. I could be completely wrong on that. Maybe it’s just a myth, or a story undergarment companies tell women to scare them into giving over their hard-earned money.

    …and I’d blame Madonna in the change in bra fashion, if I were you.

  12. Meanie – You poor thing! Really? You tie them down with a bandeau?

    Jazz – You and me both sister. Seems like we’re in the minority here, though.

    Zoom – I see the bloggin ennui has extended to comments as well.

    Miss Vicky – My sister-in-law used to be a professional bra-fitter until she moved on to bigger and better things, so I got a professional fitting or two and it never seemed to make much difference in comfort levels – where do you go for your amazing foundation garments?

    CP – Why, you little tart!

    Tania – What were all you people fed as children that you all grew such gigantic melons?

    UA – Oh ya, the sports bra is a must, no question. They’re actually not too uncomfortable, though they flatten you right out. I don’t mind seeing a bit of jiggling otherwise in the name of comfort.

    Lynn – I don’t think those NG women got that way by not wearing a bra. I think they’re shaped like that to begin with. I went to school with an unfortunate girl who was shaped just like that and she was only in her early 20s and wore a bra all the time. She said they just came out like that.

    JB – Where does your wife find plain cotton bras? Huh? I’d really like to know. ‘Cause I haven’t seen one of those in about 20 years. And I don’t actually understand the threat that boobs will droop if not in a bra. They will droop anyway with age, just like the rest of you. The less well developed your chest muscles are the more they’ll droop. The more fat you have there, the more they’ll droop. Personally, I don’t think it has anything to do with wearing or not wearing a bra. If someone can explain the reasoning behind the bra/no droop theory, I’d love to hear it.

    Kitty – Yes. I expect this is a particularly fascinating topic for you.

  13. Pet M – As in Pet ‘[th]em?

    Xup, I used to go bra-less all the time – even when I was nursing. Then I started working in an office, and I felt uncomfortable with everyone around me in bras (exept for the fellas).

    Recently, I have noticed that there is NF (nipple factor) happening in the office again. I think the trend/ fashion might be shifting. Although, it seems to be women our age who are dropping the big bras, and not the young women.

    I am planning a trip to the bra store soon… I want gentler, kinder, and littler bras!

  14. I go bra-less at home, and I even go out bra-less now in a top that looks good that way. I find a lot of tops are designed for nice perky breasts (read under the age of 25), and look really stupid bra-less because the girls hang below the boob line of the top. I am not large breasted, by any stretch of the imagination, so prefer to let the girls breathe, and it’s not the least bit uncomfortable. The only issue is that the Lion complains that he can’t get any work done when I am walking around bra-less. Apparently it’s way to distracting for the poor man *wink*

  15. hey XUP…
    I was just thinking… what are the odds that my ‘Happy Hump Day’ post this morning was none other than Dolly Parton, on the same day you are all Mammary-aware?!

    Coincidence?

  16. If you’re looking for the “medical term” relevant to this discussion, it’s “Cooper’s Droop,” and Dr. Google has a ton of info. There is an article from Time Magazine toward the top of the list.

    As silly as it sounds, my Mom and Grandma actually warned me when I was younger about Cooper’s Droop, and neither of them worked for nor held any stock in any undergarment industries. ;)

  17. Woodsy- YES! I wondered why no one commented on that. I don’t think I even owned a bra until I started working for the government. I haven’t seen the same nipple shift you have, but my fingers are crossed. Young women today are so strange with all their waxing and shaving and odd dichotomy between exposing themselves and hiding/negating themselves.

    Cedarflame – I hear the rally cry!! (can you be a supporter while at the same time advocating non-support?)

    UP – The trick is to walk around completely topless for a while and then when you slip a shirt on he won’t even notice you’re braless.

    Kitty – I KNOW! It’s a very peculiar coincidence. I wonder how many other bloggers are featuring boobies today.

  18. Hey, Kitty! Are all gay guys boob men? I work with two gay guys who almost go straight when they see a particularly attractive pair, or even the mention of boobies.

  19. I lived happily for the first 37 years of my life quite bra-less; I found them extremely uncomfortable and frankly not necessary. I’m not tiny, but the boys are firm and didn’t go anywhere they weren’t supposed to. Then on a whim I bought a bra from Victoria’s Secret, and now I have them in every colour and wear them daily. Mine do have pads and under-wires, so they give me a more flattering bosom, but they are comfortable, and I really like the lift they give me… and my husband thinks it’s sexy. Win-win.

  20. Okay –
    1. Cooper’s Droop. I think I have that.

    2. My blog actually features BUBBLES today.
    Darn. So close, yet…

    3. Warner’s brand Elements of Bliss are her current favourite. She says it’s the closest thing to happiness
    she’s found. No underwire, which is something she can’t wear.
    Style #2086 is a non-underwire sports bra – which is 50% cotton. The other, though, which she says is even more comfortable is Style #2003, which is actually about 80% nylon. To quote her, “It feels like I’m barely even wearing one, it’s so comfortable.” I’m just happy she was liberal enough to let me share this.

  21. This post wins for “Best Categories.” HEEHEE! It has also prompted the most intelligent discussion about boobies on the web today!

    “Gently encasing our hoohahs….” I read this blog for brilliant lines like this one. You never disappoint. ;-)

    I just know as my own personal preference, I prefer the girls be properly supported and displayed. I’m a teeny girl with big huge boobs (real) and I am just uncomfortable when they’re not supported! So when I’m uncomfortable I don’t feel sexy.

    I would LOVVVVE if I could hang them free but real 32D’s just aren’t their prettiest like that (well, in clothes I mean). It just makes things fit weird.

    The bra below is my favorite. It gives support but DOESN’T feel industrial strength and is also fairly affordable:

    http://www.fredericks.com/promo/extremeCleavage042006.asp

  22. i would like to say i go out without one but i just cant. they are heavy and floppy and if ihave to run for the bus one might just jump up and give me a fat lip.

    it does come off when i walk in the door.. usually with anything else i am wearing.. bit of a nudist i am.

    i have had luck at Zellers lately for good bras that fit well.

  23. Bob – Gadzooks, now there’s something you might want to explore further on your blog!

    UP – Windows, schmindows

    Susan – I’m impressed that you’ve adapted to the bra culture so easily after all those years of freedom. And also interested that you call them “the boys”.

    JB – Thank you wife for me, profusely. And, I’m very sorry about your CD –maybe you should see if Warner’s makes a Mansierre.

    Lesley – Well, after that I think we have to get married. Extreme cleavage, eh? I wonder if the Panther and Lion will be rushing to that website???

    Jobthingy – I’ve actually never thought long and hard about how difficult it must be to carry around enormous breasts. Oh I’ve heard plenty of women complain about the backaches and the stretch marks and the shoulder pain and the running issues — not to mention the male eye-popping problems. I’ve never heard one say though that they’d trade in all those problems for small boobs. I don’t get that because I hated having even a moderately larger rack post-pregnancy. On the other hand, it’s great that we’re all happy with the bodies we have.

  24. CP – Thanks for the references for Cooper’s Droop, by the way. I wonder who poor “Cooper” was that she had a saggy boob syndrome named after her? I also wonder why they don’t make support garments for other body parts that are norotious for getting really droopy with age — the butt (especially large butts) and the cohones? Man, some old guys are carrying theirs below the knee. That can’t be comfortable, can it?

  25. And XUP, ya gotta read the whole article:

    “Once lengthened by tension, these fibrous connections (Cooper’s suspensory ligaments*) do not resume youthful dimensions, and despite hopeful legend,
    no amount of exercise will restore pristine mammary profile.”
    There is no actual danger in bra-lessness, but unfortunately, the only possible worthwhile insurance against eventual droop, especially in the large-breasted,
    is the support of a “satisfactory brassiere.”

    (* After Sir Astley Cooper, a 19th century British anatomist.)

    There you go. The ‘suspensory ligaments’ of a woman’s breasts named after a guy. Man-boobs, indeed.

  26. NGB, I can’t say I’m particularly a breast man, but I can appreciate a good pair… as a matter of fact a few years back in a call center I worked in, the girls used to make me judge their twins… constantly! I swear, it was a straight boys wet dream come true. They’d lift their tops AND bras for me and as if that were not enough they’d often ask me to rate their ‘feel’ So I did what I was asked – being the good gay boy that I am (I can be bad if required, but that’s neither here nor there) and I can say there was some SPECTACULAR sets in that office. I’m not sure if it’s genetic, but it seemed it was always the greek girls that were most bountiful and firm…

    In all honesty, I don’t know how it all got started and I swear I NEVER encouraged it, but at a certain point of having them thrust in your face you just kinda go with the flow…

    The call center was actually an HR Managers worst nightmare… there was more inappropriate behaviour there in a day than all the activities of all the office Christmas parties in all the offices in all the world, since the birth of the baby Jesus…

    …good times, good times.

  27. JB – 1) that’s either too much information or not enough; 2) I still say they’ll droop with or without the brassiere. Maybe we could do a survey. I’ll put you in charge.

    Kitty – That’s just insane. I have no other comment. Except that I dare you to follow up with these Greek girls when they’re in their 50s and 60s and see where their bounties are.

  28. You have no idea XUP!

    That was 12 years ago, but I’m still in ‘contact’ with them… and I can attest that the two greek girls in question still have phenominally perky and firm front bumpers… They are of course only 32 and 34 at the moment, so we’ll check back in, in another 20 and then 30 years.

  29. XUP – Brachic in Westboro is my fitter of choice. Specializes in…um…. larger sizes. Many folks recommend Marianne’s at Westgate but it seems a little geriatric to me. Brachic sold me the first sports bra I’ve had that provided enough support for running without the uniboob effect: the Shock Absorber. Highly recommended.

  30. OMG ! I can’t believe I’m the only male who commented here thus far! OK, let’s be honest here. I don’t wear a bra but, I can imagine the feel of being strapped in and how annoying that can get. My personal preference? Let them be free! You can pass the pencil test? Who cares!? Unless they are way too big and cause you pain, save yourselves the trouble. Not sure if I’m crossing the line here but I don’t care if they are perky or droopy; they always get my full attention. They are proof that there is a God! And, that he was male!

  31. I’m late to this party, all I can say is that whether a cutie has a AAA cup or a ZZZ-cup, is going commando or wearing something with whalebone and hydraulics, it is sexy as hell when you women talk about your breasts.

  32. Urbane, there’s more to it than that. When you’re a DD or larger, if the girls aren’t supported, then they pull down and hurt. They will also tend to lay against the chest wall and create a horrible, painful rash and will pull on your back and neck. Sleeping on your stomach is impossible. Jogging or any kind of sport is painful (imagine bowling ball size testies here and you will begin to understand). I’m a DD, and as soon as I can save up enough cash, these babies are being donated to science.

  33. JB: “However, I always understood – or thought I understood – that if you don’t wear some kind of support, it’s more likely gravity will alter your appearance sooner than you might expect. I could be completely wrong on that. Maybe it’s just a myth, or a story undergarment companies tell women to scare them into giving over their hard-earned money.”
    Bra-wearing, the more supportive the faster, accelerates the sagging that comes with age. The only time a bra reduces sagging is while it’s worn. So wearing a bra or other support garment should be the minimum of support and rigidity that avoids pain. And go without a bra at home in private if you can, or wear the least supportive or restraining that you can without pain.
    Breasts are designed to move, but like other parts of the body they can be overstressed. We wear shoes to protect our feet from injury. People who do not wear shoes develop thick calluses on the soles of their feet, and still are occasionally injured. Some people have foot problems that will not fix themselves, so wear arch, etc., supporting shoes or insoles.
    We wear clothes for protection from cold, heat, sun, thorns, insects, etc. though some groups wear little clothing. They suffer injuries from insect bites, sunburn, thorns, cold.
    So wearing appropriate (to the individual) breast support can be beneficial overall.
    Breasts sag for several interrelated reasons: Heredity, size, age, maturity (breasts of a woman who has given birth are softer than those of a woman who has not been pregnant), overweight that has stretched the skin (you can see the stretch marks).