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A recent Dear Prudie at The Slate tackled the all important fashion dilemma that keeps me up at night – how to make my breasts appear more Barbie like. And not pointy impossible triple D rocket shaped Barbie breasts, but disturbingly smooth in a neutered way because, in case you’ve never noticed, Barbie doesn’t have nipples.
She doesn’t have a vaginal area either but that’s less horrific than her counterpart Ken’s lack of any genitalia.
Ken, by the way? Nipple-less too.
But getting back to Prudie’s dear reader, the woman had just discovered that the outline of her nipples might be considered a fashion don’t in the workplace. What should she do? Provided that it really was a no-no and that something short of a burqa was involved.
Prudie’s advice? Well, a quiet polling of her female co-workers was all over the map, so she did the most Solomon like thing she could, though I doubt really that his majesty objected to a bit of nippage in his harem,
So I will anoint myself the nipple arbiter and say, particularly at the office, keep your nipples under wraps. This does not mean wearing a Kevlar bra; it means finding one with enough lining or tensile strength to make sure that if you’re cold, or if you’re thinking about Mark Ruffalo, the rest of the office won’t know.
I shared this with Rob, who needlessly pointed out that I am in violation of nipple etiquette every day of my life due to my near RainMan inability to tolerate underwear.
Indeed, I have only recently discovered the almost perfect sports bra, which falls short on the all important strap issue but is so sheerly awesome that I barely know it’s on.
Okay, I know it’s on, but it doesn’t threaten to break ribs or realign my spine.
Bras have been my bane since I sprouted boobs – which have always had nipples on top just like a Sundae has whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. There is something slightly off about the way women are expected to disguise the fact that, like men, we have nipples.
Men do not wear padded undershirts. Their nippage is not considered provocative – by them anyway. Really, men are silly creatures. Oblivious to the fact, it seems, that women ogle them as much – probably more – than they ogle us. We are just better at it.
But we are not kind. Know that and live in a bit of fear, gentlemen.
Getting back to nippage though. Is it really that big of a deal if mine show?
When I was forced from my comfy undershirts to the utterly useless for comfort or warmth training bra (an interesting concept but one that makes sense because little girls must train for the chest bondage to come), nipples were not camouflaged as much as they were just smashed flat.
Padded bras and then padded with underwire followed. And they were both of equal awfulness. What is the point of keeping just the breast area warm?
The padding didn’t help with straps that rubbed or underwire that dug into the cartilage, and it was damp by the end of the day.
As a young adult, I found sheer bras that didn’t really help with shape because I am small – cup wise – and, of course, promoted nipple outline.
Shoulder issues, and retirement from teaching, eventually freed me from bras altogether, but I consider my most pressing breast issue to be not falling out when I teach a yoga class.
To that end, I generally wear a wrap sweater of some type though to practice, or if I am teaching a class where I have to do a lot of modeling poses, I man up and don a sports bra.
Still, sports bras mean smashed nipples not invisible ones.
At issue is, once again, the tender male brain. Men, apparently, have the self-control of toddlers and can’t rescue themselves from their sexual impulses. This explains our second class status and the need of religions to swaddle and enslave us. Men can’t rule the world after all when their kryptonite wanders free, equal and showing off nipple.
We could wish that Prudie had taken a more Moses like stand, “Let our nipples show! So let it be written; so let it be done.” But productivity in the office place is paramount. Work suffers when the staff spends more time pondering the reasons behind nippage (is the a/c set too low or is she thinking about doing me?) than attending to their jobs.
Alas, discretion and coverage are the better part of valor for the working woman.
I remain defiantly bra-free and not particularly repentant. After all, I stood on God’s altar this last weekend as witness to my mother-in-law’s wedding completely nude under my lovely formal wear. Comfort above all should be etched in my coat of arms somewhere, methinks.