Breast


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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.


 

Drinking and/or working.

Image by parislemon via Flickr

 

Do you recall the cutesy coy Breast Cancer Awareness meme that swept Facebook last October during the annual “save the boobies” month that the Pink People Awareness brigade foist on us year after year?

The idea was that only women (‘cuz we have 3D breasts is my understanding and men don’t) would know the meaning of the mysterious status updates that ran along the lines of “mine is polka-dotted and lacy” or “I have a sea-foam green one”.

Though the women who participated were referring to the colors of their bras, the updates were meant to titillate and confuse men. Because that’s what women do best, right and why God bothered to create us (as an afterthought, I might add) in the first place.

I didn’t participate for two reasons. The first is that I don’t wear a bra. I didn’t burn it or anything, and it’s got nothing to do with any of my feminist tendencies. I just don’t like them. The other reason is that it was stupid.

Why does breast cancer awareness have to be titillating (well aware of the pun – move along)? Or pink-tinged? Or based in lament about the loss of diseased flesh that happens to fit inside the totally male invention of the bra?

And while I am here, why are my breasts more important than my lungs or my ovaries or my colon?

I ranted a bit about it at the time. Was dismissed as an old lady feminist killjoy and moved on … to this year when I received this message:

Really? This is the path to female domination of the world? Facebook meme’s that are the social media equivalent of those grade school “girls’ only” clubs we once thought would secure us a little control in a boys’ only world?

Power and influence. Dare to dream.

Maybe someone will blog it for the Huff’po and it will become a trending topic in the Twitsphere. If that happens then Jon Stewart is sure to make snide comments about it in his opening and Fox news will toss it to those morons on their morning show, which means that the ladies on The View will have to cackle over it for a few minutes, pondering the social influence and reach of women today.

Because as we all know conquering web space is … exactly nothing.

Will it give us parity in Congress? Abolish the double standard? Free us from the tyranny of photo-shopped female images or frozen foreheads?

I think not. Though I could be wrong even as I doubt that highly.

The reason this type of schoolgirl nonsense isn’t power is best illustrated by the fact that men don’t similarly engage in fluffy social media attention-drawing antics – unless they are Ashton Kutcher.

Would men pass around a super double-secret FB message instructing each other to leave a cryptic status update?

Hey Guyfriends! We’re going to play a girls’ not allowed status update meme where we name our favorite place to ogle women (or men if you orient that way). Just update your status with something like: I only do it at the grocery store. And don’t add anything more.  It will drive those out of the loop (the loop being men and really, does anyone else truly need to be “in the loop”?) crazy. Most importantly – don’t tell. We’ll wait until the MSM picks up on this and then only our most important members of the brotherhood (not you Ashton Kutcher!) can stand spokesmen for us all.

This is a way to demonstrate what a force to be acknowledged even more than the force we are. So get that update active!

And then it would sweep the Internet until President Obama updated with “I only do it in The White House” and Glenn Beck – who only does it in the sanctity of his own married bed – outs the meme by wondering which intern Obama was referring to and then it’s a blue dress hunt circa 1997 all over again.

If women wanted to flex a rusty muscle, why don’t they simply stop shopping for a week? Or even a day.  Say the day after Thanksgiving. They could just stay home.

Or they could declare October to be a ladies’ holiday.  No work.  No parenting.   No transporting, laundry or sex*.  Every day we’d met up for coffee and head off to free yoga classes before having dinner out with friends and coming home to nestle in our snuggies and watch whatever reality horror is masquerading as television.

Maybe we should refuse to vote for male candidates. We will only vote for the woman on the ballot and if there isn’t one, we’ll write one in.

That’s power.

But instead, we’re going to “tease” men with not so vague sexual innuendo, give ourselves a collective pat (on the head) and call ourselves “clever”.

The women of Stepford couldn’t have been trained any better than we are.

*The sex strike thing is an old idea that dates back to a play from Ancient Greece called the Lysistrata. In it, women stage a martial bed boycott to try and force their husbands to give up on a war they have been waging. Though they initially stand together and nearly succeed, in the end, one of them breaks ranks and the rest soon follow and the men go back to being “men”. It’s interesting in that the men at first don’t take the women seriously and believe that they will give up their strike because – being women – they aren’t single-minded and focused enough and that they ultimately can’t put aside their individual wants for the good of the group – which proves to be true.