There are many types of relationships that people build and experience throughout their lives. Friends, family, pets, locations, pictures…and bras. Just as dogs are a man’s best friends, bras could be said to be a woman’s closest companion. And I don’t only mean that literally. Now I can’t speak for all women, but I feel confident saying that I love my bra. It’s going on 13 years, and since my first training bra to my newly fitted Vera Wang, my bra has given me a sense of security and sexiness throughout.
History has seen the many transformations of the bra. It is clear that its many changes are a result of not only increased diversity of materials and changes in fashion, but also because of the shift in how the female body is viewed and the power women have gained in society. The bra is the descendent of the corset, though images have been found as early as the 3rd century of women playing sports with bound breasts. The corset entered into society in the 17th century and continued, bindingly, up until World War I when the need for steel brought the end of the corset. Up until the 1930s, a rough version of the bra was circulated, but there was no sizing. Then in 1928 a couple, Mr. William and Mrs. Ida Rosenthal, invented the familiar system of bra measurement, which included the circumference of the waist along with a cup size. The National Geographic video clip below gives a concise history of the bra and how the Camp measurement of bra sizes was created. It’s quite an interesting little clip…I am only being a little bit sarcastic. You won’t believe what cups are actually measuring.
The funny part of the history of bras doesn’t arise until the 1970s with an alternative inventor for the bra by the name of Otto Titzling. Humorist Wallace Reyborn wrote a book, Bust-up: the Uplifting Story of Otto Titzling to introduce the urban legend that Otto was the real inventor of the bra. In fact, the name is a pun: Otto Titzling = “a-two tit-sling”. In the book, it describes Otto’s journey to invent the bra and the stealing of the idea by his nemesis Phillip de Brassiere or “fill up the brassiere”. In the 1980s movie Beaches, Bette Midler gives a hilarious rendition of this tragic tale.
Despite how bras may be represented now in society, I know I am grateful for the number of occasions from which my bra has saved me from either embarrassment or the inability to do an activity. For instance when the strap to the halter of my senior year prom dress snapped mid dance and the stick on bra I was wearing saved me from flashing the school. Do you have a bra story? Do you love or hate your bra?