My granddaughter reached a milestone of womanhood this week. She purchased her first bra. Her mom was on the phone in a heartbeat and I could hear Taylor in the background, “You’re not telling Nana about it are you?” Of course she is honey! And I’m telling the world. But I had to be a good Nana, so I told her to come to the phone and I’d tell her about her mom’s first bra.
First bras are all the same- two flat triangles of white cotton with straps. Girls don’t need a first bra for anything except the transition between the innocence of childhood to the fearful modesty of preadolescence. First bras are a protection against the very idea that someone might see something. Of course it will only be a few years before the idea is to "lift and separate" so someone will see almost everything, but I try not to think of my child’s child thinking about that. LOL
It was only a few hours before Taylor decided that the whole bra idea was not as desirable as she’d first thought. She complained that "the straps hurt" and "the back thingy itches my back". Welcome to the world of women! Bras have been driving us crazy for centuries. My grandmother wore one that would be considered a torture device in at least six countries.
You can read all about bras at History of the Bra. I was surprised that most of the blame for them goes to women. I would have thought that such an evil invention could be directly attributed to men, but they’ve only played a small part. It seems that the evolution of the bra has gone right along with the evolution of our ideas about how women should look. One of the main reasons for the corset wasn’t to hold up the breasts, but to make the waist look smaller. We’ve been killing ourselves, literally and figuratively, for that one since the dark ages.
My husband and I were discussing the days when bra commercials pictured a bra on a manikin, wearing a sweater. You couldn’t even show a naked manikin on television! Now I challenge you to tell me the difference between the annual VS “style show” and the ones our fathers paid money to see! There is a JCPenney commercial that makes me blush! Reminds me of when we used to shop downtown and Mom avoided taking us past the Fredericks of Hollywood store because of the “naughty” lingerie in the display window. I’ll bet she wouldn’t approve of the Valentine’s display they had at my local WalMart this year!
I remember when my mother wouldn’t even hang her bras on the clothesline. She dried them in the house so the neighbors wouldn’t see them. And when I wore a sleeveless dress in high school I pinned my bra straps so they wouldn’t show. Now it doesn’t seem to matter if the straps or back or half the front shows.
My granddaughter wanted to know why her new bra has numbers. “What’s a 30?” she asked? A status symbol, and an omen, honey. No matter what that number reads, it will never be exactly what you want. Numbers will haunt you for the rest of your life- bra size, waist size, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels. Forget algebra, bra size is the first lesson in math that matters.
So, now I’m really old. One of my granddaughters is driving and the other is wearing a bra. Both have birthdays next month. I know there are many more milestones ahead and I hope to enjoy the view from here until one of them writes about her own granddaughter’s first bra!