A Tribute to the Bra
According to On-this-day.com, the brassiere was invented on May 30th. I've decided, therefore, to dedicate this hub to that wonderful invention, the bra---the one without which so many women (and men) would be lost.
The brassiere was certainly not the first device used by women to cover/hold up their breasts. Wealthy women throughout ancient history used many bra-like devices, such as the dudou in the Ming Dynasty and the ancient Indian kanchuka. The brassiere as we know it today, however, was unheard of until the early 20th century. Before the advent of the bra, women used tight, constricting corsets to keep their breasts (as well as their waistlines) supported. Or crushed, rather. Yeah, crushed would probably be the better word for it.
With the new century, however, came a new way of holding up the breasts---the brassier. Invented by a woman who found her breasts were much too large for the whale-bone corsets that were all the rage at the time, the modern bra was much safer, healthier, simpler, and more comfortable than traditional methods of breast confinement.
Err...sort of. Almost, anyway.
The bra was patented at around 1914 and increased in popularity throughout that decade. In 1917 women were asked to stop buying corsets so that more metal would be available for the war effort--an estimated two battleships worth of metal, to be exact. If it were not for the first World War, bras as we know them may not have caught on nearly as quickly, or perhaps not even at all.
Through the course of history bras became a symbol of femininity, and were worn by more women than ever before. All of that seemed to change, however, in the 1960s. The view of the bra as a female constriction device caused controversy an for represented the bonds that tied women in a majorly patriarchal society. The supposed feminist bra burnings of the late 60s and early 70s were greatly exaggerated, however, and only one documented protest in the 1970s involved the burning of an actual bra.
My father had a friend who had to wear a bra in high school because, for some odd reason, he had breasts. He wasn't overweight. On the contraire: he was actually quite skinny and still is. He just, for some reason, had breasts.
They're gone now.
The male bra is perhaps more tastefully known as the "compression vest", or the compression bra. The development of breasts sometimes occurs in adolescent boys and middle aged men, and is known as gynecomastia. Many men who develop gynecomastia opt to wear a compression bra, the purpose of which is to compress and flatten rather than life and separate like its female counterpart.
The Future of Bras
The "topless look", as it was called by fashion historian (which is apparently a thing) Rudolf Kristian Albert Broby-Johansen--a man who used up all of the ink in several pens just writing his name--was expected to gain popularity following the 1970s. It is nearly forty years later, however, and men and women alike still wear bras daily. The amount of women, many of them celebrities, who do not wear bras when going out in public is increasing, and clothing is being designed that was meant to be worn without a bra. Quite a few women change out of their bras once they're at home, especially if the bra does not fit quite well and causes discomfort.
So, there you have it.
Around one hundred years ago today, some woman sewed two pieces of silk together and invented the modern bra. Now most women all over the world are wearing it.
But in another hundred years will it still be around, or will women's clothing have evolved to not require it anymore?
Time will tell.
I won't be around to see it, though, so for now I'll just keep wearing my bra. Or not wearing it when I don't need to.