Asian-chested is not an oxymoron

Archive for the category “Perspectives”

Where I Fit In

I left Korea several months ago. All the good and the bad are physically behind me now. Behind me also, a culture of hyper-conservative appearance draped over a very complicated attitude towards sexuality. So, boobs? No.

Now I live back in the States! A beautiful place, awash in bikini-clad tourists and strapless dresses and low-cut shirts. Boobs? Yes, very many.

But me? I’ve been trying to find myself in Korea for three years! I found a style for me that was right. Rephrase: I found a style that worked for me who lived in Korea. Transplant me to a part of the States where the weather is always amazing and it’s constantly tourist season, and it works less perfectly.

I’m still trying to find a style that works, but I’m really happy to find that my mindset is still very “I love my body!” I am astonishingly comfortable walking around in my bikini top (yay, Freya!!) at the beach, so really all I have to figure out is what to wear when I finally get a job!

Laser Hair Removal 1.5

It’s been a bit over two weeks since my first appointment. Many of the online sources I found for aftercare prescribed aloe vera gel and sunburn care, but I was lazy and did none of those. My doctor suggested no exercise for a week, and I participated in an Ultimate Frisbee beach weekend three days after the appointment.

I’m usually much better at listening to authority, promise.

For the first week, it really seemed like there was no difference. The hair was just there! Didn’t feel any different, didn’t look any sparser. In the past week, though, the hair’s just been falling out! A scrub in the shower just shook a bunch off. I want to say that about 20% of the hair is still down there, if even that. The doctor quoted an average of 70% hair off with 5 visits, so the hair that has come out so far might grow back. I’ll let you know. Underarms have changed significantly less, but I scrub those areas much less in the shower. Tickle reasons.

Laser Hair Removal in South Korea

I’ve done several of the hair-removal methods.

Shaving, check. Giant raised follicles and stubble-like results, check.

Epilator, check. Pretty good, actually. Still using my first epilator that I bought about ten years ago.

Waxing, check. Relaxing music in a clean environment, being single-mindedly fussed over, smooooooth vagina, check. Only issue was ingrowns from hell, and the tsk tsk every time my waxing expert saw them. Enjoyed these times.

Well, time for the next level: laser hair removal. The thought of permanent hairlessness is appealing. I very much prefer to be smooth. I found a place in Daejeon (a major city in central South Korea) called IAAN clinic with an English-speaking doctor and booked myself for a 7pm weekday/night/evening appointment.

Generally, Dr. Jung explained, it took 5 sessions to get 75% of the hair, varying by individual, and he would recommend more based on the situation, but I’m leaving Korea soon and can only fit in three sessions.

I’m receiving treatment for my underarms and Brazilian area (vagina, but they don’t call it that in the office).

I went in quite early, at 6:45. The front desk doesn’t speak fluent English but the nurses are good enough to communicate very reliably. I filled in a simple form and the doctor brought me in to talk. He explained a little about pre-care and after-care and asked if I had any questions. I changed into the provided tank top and gown. The doctor lasered my underarms and then the nurses did the Brazilian.

So I thought that I’d be in pretty good shape pain-wise, having done waxing for the past year. The extent of pain is similar but the pain is of a different kind. It felt kind of like tweezing the hairs, but with tiny lightsabers as tweezers.

Anyway, I was out by 7:30, and I’ll have my next appointment in a month!

Perspectives: Modesty on the Other Side

I’ve been in Korea for a while now. I love it, I’m making it my home, and I’m looking forward to the rest of my time here, however long it may be.

As I’ve grown up in a version of Chinese culture, the culture shock to me is not as great as it is to some of my fellow foreigners. There are still lots of ideas and habits here that are totally strange to me though.

Korea is a fairly conservative culture, thanks in most part, I think, to Confucian influence. However, if you look at their pop culture icons, or at the younger generation of children and adults, you’ll find tight clothing, sheer clothing, “artfully” ripped clothing, clothing that just has great “sexy” holes”, extremely short bottoms, you name it.

This is one of the most popular singing groups in recent weeks. Their image is sweet and innocent, the adorable "girls next door". Look at how much shoulder they show... and then look at how much leg they show. I don't mean to be judgmental, just surprised that this is perfectly acceptable and fits into their proposed image.

This is one of the most popular singing groups in recent weeks. Their image is sweet and innocent, the adorable “girls next door”. Look at how much shoulder they show… and then look at how much leg they show. I don’t mean to be judgmental; I’m just surprised that this is perfectly acceptable and fits into their proposed image.

However: beware if you are a normal citizen (or alien resident) parading around in the streets in a sleeveless top! Or if, who could imagine, a top that fits your shape instead of draping around it!

korean fashion cardigan fake two piece knit tops k517 Green-3Korean_Fashion_Large_Pentagon_Embellished_Loose_Sweater_with_Scarf

I googled “Korean fashion” and found these two tops to be most representative of what I see out and about these days. Long and drapey with safely concealed shoulders and zero cleavage.

Actually, it’s getting a bit colder, so there’s also this going on:

Yes, a jacket with short shorts or a miniskirt. I'm told this is also popular winter attire in Japan.

Yes, a jacket with short shorts or a miniskirt. I’m told this is also popular cold-weather attire in Japan.

Meanwhile, I’m stomping around with these risque tops that indicate the existence of breasts and shoulder skin (ooooh) and nice comfy jeans.

I'm so, so glad I went on a The Limited craze before coming to Korea. Even now it's almost all I wear to work.

I’m so, so glad I went on a The Limited craze before coming to Korea. Even now it’s almost all I wear to work. I also bought the one button-down that has ever worked for me at that store. Should have bought another…

With the weather cooling down, I throw on a sweater or jacket too, which helps with the shoulder bit of appeasing society… but I still like to have some space around my neck to breathe comfortably. We’ll just have to wait for scarf weather to come around!

Perspectives: Bra-fitting in Schools

Last week, this article came out. According to the piece, there’s a school that’s trying to integrate bra-fitting/buying into its curriculum.

Considering the source (Daily Mail)… well, take the actual article with the same mindset you’d have towards this publication in general, whatever that mindset may be. (Can you feel me trying to be both diplomatic and evangelically skeptical here?)

However, the article does address a valid concern. Is it “appropriate”, or ideal, or useful, or effective to start teaching about bras, how they fit, how to buy them, etc, in schools? Who would do the teaching? How would it work? Would it be offensive to conservative, religious, or disadvantaged families? (And just to make the discussion more complicated: should it be tied to gender identity education, which I have no background in and thusly have no knowledge of whether or not schools typically tackle it?)

Lots of comments have been posted, many of which are your typical spammy substanceless word salad. Some of the commenters actually provide support for their opinions (whether it’s valid or not is not a call I’ll make for you) but here’s a breakdown of a few of the more notable comments.

Objection, basis: Students today don’t have enough time to learn to read, write and do simple math as it is.

Objection, basis: Parents can/should just get them fitted at a department store.
(Me: Because that’ll help! /sarcasm)

Assent, basis: Families/parents are clueless in the first place and cannot be depended on to educate their children about bras.

Assent, basis: Schools are safe places to learn life skills, not simply academics. It would be a good addition to physical education (gym) classes.

Assent, basis: It’s just like that lesson on tying shoelaces when [commenter] was four. In 1974.
(Me: I must have missed school that day. I rocked Velcro sneakers for a long, long time. Also, I wasn’t born then.)

Objection, basis: The state is eroding the fun out of motherhood.
(Me: I swear I didn’t make this up.)

Unclear: Boys should be taught how to use condoms.
(Me: Aren’t they already? And why only boys? And why is teen pregnancy being discussed here? Well, I understand why but I disagree that this train of thought should be connected here.)

Objection, basis: Psychologically unhealthy for late bloomers.

Objection, basis: It’s an embarrassing topic. Furthermore, it’s the job of the school nurse to “catch” anyone who needs help in this regard.
(Me: Wow, so much to say on these two points. First: embarrassing? Yeah, only because society’s an immature bitch. [See what I did there? Being mature? =P] Really, though, one of the things to be taught, wherever this teaching is being done, is that it’s NOT embarrassing! It’s not a discussion that has to be whispered in code behind double-locked doors. Now, the school nurse? As far as I can recall, the school nurse is a single person who addresses the minor physical injuries of the entire student body, and who cooperates with outside professional medical departments when handling major physical injuries of, again, the entire student body. How do you expect a single school nurse to educate every girl on a one-on-one basis? How do you know for sure they’re qualified to do so? Are you comfortable with a male nurse going up to your school-age daughter and saying, “I noticed you have breasts. Do you need help getting fitted for a bra? I can help you with that.”? Furthermore, they’re not out on campus wandering around looking for people with broken wrists; they’re stationed at their office so that people who break their wrist or skin their elbow know where they’ll be able to find medical attention. How are they going to “catch” girls with developing breasts? Are the girls who get nosebleeds and fall from the monkey bars and intercept footballs with their spine the only girls to receive this education? Gah. Supernurse… only too much more super than usual. Count me out.)

And now, me. I get a special section because I’m the ruler and dictator and center of this blog =D I don’t know this school, or their faculty, or if this is even a true story, and I don’t have much background in education or curriculum development. All I have behind me is personal experience in a great public education system.

Not to equate bras and sexuality, but the latter is something that my public school(s) addressed somewhat adequately. In fifth grade, we had a special module called Human Growth and Development. Classes were gender-segregated, and we learned about reproductive organs. The girls got the basic 411 about menstruation and body hair. I think that was it.

In middle school, there was a very short special unit on sex that focused mainly on STDs. I’m very sure we also covered something in high school too, but I don’t remember much about either of these.

My point isn’t what was retained (because then it would be really short and not much in the way of evidence) but that my (admittedly more-liberal-than-most) public schools were able to realistically address these sensitive topics. We were always given the opportunity to opt out (well, our families/guardians were always given the opportunity to opt us out) and the education itself was very straightforward, true to fact and clinically carried out. If breast health, bras and bra culture were to be seriously introduced to schools, I think that it could be done really appropriately. Effective, honest, helpful? That depends on the teacher, the school and their resources. But it’s possible to do well.

Should it be done in schools? I think so. Where in schools? Certainly not the school nurse’s office! It could be a special module, like sexual health units. However, I definitely think that it should be distinguished from sex education, and that this distinction should be explicitly pointed out. There is enough unnecessary mental affiliation between breasts and sex in current generations. I don’t think it should be promoted in the next, much less in schools.

I see a few possible places to do this. One is in whatever class sex ed is being taught. I know that I just said that they shouldn’t be connected but it is definitely a convenient set-up. Another place is, as suggested by a commenter in the article, PE. It would certainly be immediately relevant as developing girls start to need support when they run (like I would have appreciated…) but my PE classes certainly had regular physical health/well-being components, and general outward breast health would fit right in.

Who would teach? One comment suggested bringing in retailers or other experts. Our (collective bloggership’s) problem with this is that retailers often get their shit wrong too. Teachers? Potentially even more disastrous. I can’t think of an absolute population that would be sure to help students the most, so my vote simply goes to whoever’s most qualified.

What about gender? I see upsides and downsides to both co-ed-ing and segregating gender for these units. Keeping classes whole is ideal for trickle-down/up/out education. If we have everyone in the class educated, then they can (potentially) spread what they learn in school to their family and friends. I personally don’t see the problem with boys learning about bras, but I know there would be plenty of people objecting to that. (I can’t give an objective two-sided debate on this topic, so if anyone wants to write that up, consider this an engraved invitation.) However, I would definitely disagree with segregating gender in addressing breasts and bras in a cultural, or societal context. Maybe this is critical-thinking approach more appropriate in high school, but I think it would be a valuable experience to discuss, with teachers and peers in school, the social perspectives of bras in their and other generations. When is it appropriate, for example, for a bra, or a bra strap, or the cups of a bra, to show, and why do they think so? When and where are conversations about bras and breasts appropriate, or necessary, and why do they think so? How does what they’ve just learned work with the dress code, and what they think of their school’s dress code? Insert here also discussions about slut-shaming, body-shaming, and connect these to topics like eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, etc). I definitely had education about eating disorders and I think it would be a great way to demonstrate relevance and importance.

I don’t think being offensive towards late developers or small busted girls is a problem. It should be a part of this unit to teach that small busts also need the support of a good bra, and that breasts of any size shouldn’t be shamed by others (or themselves). When it comes to disadvantaged families, the education is still valuable. I don’t know how to address these situations in particular, or if they should be addressed in detail at all, but it might be a point to make about bra-recycling and alternative resources. I can’t say for sure. As for conservative and religious families… well, I have to say that bras technically have nothing to do with that, but as with sexual health units, families could be given the opportunity to opt out. If they really have to. I guess.

Sadly, with the teach-to-the-test trends going way up, I don’t see any of this, whether done poorly or done well, happening at all.

What do you think about bras in school? Is it something you think should or shouldn’t be done? Is it possible? Something that will definitely happen, or that definitely won’t?

(I forgot to tackle the complication of gender identity! All I would have had to say is that my high school had an LGBTQ panel. I think it was an assembly, but the panel spoke in the auditorium, which would fit only a very small fraction of our student population. I guess we went in groups? Or maybe it was a club thing rather than a school thing. Anyways, bras! Wouldn’t hurt with this.)

Perspectives: I, too, Am Miss I-Cup?

I haven’t spent much time with US/UK system comparisons because it’s so impractical to think in US. However, when I unboxed my Affinitas package and caught sight of the tag, the side-by-side numbers really took me by a bit of surprise.

I didn’t realize that UK G translated into US I! Massive mental blank-out “oh.” moment.

Also, I love the Parfait tag; it’s fun and sturdy. I’m thinking about making a nice bookmark out of it with some ribbon in the hole (but then I stop and realize that I rarely pause in the middle of a book worth continuing unless it’s one I’ve read at least ten times).

Review of the Parfait by Affinitas Honey and Kimberly coming soon!

Perspectives: Pain (None of) and Thanks

I accept, among other things, that I’m fairly large-busted. I denied this when people (family, friends) pointed it out through high school, deflecting “Sure I have a chest but I’m not that big.”

I did struggle with pain, a bit, but never fully realized that really really wanting to hold your boobs steady with your hands as you ran your weekly mile for gym class meant that they were in pain, in that many words. That, and not being really athletic, along with other factors, really came together to make me a person who could not run. (I still ran. Just… really embarrassingly slowly. I may be the only kid in America who worked her butt off to get a B in gym. Thank god for swimming and tumbling units.)

But pain from bouncing really only occurred when I ran (or jumped, but now all of that is gone because I have awesome bras now, whooo).

There are other kinds of pain that large busts contribute to, primarily shoulder and back pain.

I’m really grateful that, despite wearing completely wrong bra sizes for years, I have not experienced shoulder or back pain that could be linked to my bust. (Sometimes, I wonder why not, and then I go back to being happy that it didn’t happen.)


Perspectives: Bras Are Like My Private Headgear

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of online gaming. (This sounds better than saying I’ve been playing a lot on the Internet ^^) One of the best features that my MMORPG of choice and many other RPGs have is the different ways you can personalize your character, through colored traits, costumes, and headgears!

Here are some ways that I find bras resemble headgear:


7. They are fun.

It’s a thrill seeing those headgear pixels come together in that space over the pixels that make up your head. It’s illogical until you feel that very specific joy.

It’s equally thrilling to jump into a fun, comfortable bra. It’s a physical burden off the shoulders of people changing out of ill-fitting bras, a continuous joy for enthusiasts… and a nice home for your chest!


6. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes (although they should come in more!).

I’ve seen people wearing sunflowers, sleeping cats, orc helmets, angel wings, flying goggles, gingerbread men, dead fish and more.

My mom was startled when I first asked if I could buy more colorful undies (That was back in middle school. Today I default to the comfy VS cotton/lace ones. They sometimes contain sequins and/or sparklies). She was also pretty startled to see my bra purchases; even in badly-fitting era, I liked solid, bright colors or unusual features (I still remember a bra, 34B, cotton but looked like denim. So much fun.). With her and probably lots of other women of her generation/mindset, the default is nude or muted, and full full full coverage. But look! There are SO many colors and patterns and cuts, and the range extends so much farther than what our local mall will ever see.

5. Each new piece is won as the result of a quest.

Headgears are often, if not mostly, put together by collecting materials and completing missions. In order to find materials and complete these missions, you either make enough money to buy what you need or kill the right monster for their loot. Some pieces take minutes. Some take months.

Bras are also hunted down. Maybe it’s a feature (a sub-30 strapless, anyone?), a discontinued brand, or a popular bra in an elusive size. Maybe it’s too pricey and you need to save up for it. Sometimes you just come across a great deal and find yourself completing a mission just like that. In all cases, I still say: EPIC QUEST.


4. If you reach out, people will help you.

There are massive walkthroughs and player guides that break down exactly what headgears do and how to obtain them. There are NPCs, user forums and fansites doling out unsolicited information. Reach out to in-game players for help! There are idiots but most players are wonderful men and women who are happy to help as much as they can.

This situation, I keep learning, was different years upon years ago, but today there is a huge and bustling community of bra-fitting, bra-admiring and bra-analyzing writers. Forums, websites, blogs galore! (Yes, they/we are slightly evangelical.) But every day I see people on reddit asking for input on their bra fit and on their measurements, and there are always several users jumping up to be helpful. If someone needs help and they speak up, by Gandalf’s pointy hat they WILL be helped!

3. After you learn to appreciate what you have and need, you start looking at more.

Since I have headgear against the undead, I should look into getting headgear that boosts my stats for fighting really fast monsters too. Get those dumb bats off my shoulder…

I already have several stories up so here’s something from a reddit stranger about getting addicted to bra-shopping. (Also love how this community defends its in-group!)


2. Different headgears suit different situations. / Different bras suit different situations.

Sometimes, you’re fighting hordes of insects in a bug-infested field. A leaf that minimizes damage taken from bug-type monsters can also minimize your need to use up all of your healing items. Sometimes, you’re up against zombies and orcs in a dark cave. They gang up on you really quickly if you’re not careful, so why not a nice hard helmet? It might be unreasonably heavy but it also provides an unreasonably high amount of defense. Maybe tonight you’ll tackle that dungeon tower with your friends. It’s a party; why not liven it up with a sleeping cat on your head?

Likewise, you’ll adjust to different needs and wants with different styles of bras. For a strapless or spaghetti top, you might want a strapless bra. For a physical day of moving house, you might want a more secure, max-coverage bra. For a day where you can really use a confidence booster to help you feel good about yourself, why not a possibly ridiculous but pretty and sexy bra under your otherwise totally casual outfit?


1. It’s your choice.

Simply put, you’re in front of one computer, and anyone who might not like what’s on your head is way over in front of some other faraway computer. As far as I know, game developers generally don’t let players steal headgears off one another’s heads. You’re wearing an eggshell that looks like a newbie’s freebie in a high-level tower; no one knows but you’ve imbued it with stat boosters and you need it to make up for your lack of agility. You’re wearing a fire-damage-resistant Santa hat in June in an underwater dungeon. It’s not too useful, but it looks awesome. Nothing actually matters, as long as you’re happy!

People may frown at your bra strap showing or your bra peeking out from a translucent top, but they honestly can’t do much (if anything) about it. Maybe they’ll say something. Maybe they’ll invade your personal space and, verging on sexual harrassment, touch you. Screw them! (Or, if they touch you, threaten to sue them.) They can’t do anything, and you can’t be expected to please them. Most of the time, they can’t even tell (until you encounter a bra-blogger who has memorized the shapes that each Ewa Michalak style produces) so how are they going to hold you accountable for that? They can’t, and don’t let them! As long as you’re respectful and thoughtful, and everyone else is respectful and thoughtful, the world will not stop turning because of your choice in bra.


Perspectives: My Perfect Bra

With December and all its gift-giving connotations well underway, bloggers and retailers have been pulling out their year-end wishlists. What kind of presents would we like to receive? What kind of discounts can we treat our customers to?

My take will be this: what would my dream bra be like?

  1. No cleavage.
    I do not like cleavage. As in, on myself. I don’t mind your cleavage, or her cleavage (his cleavage is a little strange but sure okay if he likes it). I despise having cleavage on my own self though. My dream bra would be great at separating. (Yes to lift but no to lifting up to my chin!) I think my Curvy Kate Romance is pretty close to ideal for this point.
  2. Close straps.
    I just want these things to perch less precariously atop my shoulders!
  3. Dangly pretties on the gore or straps.
    Just because they’re pretty. Just because. I always have fun with those little metal charms. Gore or straps, though, not both; that would be overkill.
  4. High gore.
    Goes with the no cleavage preference, I guess, but it’s also a matter of comfort. I just like it.
  5. Low underwires on the inside.
    A bit contradictory with the last point, but I do have trouble with pokey underwires against my sternum. I always have to push the underwires back out (especially on my Panache Ariza; it actually gave me a bruise and tried to break the skin once–ouch!).
  6. Indestructible underwires.
    I’ve never had underwires get very noticeably maldeformed but I’ve inherited the paranoia. It’d also be really, really fun to go around saying “Duuude my underwires are indestructible!”. Well, somewhere where saying something like that is normal, because otherwise I’d sound high off of something.

    Just like this. Just. Like. This.

  7. Lining!
    Definitely want lining and minimal padding. The stuff is just comfortable!
  8. Seamless.
    Don’t want these to show under my shirts!
  9. Three hooks.
    I’m theorizing that my Curvy Kate band has not stretched out at all because it has three hooks. It’s only a theory because I have no other three-hooked bras. Also, you get a slightly bigger sense of accomplishment when you get that third hook in behind you. Or maybe it’s just me.
  10. Unaging material.
    This is where the dream is truly a dream. If only material could be soft and strong and comfy and still NEVER STRETCH OR TEAR. (Yeah… I’ve torn wing material before… oops. Hey, has anyone ever tried titanium reinforcement?)

    Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s stone, guys. Immortality and all that sweetness.

  11. Availability.
    And of course, it’d be affordable and available to purchase in normal-people stores like Target or JC Penneys. Because then, with dream bra in hand, I can wander off to look at books and video games and sneakers. Does this really have to be only in my dreams?

What’s your dream bra?

Perspectives: On how availability impacts bra-ly knowledge

I was (somehow) on the topic of bras or something with my friends in college early this year, and they both mentioned they were 20something D, or DD. My response: “I don’t think those exist!”. And when I later learned my proper bra size and ventured into bra-selling spaces, I was proven right–those bras really don’t exist. It’s hard enough to get a 32 that’s not an A or B, let alone 30 or 28 (a fully impossible mission in department stores). And if their 20somethings were 26, that’s hard to get even from online specialty shops overseas. Their ribcages are tiny; I would actually not be too surprised if they turned out to be 26s.

With a majority of women who don’t look into bra sizing, who don’t look past products hanging on department racks, who simply grab a pretty-looking bra in the vicinity of where they bought their last bra, how does the custom of offering only the same 6 bra bands at limited cups help women outside that tiny range reach the understanding that back sizes actually vary towards the smaller end of the spectrum as well, and that they often need to be there? This isn’t about stigmas of “D-cup is huge! Anything higher is from surgery!” or “You’re only sub-34 at puberty or at anorexic twig-form”. This is about how popular physical retailers don’t carry even a moderate range of sizes, and how that created a circumstance that blocked me from understanding my body and the things I put it in.

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