CurvyHK

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Archive for the tag “bra-fitting”

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.)

Well, Sometimes Things Show When You Wear Them

Thanks to George Takei. I love this guy; he’s witty and adorable and passionate about awesome things. Also, he shares lots of funnies on his Facebook page.

Your strap is showing.

Back before I learned about bra sizing, my straps were constantly falling over, so if I wore T-shirts or other short sleeves, they’d fall right out. One time, my friend commented, “Your bra strap is showing. How sassy!” It was just a fun “hey just so you know” with a “let’s make this less awkward with a joke” comment, but it is memorable. Bypassing bra-fitting issues–so my bra strap is showing. So what?

Not that I mind(ed, then and now) him mentioning it. It’s absolutely appreciated, just as I appreciate “hey your shirt’s ripped in the back”, “your kitchen’s on fire”, “there’s food in your hair”, and “there’s a monkey on top of your head”. But society-wise, culture-wise, (and a nod to the Modesty Panel: modesty-wise) what’s the big deal about a bra strap peeking out, intentional or not?

Just to avoid throwing these questions out to the Internet!wind and leaving them hanging, I’ll contribute an attempt to address it. It’s a big deal in Chinese culture for any type of undergarment to show. (In TV shows and movies depicting historical China, they’ll imply intimacy between characters by showing them waking up in their undergarments, which are pretty much the same things as normal clothes except undyed/white. How scandalous!) My female relatives in Hong Kong would definitely not hesitate to point out a wandering bra strap with “you need to put that away”.

(Funny anecdote unrelated to bras: Remember the VS shirts I raved about once upon a time? My cousin-in-law called it a “deep V”, and I can’t help chuckling every time I think of this shirt being categorized as deep anything.

Well, yes, it’s more revealing on me than on other possible wearers due to my bust, but if I had to define “deep V”, I’d first be thinking about the shape of the letter V which personally has to at least be an acute angle. This shirt? Maybe a hyper-shallow V if you want to call it a V at all. Seriously. The neckline is practically a flat line. [I just very nerdily measured the image against a protractor and it’s 135°. Nowhere near acute!])

(Still laughing.)

Anyway, to conservative members of the Chinese population, and to more “radical” ones (the “deep V” cousin-in-law is considered extremely modern, radical and hip), visible bra straps are an absolute no-go. I’m not sure what it would indicate to them, though. Laziness? Promiscuity? Lack of self-respect, or respect for others? Probably all of the above.

 

Edit: An interesting thought occurred to me. The people who object to visible bra straps are, logically, very likely to be the same people who object to visible/apparent nipples, for the same reason. How counter-intuitive, that these two oppositely related situations provoke the same social reaction!

Where Is Your Sternum?

Thanks to WordPress, I get to see some of the search terms that bring people here. A surprising number indicate that people are stumbling into my corner of the Internet on their mighty search for… where exactly the sternum is located.

This absolutely warrants a dedicated post.

Bra fitters advise (well, they’d demand it if they could) that the center gore of your bra tack to, or be firmly touching, your sternum.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO YOUR STERNUM??

For that matter, what is it there for?

First, location: It’s in the center of your chest, between your breasts! (If you do not have breasts, then they are between where your hypothetical breasts would be in those situations when you have hypothetical breasts.) Your ribcage is basically two mirror image half-cages, right? (Right?) They are symmetrical with a vertical line of symmetry going from your chin to your navel The sternum is the flat bone that runs along that line of symmetry, connecting the two ribcage halves. (It’ll be positioned upwards from the lowest point in your ribcage, because your lower ribs angle up before meeting. The sternum is not nearly as long as your full ribcage. )

What is it for?

From the point of view of a Googler (read: not a medical professional but good at looking things up online): it supports and is the core for your clavicles/collarbones and your ribcage. You know, the ribcage that protects your heart and any other vital organs hanging out in that vicinity? That one.

Since it’s kind of… in the middle of your body… beneath skin and tissue… your bra’s not exactly going to have direct interaction with the actual sternum bone. When we say “tacking to your sternum”, we mean it should be firmly touching that location marked in red in the above diagram, on your chest.

The sternum is also called the breastbone.

I’ll ask my nursing friends for any input on this cute primitive-dagger-shaped bone, see if there’s anything interesting on their front.

Sources: Yahoo Education ; The Free Dictionary

2012, Through the Lens of My Bras

January – March:

My final semester of university began.
Thoughts: I didn’t actually think too much about bras.
Bra size: 34B and 34C.
Bra fit: Badly-fitting. Rode up my back every day. I pulled at my backband several times a day. I noticed this habit a lot when hanging out in my friends’ common room and kitchen. Underwire traveled up my breast, and I’d tug down on that too. My straps constantly fell down.
Laundry habits: Washer and dryer, in a mesh bag, thrown in with all my other clothes, normal/harsh settings. (Previous to this year, it was handwash and hang-dry because ALL of my clothing was handwash and hang-dry. I was fighting the laundry-card institution at our university.)
Bra mindset: I’m definitely bustier than other Asians but I’m not that big. B sounds like a nice letter.

April-May:

I was getting mentally prepared for graduation (the ceremony, not the concept. I will never admit to the concept.)
Thoughts: I wanted to treat myself to something nice. With graduation looming and a dress for the occasion coming into view, I wanted something nicer to match what went under the dress.
Bra size: 32DD-E, as measured by Kaori’s Closet and Journelle.
Bra fit: Better-fitting. My band finally stopped traveling. It felt incredibly tight but I came to enjoy the feeling of actual security. My straps stayed up!
Laundry habits: No change.
Bra mindset: Nope, I am absolutely not in a 34B.
Special events: I got professionally fitted!

May-August:

I left the east coast and my life as a student.
Thoughts: I became interested in bras/lingerie and discovered a vast and welcoming bra-blogosphere.
Bra size: Back size went down to 30. Cup letter went up to F, then FF.
Bra fit: Well-fitting. Heeding the songs of bra-bloggers, I paid attention to the gore, the band and the straps.
Laundry habits: Still normal detergent. Handwash and hang-dry in the sun. There was actual sun and an actual outside to hang stuff in!
Bra mindset: I got a bit confused about my ribcage measurement going down so much. It wasn’t frightening so much as “aww man, my selection is even smaller”.
Special events: I was so inspired by the blogs I was reading that I made this one.

October-present:

I finally began working a part-time job.
Thoughts: I got really invested in lingerie. A lot of my time and energy went into thinking about not just the practical, but also the social and cultural aspects of bras and breasts.
Bra size: Band size went down to 28 (ribcage measurements are regularly moving between 29 and 28). I thought I overshot the cup letter to GG, which was true in some cases, but not in others; I’m still learning about brand-to-brand sizing habits.
Bra fit: Well-fitting, in general. There are some experiments that are not perfect.
Laundry habits: Switched to Johnson’s baby wash. Handwash and lay out to dry on a towel in my room.
Bra mindset: All I hope is that my bandsize won’t go down anymore because finding bras gets exponentially harder down here. Cup size is also going up much more than I would ever have expected.
Special events: I came out of hiatus and returned to write posts, some of which I’m really proud of. Also, the site is getting read and linked to from some pretty awesome places. Love it, and I’m so happy that my little CurvyHK child is getting seen. As of today, we’re at over 3,000 views from 63 different countries. Wow!

I hope 2012 has been exciting for everyone else, too. There is a lot planned for making 2013 a great one, both for me personally as well as for CurvyHK. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to hang out!

Have a great holiday season and see you next year! Read more…

Review: Journelle

Review: Journelle
(their website; their facebook; yelp)

Journelle was the other bra boutique in Manhattan (besides Kaori’s Closet) that I chose to be fitted at. It’s located right next to Union Square but is far away enough that there isn’t really traffic on that particular street. Yelp has some photos of the storefront. It looks pretty classy inside, not that I really took any time at all to look around myself, but since I’d had that first exhilarating fitting experience already, I wasn’t as intimidated as I could have been.

I marched straight towards the salespeople at the register. I think they might have realized my (slightly abated!) ignorance-fueled desperation, because one of them came straight up and asked me if I needed help. I answered in the affirmative and she grinned. “Yeah, thought so. You look like a girl on a mission!!”

I used the same method as I’d used in Kaori’s closet (“purple shirt, help me underneath it please!”). She took me to the back, where there were several really luxurious and comfortable fitting rooms. Lots of online reviewers liken the store and rooms to a spa; never having spa’d before, I can’t make a comparison, but it was very, very pamper-y.

The fitter measured me with a tape and told me I was between 32 DD and 32DDD (same verdict as Kaori’s Closet. am I drawing too many comparisons between these two?). She brought back lots of bras in those and neighboring sizes (good sign!) in various blacks, darks and nudes. She really focused on giving me a good, comfortable and accurate fit as well as meeting my goal of not having the bra show under the lace shirt. Lots of good fitting advice: start on the loosest hook and go in as the bra relaxes; the bra feels too tight now because you’re used to a loose fit; your bra usually rides up right? loose band’s fault. She really put in a lot of effort, and I felt completely taken care of. I started feeling bad because I was trying so many on, but she just kept at it: “It looks pretty good, but I guess that nude is a little too bright. I’ll go get a darker one.”

A fitter who goes back into hunt mode because a well-fitting nude is too bright for the shirt I want to wear? GOLD!!!

Also, no mention at all of matching panties/anything: props! From me, at least.

The bras were all full price and really expensive. Three dollar signs on Yelp; some of the bras were over $100. Didn’t stop me from trying them on, but they were definitely eliminated as potential purchases from the beginning.

I came out with a 32E Chantelle “Rive Gauche T-shirt Bra” in cappuccino–review to come soon. I think I can review it honestly despite the fact that it doesn’t actually fit too well anymore.

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.

Perspectives: On bra-blogging as a Chinese-American/Hong-Kong-American

In order to put together posts in Chinese, I’m asking for a lot of editing help from Mom. Besides the “I’ve never heard of this” and “I can’t believe people think so hard about these things” and “Are you serious?” lines, I’m also getting several anecdotes about Chinese culture in general (in terms of attitude towards this genre of topic) and about the women in our family.

When CurvyHK was just a thoughtbaby, before I started putting it together, I overheard Mom on the phone with my eldest aunt. My eldest aunt is a really impressive lady: smart, skilled and efficient (all the virtues HKers prize most). She also has four (mega-adorable) granddaughters, so she’s passed many of those life milestones I’m going to trip over in the future. In addition, she’s worked with clothing and people all her life. This must mean she’s well-versed in the whole business of bras, right?

Well, that conversation that I overheard was about me learning all this fascinating stuff about bras on the web. I joined in the subsequent call and the three of us tried to figure out her bra size over the phone (Let me tell you: an arduous endeavor with limited chance of success).

According to traditional norms, East Asian women, whether they are in Asia or overseas, are still expected to be modest, to figure things out on their own, and to keep mum about taboo topics such as the womanly aspects of being a woman (ie, bras, breasts, menstruation cycles and sex, just to blast a few out there). I’d always assumed that this meant quiet, subdued conversations between mother and daughter, between sisters, or between two close friends. Not at all! Apparently, if you’re in a strictly traditional home, each new woman is stuck with the task of rediscovering gravity and reinventing the wheel. Take me, the least conventional female member in all my extended family: I learned about breasts, menstruation and sex in my public school fifth grade classroom during a special section “Human Growth and Development”, and I learned about bras by rushing in and out of JC Penney’s with my mom (or, if we’re talking about proper learning, not even three months ago from NYC bra boutiques and online bloggers).

This whole situation gave me a heads-up. If this was new to my aunt, who I feel is more likely than most other women in Hong Kong to understand and be well-informed about bras and the wearing of such things, then maybe this thoughtbaby has the potential to actually be important and helpful!

如何知道你的胸圍不適合你的體型

(除了最後有一些不是胸圍的照片,照片都來自于JCPenney’s的網上目錄。)

點擊可放大! 移動滑鼠到格上可看到更多解釋。

1. 胸圍的背帶(band)在後面被肩帶拉高。(背帶太大。)

2. 胸心(center gore)不貼著身體(在胸骨的位置)。(背帶太大。)

3. 金屬托不貼著身體。(背帶太大。)

4. 腋下有賤肉。(背帶太大,罩杯太小,或沒有把軟組織撥進罩杯内。)

5. 乳房的軟組織擠出罩杯之外。結果可能好像有四個乳房的樣子。(罩杯太小。)

6. 肩膀,腰背痛。(背帶太大;因爲背帶承托不住乳房,重量都靠肩膀和腰背托起。)
(找這樣的照片比較難,不過你如果因爲胸圍的問題而需要使用以下的產品,你大概有這個問題。)


承認最後這一些照片有點過份;開玩笑啦~

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