CurvyHK

Asian-chested is not an oxymoron

Archive for the tag “bra problems”

Discovery: Spokesperson

I’ve written about George Takei before, and he’s back again with a less jokey bit of outreach. Recently, he’s reposted a video highlighting the struggles that large-busted women face. His page reaches a really big audience, so I’m hopeful that it will inspire more people to check out bra-fitting and having empathy for those of us who have to wear bras!

Breast Reduction

Many months ago, a reader contacted me through email. She’s a fantastic woman and we’ve talked about a variety of things, but one thing that I wanted to bring to more peoples’ attention (with her permission) was her successful breast reduction! So, first of all, congratulations to fettucine_alfredo to taking that amazing step! I told her that it was braver than anything I’ve ever done but the woman is not taking her due credit so please back me up here!

She didn’t stop at the surgery, though. She decided to create a resource for others making the same decision (especially for large busts on a small frame, as there’s not much information for that surgery on that body type now) and wrote a review about her experience. Read it here:

http://www.realself.com/review/san-francisco-ca-breast-reduction-my-breast-intentions-complete-boob-titles   (It’s NSFW, btw; you probably don’t want to click on that in the library)

The review covers a bit of her personal history, her decision process, a little bit about insurance, and then the surgery itself and updates of her condition at various points afterwards.

If you are considering the surgery, have a friend or family member thinking about it, are curious about the process, or if you’re even just looking for something good to read, I highly recommend it.

Wishful Thinking

I’ve been working on noticing the kinds of clothes that look good on me, and how garment fit works in general. Although my progress is slow and not very steady, I like to think that I’m learning something.

For example, I know that even if it were in stock and stocked in my size, this dress, adorable as it may be, would look very very different on me than on this model:

ASOS Bunny DressIt sucks that I like it so much and that I actually think I’d look good in it (two things that don’t often happen, especially with a dress), but I’m realizing just looking at the design of the dress that the upwards-pointing waist would wrap under my breasts in a very “HERE WE ARE” way, probably east-westing them, which would add to pulling that middle slit even farther apart. Nope, we’re done window-shopping this dress. (But aww bunnies, right?)

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!

Big Boob Meltdown

Infamous big boob problem: button-down shirts.

Unavoidable situation: ultra-formal interview.

Countdown to interview: nervous googling, unsuccessful shopping, major profanity, unbridled frustration and tears melting together into one giant hot mess.

I have a suit that is pretty fantastic and fits me well. I got the sleeves tailored a few days ago, but put off figuring out the clothes underneath until two days pre-interview because I was busy, you know, working the job that I do have now. It’s my first skirt suit (and I will never understand why it’s more conservative to walk around pants-less) and the super-high waist of the skirt was really awkward at first but now I’m used to it.

But holy shit, how am I supposed to dress underneath without looking like
a)
I got run over by the distressed wrinkle monster;
b) I am all boob and nothing else;
c) I am tent, hear me swim;
d)
I am balloon, watch me float;
e) I am being asphyxiated by my own clothing;
or f) all of the above plus some??

If I size down, I gape through the top buttons and destroy all semblance of being in a piece of shaped clothing when I lift my arms.

If I size up, I gape through the bottom buttons and destroy all semblance of being in a piece of shaped clothing when I lift my arms.

In both cases, the shirt folds in under my bust in the most amazing display of awkwardness since ever, and tucked-ness goes straight to hell if I move a muscle. Also, I can basically fit another person on my back in my shirt. All the shirts.

Because it’s fun to have my nerves played with by unwieldy clothing rather than making myself the best interviewee for the job, right? RIGHT?

(I am now home from this interview, and I’m having no luck trying to calm down about it. I’m thinking about giving myself some temporal leeway with this blog just to ease off on self-pressuring for a while, but I wanted to get this post out and away first.)

Discovery: Japanese Culture on Men in Lingerie Stores

I came across this really fun video on Youtube about Japanese social norms regarding lingerie shopping. Take a look!

This video is from a channel geared towards Japanese language and culture learners, and my favorite videos are when Tomoko and Victor work together to analyze and teach Japanese culture and news. The topic for the video above, if you haven’t watched it, is an incident that Tomoko saw while she was shopping with her daughter for lingerie.

What basically happened was, there was a guy/girl couple shopping together, and a woman shopping alone. The single woman was really uncomfortable shopping with the guy around, so she complained to the clerk. She was complaining really loudly, so the guy overheard and got angry too, and the two of them started to argue. The clerk had to call security on them. The guard came in and Tazed everyone.

A few takeaways and comparisons:

How men avoid lingerie stores completely: It makes complete sense for men to be uncomfortable around women’s undergarments in public, and all the men I see hanging around Victoria’s Secrets and lingerie departments of larger stores do look extremely uncomfortable and even slightly panicky, but hell, so was I until a few years ago. The fact that they’re there is not uncommon, though, and I can’t really find a sense that it’s culturally taboo for them to be around.

The sense that the woman’s looking like an “upstanding citizen” and the fact that she brought up a complaint and started arguing are contrasting: This is more a social/cultural issue, I think. “A women looks like a nice person, but she’s speaking up about being uncomfortable.” Would this sentence still be using a “but” conjunction in other places? (Also, HAHA at the “women don’t usually get that angry”.)

Cute but really inconvenient that the Japanese rendition of lingerie (ranjerii, /rɑndʒɜri:/) is so similar to laundry (in English, approximately /rɑndʒri:/).

What do you think of the video?

Discovery: Underwires and TSA

I have to say that I’ve never been stopped for my underwires at airport security. I’ve been stopped for other reasons: “Your library of books is too dense to show up on the X-ray”, “We can’t see through the metal box holding… oh, these are pencils”, etc. I’m also insanely paranoid about getting through the machine that you walk through; I hold my breath and creep over, every time! It’s illogical because I take everything off and shouldn’t set it off but I feel like half a criminal anyway.

Anyway, I’ve heard a few stories about underwires setting off these TSA machines at airports, while plenty of other women (including me) have never had this happen.

I FOUND THE REASON *cue rising chorus of aahhHH*

According to an airport screening officer who did an AMAA (Ask Me Almost Anything) thread on Reddit, the machine detects the total amount of metal on your body, not specific pieces of/or specific densities. So if you’re wearing jewelry, have dense underwires and maybe metal somewhere else on your person, you might set the machine off even while the next person wearing the same underwires doesn’t set it off. The machine has some unannounced allowance for the amount of metal going through, and any higher amount will ring. Also, light metals will go through more easily / contributes less to this allowance.

The new machines are all-over scanners, I think.

Also, a bit about TSA and public opinion:

I like the TSA. Yes I get anxious going through security (personal problem), and yes some rules seem arbitrary (they’re there though and they’re clearly labeled throughout the airport), and yes it can take forever (get there earlier), and yes there are sometimes very grumpy security officers (there are grumpy people in general, in all occupations), and yes I’ve heard people legitimately questioning their effectiveness/usefulness (I also question the usefulness of various school administrators but we can’t throw them all out can we), BUT as an extra procedure, it really doesn’t hurt anyone. The officers I’ve met for longer than a minute have always been friendly and helpful. I remember a lady TSA officer who had to search my bag after the X-ray, and I had a massload of pads because I was on my period then. She was a classy lady, that one. She searched my stuff good and thoroughly but rummaged through my pads without taking them out and embarrassing the crap out of me in front of my dad and other airport people, which I’d totally been expecting.

I really don’t think they deserve this really poor public opinion. It makes me sad 😦

Standing all day, looking at and through people’s stuff, herding person after person through the same spots, some cooperative and some uncooperative, and explaining and repeating information that is widely broadcast and clearly posted… this is not an easy job. Please don’t give airport staff any unnecessary grief and do give in to your urge to make everyone’s day at work go smoothly and happily!

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.)

YAY!

Discovery: Miss I-Cup / I 컵 녀 / I 컵 여자

This is a bit different, but it’s the kind of angle that I want most for CurvyHK explore: what is an East Asian population’s reaction to a discussion of breasts and bras? I’m really excited to write and share this post!

Miss I-Cup, or I-Cup Girl, is a South Korean teenage girl who was featured on television because of her larger-than-average bust.

This post is going to be of the novel-length variety, so I’m going to learn how to use the cut feature. This is what you’ll find when you click in:

  • Links to the broadcasts featuring Miss I-Cup.
  • My summary/translation of the videos.
  • My opinion of the videos / the program.
  • How is this story and the way it was presented reflective of East Asian culture?
  • How do the individuals in these videos and reports compare to what we find/dicuss in the bra-blogging community?
  • My invitation for your feedback!

Read more…

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