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.
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!])
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!