Happy International Women’s Day! The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #Choosetochallenge. This call to challenge has a serious intent. From challenge comes change. Change in the biases that have long prevented women from achieving social and economic parity. Collectively, we can create an inclusive world.
My challenge may not be taken as seriously as the one described above. I propose challenging fashion constraints that have bound women’s bodies for decades. Did anyone catch the steamy Netflix series, Bridgerton? One scene focused on a household of young maidens preparing to attend one of the social season’s eleven lavish balls. Prudence Featherington wails in protest as her corset is ruthlessly laced to boost her bustline and cinch her waist (so much so she subsequently faints when presented to the Queen).
Internet searches for corsets increased by 100% since Bridgerton premiered on Christmas Day, according to the social shopping services, Lyst and Like to Know It.
Seriously?! Those Victorian patriarchal torture devices were the precursors of the bra, my least favorite garment. Dating back to ancient Greece, a variety of garments and devices have been used to support, cover, restrain, reveal or modify the appearance of breasts. I cannot think of a comparable clothing device for men. I just don’t think an athletic supporter qualifies as comparable. Arriving at my nest (home, hotel room, pop up tent) off goes the bra, lipstick, jewelry, and contact lenses. On go the baggy shorts, tee shirt and glasses. I love comfort. I really discourage friends from spontaneous drop-ins at my house because rarely, if ever, am I presentable. Opening a certain dresser drawer cues my dogs I’m about to put on a bra which inevitably means I’m leaving the house, a fact causing great consternation among my pampered pooches.
As damning as COVID-19 has been for our economy, the liberation of fashion constraints has been freeing. COVID-19 gave many women I know a free pass to go braless. Confined to our homes, why in the world would we consider confining our breasts? Work and social obligations were curtailed, as was our need to look presentable. I’m sure cosmetic companies have suffered as makeup’s importance in our daily lives diminished. Why bother with lipstick or blush when our faces are covered with masks whenever we venture out in public?
I realize there are women who are quite attached to their bras. Flopping around like a fish out of water is not an appealing choice for endowed women. I recognize they play a role in romance. Although I question whether men think they are a necessity. My husband met a bra manufacturer on a business trip years ago. “Why didn’t you make them easier to take off?” he queried.
So my challenge to women this day is liberation from man-made constraints of all kinds. That includes spiky heels, face paint, and most of all, the bra. #freeourboobs.