In Loving Mammary: My Week Sans Bra
After deciding what product to deprive myself of, my bra, I anticipated the week of deprivation and what it may result in. I wondered if my attachment to my bra would weigh heavily on me, as I have both been wearing one for years and working at a lingerie store. Knowing the detriments to not wearing a brassiere, I was a bit nervous of the damage that I might do to my ladies in the course of one week, especially after a professor of mine had commented on running without a sports bra.
The night before beginning my week of deprivation, as I was laying my clothes out for the following morning, I hesitantly put away my bra. To accommodate for the lack of undergarments, I decided on laying out my favorite shirt for the day ahead due to its double layers, knowing that it would be more censoring than some of my other shirts. Waking up, I found that I instinctually grabbed for my bra first, feeling slightly disappointed when reminded by its absence that it wouldn’t be there all week. Getting dressed, I felt hideous. One of the first entries in my journal made comment about how I no longer felt feminine, in fact, I felt so negative that I remarked “I do NOT feel very pretty or feminine today, rather, I feel very, well, manly.” After dousing myself with my favorite perfume, I felt slightly more at ease. While getting dressed for work one morning my roommate (who knew that I was doing the deprivation assignment) commented on how I had a nice shape to my breasts. We got into a long discussion about how we both felt that we couldn’t go braless because our ladies were awkwardly shaped. This is something that I have heard from previous friends as well. Women seem to think that the nature curvature of their breasts is unattractive. It is of no surprise that women tend to have body issues, but this seemed to be a more common trend than I had previously thought. Accompanying this image discontent, is the concern about breast size in relation to the rest of the body. One thought that crossed my mind was “I wish that my abs were as tight as when I was in high school, I feel like my gut is hanging out past my boobs.”
As the week continued, I realized that I never quite felt fully dressed because my routine was based solely around starting the day by putting on my brassiere first and then getting dressed. I realized how much effort I typically spend trying to ensure that I wear the right bra under certain shirts. Getting dressed took much less time than when I would wear my bra. It sometimes could take a full thirty minutes just to decide on what bra to wear (especially if I kept changing my mind on the shirt).
My relationship with my undergarment was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought that I might miss it more than I did. Although at first uncomfortable, I quickly learned new and interesting ways to mask that I was brassiere-free. Many of my summer shirts and dresses are constructed so that you can wear them without a bra. I found myself dressing in them quite frequently; thankfully the weather was warm enough that I could. Along with this, I tended to wear more free-flowing shirts, and scarves to cover up. The curious trend that emerged was that the reactions of the people around me who knew that I was conducting this assignment were far more concerned with my lack of a brassiere than I was. It seemed that everyday someone would make a comment or joke about not wearing a bra. I also found that my peers were quite hesitant to actually say the word “bra.” The subject would be brought up in ways that alluded to the provocative topic yet never distinctly mentioned. I began to wonder whether this might be due to the geographic setting I was in, as it had never been a provoking subject before. Could the South (specifically speaking the Knoxville area), be more conservative in discussions regarding feminine undergarments? I had to laugh a bit to myself at the conversations that were started merely because I wasn’t wearing a bra, and the lack of knowledge that women had concerning theirs. At work we see around 80% of women who don’t know the simplest thing---how to properly wear a bra-- and because of that women get the wrong size and feel discomfort throughout the day. Spurring discussions about feminine needs and associated products would ensure that women are well educated, comfortable, and their focus was on something more imperative than an underwire poking into them. Certainly when it concerns comfort women need be better informed.
Finally reaching the end of the week, as I was putting my bra on for the first time in over 7 days, the first thing that I noticed was how uncomfortable it was. However, the emotional dependency to my bra won over, as I once again felt feminine. I once again felt that I was fully dressed and ready for my day. “My outfits immediately changed too.” I began wearing shirts that were more form fitting. Less concern was placed on covering up.
The insights that I have gained are centered mainly on the emotional attachment that I had with my bra. With such a routine item, I hadn’t expected the emotional pull to be so strong, however, the one thing that I thought about every day was the feeling that I wasn’t feminine enough. In regards to applying this information in advertising, using Taylor’s Six Segment Strategy Wheel as a guide to building strategy, my attachment to my bra would be most appropriate in an ego and socially combined strategy. The positioning strategy that would best work for me would be to use a user image tactic that reiterates the emotional gain received through wearing a brassiere. A user image strategy would be the best approach in acknowledging the often dismissed emotional attachment that women have to their brassieres, and creating an image in women’s minds that by using a certain product that you will emerge more feminine, both internally and externally. Women want to feel beautiful, and by presenting something to her that meets those needs, advertisers will relate to her on a level that she may not cognitively recognize, but nonetheless will respond to.