Posts tagged body image
Posts tagged body image
Every woman spends her life hearing all ways her body is awful, and none of the ways her body is awesome. Poor body image isn’t exclusive to any one size.
Why Objectifying the Breasts of “Tribal African Women” Is Part of a Racist Legacy
Invoking the image of African women “as a lesson” to Western women has a long, ugly history in racism, slavery, and colonialism. There is terrible, terrible tradition in Western cultures of making the bodies of indigenous peoples open to criticism, commentary, and co-optation, and of using their bodies as an example of what not to look like. The same mindset that makes it okay to use a photo of a “tribal African woman” to make a point about bras, is the same mindset that makes it okay to use a photo of a black woman’s natural hair as an example of how not to look and that allows the skin-lightening cream industry to thrive.
That contrast – of the naked with the clothed, the savage with the refined, the dark with the light, the superior with the inferior – is part of a horrid and horrifying legacy that reinforced a Eurocentric standard of beauty upon the skin, hair, lips, noses, breasts, and buttocks of black women. Pointing to the breasts of “tribal African woman’s” as evidence of your bra-wearing rightness (because let’s face it, there are other places to get photos of bare breasts than National Geographic) is the 21st century equivalent of gawping at Sarah Bartmann’s labia.
There is something very exploitative about not only co-opting and subverting the photos of these women, but also of essentializing them…of reducing them to one specific body part – their breasts. Their bosoms become a prop or a tool to aid in commerce: the selling of bras. That is the definition of objectification, and if you are a breast expert or bra expert or even someone who claims to want to help women, objectifying non-Western women should never be a part of that. “Tribal African women” do not exist to buttress the bra industry. Their bodies are not a cautionary tale for what happens if you go braless. And all this would be true even if the research said bras will keep your breasts from sagging.
Listen, if wearing a bra makes you feel better for whatever reason (more support, less pain, preferred shape, fashion and style, whatever), that’s great. People should wear bras if they want to wear them for whatever reason they want to wear them for. There’s nothing wrong or bad about wanting support or shaping or what have you. But there’s no need to resort to tired tropes, body myths, urban legends, and racist stereotypes to explain your preference. Just say you like them…and move on.
Body Positivity for the win.
9 out of 16 are WoC from 9 different nationalities - Spanish, Native American, Middle Eastern, Greek, Hawaiian, South African, Indian, African-American and Chinese.
Even the “white” people don’t all come from the same place - French, Irish, American, Scottish, German, and English.
I’m really sorry if I left out YOUR nationality or YOUR body type, but if I kept going to include every single possible woman in the world I’d never have time for sleep or school work.
This makes me smile.
(Via The Lingerie Addict: http://www.thelingerieaddict.com/2013/08/lingerie-advice-for-mesomorphs-women-with-muscular-builds.html)
The typical advice when it comes to bra fit now is to use your underbust measurement as your band size. Put another way, if your underbust is 28 inches around, then bra experts say your band size should be a 28. While that rule works great for women who have some cushion around their ribs, it works less great if you don’t. Not only does it hurt, but I literally feel like I’m going to flex out of my bra if I wear anything less than a 34 band. However, my underbust measure is 4 inches smaller at 30.” And I’m not alone.
Taiji of Wide Curves says, when it comes to bras, “I size up in band because I don’t have squish on my ribs, so I can breathe.” Plain and simple: muscle doesn’t “squish,” and if you have a muscular body type, it’s important to remember that a bra size which works for a friend or family member may be totally wrong for you…even if you have the exact same measurements. Always listen to your body, especially if your body is telling you something hurts. It’s okay to use sister sizing if you need to.
Something else muscular women have to keep in mind is the size and shape of their pectoral muscles (i.e. their chest muscles). If you’re a mesomorph, your pecs can have just as much of an effect on what you find comfortable as the size and shape of your actual breast tissue. Taiji of Wide Curves says, “I am very picky about the cut of lingerie/bras around my pecs. This is probably one if my most difficult fit points. It will kill a bra style instantly.” Lindsey of That Je Ne Sais Quoi concurs by saying, “Even my cup size can change depending on how many pushups I’ve done lately. I’m serious! It sounds ridiculous, but the pectoral tissue underneath shapes my modest breasts more than the fatty tissue on top. For this reason, I do own a small range of sizes and wear different bras depending on how my body is feeling that day.”
Basically, in addition to sister sizing, you may also want to keep a range of bra sizes in your lingerie drawer. Lindsey explains, “Sometimes you have to accommodate your body, especially if you’ve been training. I have both A and B cups in my bra collection, with bands from 30 to 34. I’m sure this is in part due to different brands’ sizing mechanisms, but it’s also because of my muscle fluctuations. So, don’t throw things away immediately if they’re too big or too small. Chances are at some point (as long as you still love the piece, of course) you’ll revisit it.”
Finally, both Lindsey and Taiji recommend bras with wide bands. Lindsey says, “I enjoy bras with wide bands because they’re more forgiving of my body’s natural muscle fluctuations,” while Taiji prefers, “…3+ hook bands because they don’t dig into my rib cage like shorter bands.”
When it comes to underpants, all three of us are in agreement…thin, tight elastic is out! Both Taiji and I sing the praises of stretch lace, and Lindsey and I both frequently go a size up in bottoms. Like Lindsey says, “I’ve got curves in the back…and I like them there.” While I feel most comfortable in boyshort, hipster, and full brief styles, Taiji prefers high cut panties because “low sides cut cut off circulation and dig into my big hips.” What does this mean for you? Play with with different style and brands until you find the right fit! Besides stretch lace, I also like microfiber and bamboo for my knickers. In short, any material that can stretch in multiple directions without digging in or losing its shape is a winner for me.
I love corsets, and I have for years. But it took me a long time to realize that I was never going to get the dramatic hourglass shape non-mesomorphs can achieve. Again, it all goes back to muscle just not compressing very well. While I believe the best corsets are custom no matter your body type, this can be especially true for muscular women as standard off-the-rack designs assume a certain amount of “squishiness” in their fit. I also recommend purchasing a corset with hip gores (or getting them added if you’re having one made) as hip gores let you lace your waist down a bit tighter in comparison to your hips…and that gives a more extreme silhouette. Finally, allow yourself a little extra time for breaking your corset in; you won’t be able to lace down as tightly or as quickly as your non-mesomorphic counterparts.
For a corsetiere’s opinion, Danielle of Ava Corsetry says:
“When I make corsets for women of a muscular build, I sometimes alter the basic pattern in shape to take into account things like slimmer hips. Muscled bodies, as opposed to soft tissue, also respond less to the pressure of the corset and can put more strain on it, so I add extra spiral steel bones and either a wide flat steel behind a standard busk or a wide, flat busk for stronger support. A coutil lining is a must as well.”
Our Favorite Lingerie Brands
Despite sharing a body type, Lindsey, Taiji, and I don’t all like the same things. Think of this section as a starting point, not a rule book. If one brand doesn’t work for you, don’t internalize it as an issue with your body. Just move on to the next. It can take multiple tries before you find the lingerie that’s a perfect for you. Don’t give up after one or two attempts.
For her picks, Taiji recommends loungewear from Midnight by Carol Hochman and bras by Natori bras. For lingerie, Lindsey is a fan of Bradelis, Poison, Fortnight, NOE Undergarments, and Bordelle. Between the Sheets, Relique, and Zinke are her favorites for loungewear, and Angela Friedman is her top choice for corsets. Like my collaborators, I’m also a fan of Natori and Between the Sheets, and in addition to those two I also like to wear Claudette, Hopeless, Kiss Me Deadly, Shimera, Hanky Panky, Wacoal, Wolford, Falke, Rago, ClareBare, and Boom Boom Baby Corsets.