I have a sense this post is going to be all over the map. In theory, it's about bra-sizing and about how it's changed substantially since the 1940s, and why. But I know it's going to get somewhat mired in my complicated feelings about a particular style of lingerie blog - I'll call it the modern lingerie blog, not to imply that if one's lingerie blog doesn't conform to the model it isn't modern.
Let's kick off with that topic, shall we?
I love the UK and its lingerie market so much I can't stand it. First nation to recognize that many women have large breasts, and small frames, and good taste, and sex appeal, I really think the British are pioneers. Not to mention that they're the only ones who seem to make great-looking things that are also affordable. And that they have awesome online resources. You can't get me off my soap box on this one.
It shouldn't be a surprise, given this British facility and the culture that supports it and has sprung up as a result of it, that bloggers would seize on the opportunity to speak about their experiences and to share what they have learned.
That's what we style and fashion bloggers do. We put on great clothing and talk about why it's great and what makes us feel good. We deconstruct the intimacy and semiotics of garments. Body language, indeed.
But to reinsert the personal into the political: No question, I'm an exhibitionist. A remarkably vain one. Hopefully, a chic one. Most definitely, a communicative one :-) Under the right circumstances, I'm also a pretty apt voyeur. I do not believe in censorship. I routinely swear like a sailor in front of my kid (who doesn't ever swear as a result, weirdly, not that I'd care). She can watch and read pretty much what she likes, as long as she asks for clarification if she has any questions. I know my way around some fairly gritty areas of the web.
My point is that I'm not opposed to sharing my image and I'm not opposed to seeing the unvarnished images of others. Be who you want to be with me.
At the same time, I'm a professional. I'm a private person. I have a career and a community and I regularly censor my content within my own parameters because I don't want to be entirely knowable to, potentially, every human being on the planet at any time between now and the end of days. At this point, I'm sure some of you are laughing. What about that post you did on childbirth?, you're thinking. In the words of one of my friends: No one on the planet talks more about her boobs than you.
I have my parameters for privacy, as does every other blogger in the land.
Why then am I somewhat conflicted about the modern lingerie blog, that which profiles its writer modeling the latest lingerie and speaking about its relative merits and detractions? This blog-type is reinforced by contests hosted in the UK such as Star in a Bra (I'll let you link to it.) These blogs are legitimately about the undergarments and how they fit. They're also about body image. Many of the modern lingerie bloggers are rather curvy. They speak about the challenges of finding good, and gorgeous, support garments in sizes upwards of 30H. Many are rather sexy. They're young (early 20s); they're sassy. They have large breasts on small frames.
I'm sorry to be the one pointing at the obvious which we may not want to consider as it moves in the direction of infringement on modernity and personal freedom, but there seems no way to show oneself feeling confident and lovely wearing merely a bra and knickers when one is young and one's chest is, relatively speaking, ultra-voluptuous without bordering on a very different genre.
I don't mean to sound like someone's mother but, what about when these women decide to work at a bank or a law firm? It's statistically improbable that every one of them is going to continue in a life of non-conformism. What about when they meet a new guy and they just want to go out on a dinner date? The ubiquitous Google search is really gonna get in the way of that.
On the other hand, it is a kind of public service they're performing (and, arguably, a new kind of performance art form). Imagine being a young woman with large breasts and a small frame and not knowing how the fuck to wear anything and to feel good about how everything goes together given that all images of sexy women, heretofore, have been either in porn (mimicking her body shape) or in fashion modeling (the world of curve artifice, having no bearing on her shape in the least). I have been that woman and it isn't nice. I have also been my own lingerie pioneer lo the last 25 years and it would have been far less lonely to have some sistahs.
Things don't change without invested parties changing them. Many bloggers, such as myself, routinely proclaim the value of well-fitting lingerie and give advice on how to find and wear it. Why shouldn't the next-wave of this information-sharing be more, um, visual? Perhaps I'm responding more to the style of photography than the photography itself? Maybe I'm having my own "When I was a girl, we walked 5 miles in the snow to school..." moment?
I'm choosing not to link to these blogs because I don't want to associate my ambivalence with what they're doing. I know they blog with integrity and in the spirit of promoting good body image. If you're unfamiliar with this style of blog you can check out Fuller Figure Fuller Bust or Invest in Your Chest. There are quite a few of these blogs around right now.
I really would love to engage in debate here. What do you think? Is what you think so clouded by your age and stage that you wonder if it's relevant :-) Would you blog in this way? Do you value the information you can gain from these sites - I sure do.
(Oh, and I guess multiple topics notwithstanding, bra-size is going to have to be the topic of another post...)