This month is breast cancer awareness month, and it just so happens that I realised that I had a bunch of bra-related anecdotes to share, and now seemed like a good time. So here are a series of vignettes on bra-related incidents.

Breast Awareness Week

My mother was on a TV quiz show a few years ago. It was one where about a week’s worth of shows were filmed all in one day. It was done very fast, with no stopping for minor slip-ups. The lovely hostess was meant to announce that it was breast cancer awareness month, but instead said it was “breast awareness month”. She corrected herself, and that mistake ended up on the show when it was screened.

Ha ha ha

When I was about 13 my brother used to tease me with “Ha ha ha. Robyn’s got a bra.” and I’d scream out “I HAVE NOT!”.

Silicon Valley

I was having a look around in a department store at lunchtime and wandered over to the underwear department. In what could best be described as the new releases section, was a new Elle McPherson bra from Bendon. It looked like a fairly ordinary bra, but it was called “Silicon Valley”.

It seemed like a really strange name for a bra. Normally if bras are going to be named after a place it’ll be somewhere fairly exotic and European like Capri or Venice. It seemed really odd to be naming a bra after a place known for its geekiness.

I did the usual bra inspection, which consisted of feeling the material that the cup was made of, as one does not want to wear a bra that’s made from a scratchy fabric.

Just to digress here, once I was helping a friend of mine buy a birthday present for his girlfriend. He was really uncomfortable being in the women’s underwear department and just wanted to pick something – anything – and leave. For the first time it occurred to me how women’s underwear and men’s underwear are so different. I sometimes amuse myself checking out the Lion Red y-fronts at K-Mart, but if a man were to do that in the women’s section, he’d probably be escorted from the premises.

So back to the Silicon Valley bra. The bra inspection gave me a fright. Instead of getting a handful of normal bra, I found myself grabbing a handful of fabric-encased goo. Yes, there was a great wacking glob of something squishy sewn in in the bra.

What was going on here? Were Earth women so desperate for a bit more cleavage that they were prepared to buy a bra with a sac of goobly, squishy stuff at the bottom?

The bra came with a tag that had a few questions and answers (and how many bras come with a FAQ?). According to it the squishy stuff was “non toxic white medical oil”. (Hey, does that mean you could make your own Silicon Valley bras at home with some olive oil, plastic bags and sticky tape?)

The FAQ also said that if the bras are cared for correctly the oil sacs will not break, but they may burst if poked with a sharp object. So if your boyfriend has a pierced nipple, you’d better watch out, or there’ll be tears.

Thinking about the bra’s purpose, the name starts to fit. It suggests that by wearing a Silicon Valley bra, your bosom will resemble that off a woman who’s had silicon implants. And perhaps also that rather than resembling a plateau, your bust will be more like two mountains with a valley running through them. But the computer geek connection is still there (for me at least) and that just ruins it.

The whole thing is just a bit creepy. Any woman who would wear a bra with a bunch of oil in it seems a bit sad and desperate. Padded bras have been around for about as long as the bra itself, but there just seems something really tragic about these wobbly oil bras.

Bra Theft Confession

My Dad used to have this apartment in Auckland where he’d stay when he was working there. Once when he was there a woman knocked on his door asking him if he’d taken her “very expensive Elle McPherson bra” from the communal laundry room. He hadn’t. Then a bit later my friend and I were staying there one weekend and we wrote a poem from a fictitious man who was apologising for taking the bra, and we stuck it up on the wall in the laundry room. It went like this:

Ha de ha de ha,
I found a bra.
I found it with my clothes,
How it got there no one knows.
It looked at it on the table,
It had an Elle McPherson label.
I did it up the back,
The seams went “crack”.
My heart was filled with despair!
I’ve wrecked your underwear!
By corry horry,
I’m come to say sorry.