"No Thank You, Otto Titzling" by Literary Awards Finalist, Ana Thorne

(This piece also appeared in the Mount Voices Journal published in April 2008 by Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles.)

Somehow I’d connected wearing a bra with a story on television about a young girl with polio in an iron lung. Her hair, head and neck were all that could be seen of the body inside the machine that breathed for her in place of her paralyzed diaphragm. She talked softly, looking up into a mirror placed above her face, but she couldn’t move. If she didn’t recover from the polio, she’d have to stay in the iron lung forever in order to breathe. My mind made an illogical connection. I thought that wearing a bra might be as constrictive as trying to breathe in an iron lung.

I’d never heard the phrase “rites of passage” and in 1960, I was comfortable in my thirteen-year old skin. Dad had taught me and my younger sister how to use our minds and bodies in concert by participation in activities like tap dancing, skating, tennis, badminton, four-square, lawn croquet, and lots of softball.

Like most other girls my age that I knew, I’d sprouted what my best friend Evelyn, who lived next door, called “nubs” that were starting to poke through the white cotton undershirts and underslips that I wore beneath my clothes. To me, the nubs felt like small rocks or hard seeds trying to sprout beneath the then still smooth nipples.

Sometimes I wore two undershirts in an effort to flatten out the protrusions. Other times, I sat and walked with my shoulders hunched forward to hide them. I wore a thick sweater to the dinner table in case Dad checked and decided that wearing a bra would be the proper thing for me to do. In my heart, I knew these tactics would only delay the inevitable.

I didn’t mind that I was getting teenage girl breasts, but unlike my friends, I had no desire to wear a bra. I pictured my mother undressing in her bedroom. The bra she wore during the day left a pattern of red welts that ran across her shoulders, under her breasts and around her back. A larger red square appeared at the spot on her white skin where the bra clasped in back.

In 1968, I was a young wife and new mother, working full-time, nine-to-five. My husband, George, worked as a chemist and devoted his free time to the black revolution. At our house, the events that marked the Civil Rights era took precedence over news about women’s liberation. My general impression was that white women were protesting over the right to work, which was difficult for me to understand.

In the Valley Homes, where I grew up, a less than square mile “colored” Midwestern neighborhood, the mothers of my friends worked. Evelyn’s mother was a social worker; Violet’s mom a nurse. One of my aunts owned a florist shop and three others worked for “private families.”

Mexican accent notwithstanding, mother’s English was good and she was a skilled seamstress and tailor, but dad said, “My wife doesn’t work.” That rule didn’t apply to daughters. When mother left in 1958, I started making pocket money by running errands, babysitting, and writing letters for the neighbors. Dad dated a cook, a housekeeper and a teacher in succession.

In 1968, the libbers protested the Miss America Pageant by emphasizing the garment constraints placed upon our gender and came up with what was in reality a pseudo-fiery symbolic gesture that played all over the news. When the libbers attempted to burn “instruments of torture” like high heels, girdles, garter belts, hair curlers, makeup and bras, they caught my complete attention.

* * * * *

While the bra and women’s lib both possess murky origins, neither breasts, nor women have always been bound. The corset, a forerunner of the brassiere that dates back to 2000 BCE, opened in the front and left the breasts exposed to the elements (Rose). Earlier, around 2500 BCE, a class of Minoan warrior women on the isle of Crete must have wanted to use their breasts as psychological weapons because they wore a “bra-resembling garment” that pushed their breasts up and put them in full view (Rose). I couldn’t verify whether the exposed breast caused their enemies to surrender in fear, or stand down in veneration. These bra-like scenarios feature the breasts rather than trap them in strapped-cups; the image of the female is one of empowerment rather than an other-defined shrinking violet. This would change as the onslaught of organized cities and states acted on both the breast and the woman.

The brassiere situation got tighter long before it became more relaxed. From about 450 BCE to 285 CE, ancient Greek women were forbidden to wear the corset and instead wore the apodesme, a band of wool or linen that wrapped around the breast and tied or pinned in back (Rose). Its primary purpose was to keep the breasts from moving when women walked (Rose). A breast-binding device was also worn by women in Greek city states, such as Sparta, who participated in sports and exercise (Metropolitan Museum). Underneath their tunics, well-endowed Roman women wore the mamillare, copied from the apodesme, to hide a large bosom, while younger girls wore a fascia whose purpose was to prevent and delay breast development (Rose). Modern civilizations began to organize around what would become the western, patriarchal model, and the fight for the rights to the breast was in full sway.

* * * * *

Too self-absorbed to be suspicious when Dad said he wanted to take me shopping, I allowed myself to anticipate that I’d be rewarded for taking care of the responsibilities I had around the house, including the care and feeding of a younger sister and brother. I envisioned a new pair of shoes, a dress, maybe a skirt and blouse.

We picked up Dad’s friend, Mrs. Smith, in the Oldsmobile and drove the twelve miles downtown to Shillito’s, the number one department store in Cincinnati. I got off the escalator on the second floor that was dedicated to clothes and shoes for girls fourteen and under.

Dad said, “One more floor.”

Now I was behind Dad and Mrs. Smith on the escalator. My eyes followed the dark seams of the stockings that ran down her slightly bowed legs into the black high heels she wore with a light gray, straight skirt, and a pink, short-sleeved blouse. She carried a small black, leather pocketbook on her arm. A light blue shirt complemented dad’s tailored dark brown slacks that hung over slightly onto the back of his brown wingtip oxfords. I saw the flexible wire that hung from dad’s plastic earplug and led to the bulky hearing aid encased in a pocket-like contraption that fit on his chest, held in place with straps that ran across his shoulders and around his chest.

I moved to the extreme right on the escalator to see the third floor rise before me. My armpits heated up and started to sweat. Women’s lingerie. Dad and Mrs. Smith walked directly into the racks and shelves of slips, panties, girdles, and bras to the counter in the back where they talked to a white saleslady. The three of them looked in the direction where I stood, between the escalator and a rack of pointed brassieres. The saleslady’s lips moved and her lips curved upwards. She walked straight towards me. I saw that she held something in her hand.

“Why don’t we just take a measurement,” she said as she unraveled the rulered ribbon.

“Measurement of what?” I asked as I folded my arms over my chest.

“Wouldn’t you like to get a nice training bra?”

“No, thank you, ma’am.” I didn’t want to forget my manners at a time like this. I was walking a thin, tricky line. It wouldn’t do me any good to “show out” in Shillito’s.

“Your father said you’re ready for one.”

“No, thank you, ma’am,” I repeated.

She gave me a quick smile and turned back toward Dad and Mrs. Smith. The saleslady was telling on me. Dad looked in my direction. Mrs. Smith put her hand on his shoulder, leaned in close and said something to him. Then she came over near the rack of pointed brassieres where I stood my ground. I knew there could be trouble if I wasn’t careful.

“You might as well face it,” Mrs. Smith began. “You’ll have to wear one sooner or later.”

“OK, later,” I pouted.

“You’ve outgrown those cotton undershirts. You’re starting to show and if you don’t get a bra, pretty soon the boys will say nasty things to you that you won’t like.”

“I don’t care about boys,” I insisted. “I just don’t want a bra.”

“Would you believe me if I said you don’t have a choice?”


“Well, believe it because you’re becoming a young woman, and you’ll have to wear one just like the rest of us.”

“What if I don’t want to be like the rest?”

“We’re all suffering sisters under the skin.”

“What does that mean?”

“You’re finding out right now. Maybe you’ve got the right idea not to rush it, but your father won’t stand for it. He’s determined that you get a bra today.”

* * * * *

In what may be termed misguided efforts at compliance to societal norms that for the most part have been established by men, women have been complicit in the suppression and stylization of their bodies. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, women wore bodices to flatten the breast. Fashion styles such as long, full skirts, high collars, and long sleeves conspired to cover us up from head to toe, and draw attention away from the breast (Rose).

Women have Catherine de Medici to thank for initiating a Machiavellian torture that lasted for three-hundred and fifty years following her demise (Rose). By banning “thick waists” at the Italian Court in about 1550, Catherine forced women to endure the agony of the corset made of “whalebone and steel rod” laces and stays (Rose). Constraints and compression on the trunk of the body forced rearrangement of the internal organs and made the corset a dangerous device (Smith). It rendered the effect of the artificially small waist and by the 1830’s the “hourglass figure” had become the model body shape for a woman (Smith). Fashion conscious, upper class women whose husbands could afford such indulgences, had the two lowest ribs surgically removed to make an even “slimmer waist” (Smith). The old fashioned notion of fainting is believed to have been induced by “corsets and other garments that bound, contorted and restricted the body” (Smith). The fainting woman is surely viewed as a weak woman, ill-equipped to handle the choices that come with liberation. Please, pass the smelling salts.

* * * * *

The tags remained on the four size 28 AAA bras neatly folded and stacked next to the cotton undershirts in the middle dresser drawer. Even though the AAA cups of plain white cotton with no padding were the smallest size available in the training bra, they were too large for my rocks. At first, I managed to evade Dad’s watchful eyes in the mornings before I left for school wearing an undershirt. For a while, I got away with explaining that it wasn’t necessary to wear a bra at home just to do homework and wash dinner dishes. I was wearing my undershirts on borrowed time.

Evelyn and I walked home together after school as usual. Earlier she’d teased that she had something funny to tell me, and I was excited to hear it.

“I’ve got a new song for you,” she said.

“What is it?”

“You know that song Brazil that your Dad plays on the hi-fi sometimes?”

“Yeah, I know which one you mean.”

“Well, listen to this.”

Evelyn burst into song. She spread her arms wide, danced in circles and clapped her hands. “Brassieres, they’ve got a million down at Sears. They’re hanging from the chandeliers, with dirty fingerprints and smears. Brassieres at Sears. If you’re the watermelon type, they’ve got ‘em big and round and ripe, or if your busts are very small, or if you have no busts at all, the falsies really fit right in. They look and feel and taste like skin, taste like skin, taste like skin. Brassieres at Sears. Brassieres at Sears.”

Tears ran down my face and I fell out in laughter on the small stretch of grass between the sidewalk and the curb. I barely heard the end of the song. “Where’d you get that?” I choked out.

“My big cousin, Ada, sang it for me and I wrote it down and memorized the words.”

“That’s a great idea.”

We stopped and sat on the curb while I wrote down the brassiere song in my notebook, line by line. We sang it several times before we reached home. The “taste like skin, taste like skin” part was sung sotto voce and proved a little tricky, but I finally mastered it. Old Lady Henderson was sweeping her front steps when we passed her house singing at the top of our voices.

“Hello, girls,” she said.

We waved, but didn’t stop singing. When I got home, I folded the piece of notebook paper on which I’d written the words to the brassiere song and tucked it beneath the stack of AAA’s.

* * * * *

The French women of the nineteenth century took a stand against the “iron maiden.” They demanded more comfortable intimate garments than that offered by the “trussed and bound look of the corsets of the day” (Marples). Women’s undergarments loosened up and abandoned the “bones, eyelets, laces or pulleys” associated with the corset (nzgirl). From 1875 to 1913, several new designs and developments created the foundation for the modern bra. Former corset manufacturers designed “bra-like garments” that supported the breasts from the shoulders, offered “separate pockets for each breast” and introduced “hook and eye closures” (Rose). These updated designs allowed for a more satisfying and secure fit for the wool falsies and rubber pads called “lemon bosoms” that came into fashion. In answer to the challenge from the female public, designers and manufacturers have registered more than twelve-hundred “patents of breast supporters” with the U.S. Patent Office since 1863 (Marples).

Vogue first used the word “brassiere” in the magazine in 1907, and the term made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary five years later (nzgirl). The following year, with help from her maid, Marie, a New York socialite fashioned the “first modern bra to be patented” (nzgirl). Mary Phelps Jacob simply refused to wear a heavy corset underneath a “new, sheer evening gown” and from a couple of silk handkerchiefs and a few strands of ribbon created a “backless bra” that all her friends wanted (nzgirl). Even though Jacob patented her creation in 1914, she had no interest in being a businesswoman and sold the patent for $1,500 to Warner Brothers Corset Company who made $15 million on the backless design over the next thirty years (Marples). In protest to the Flapper Era that featured the “boyish look” maintained by a “chest-flattening bra,” Ida Rosenthal went into business with her husband to establish what would become the $40 million Maidenform Company (Marples). Ida developed the idea of cup sizing – A, B, C, D – and realized she could “market bras to girls and women of every age, from puberty to maturity” (Marples). The bra began to wield its own particular brand of sexual empowerment and the personal disempowerment that accompanies typecasting. Thanks to the innovative thinking of women like Jacob and Rosenthal, the bra would become a symbolic contradiction.

* * * * *

“I think there’s trouble,” Evelyn said over the phone.

“What kind?” I asked.

“The Old Lady Henderson kind. She’s over here talking to my mama right now.”

“What do you think?”

“It can only be the ‘brassieres at Sears.’”

“Oh, crap, that IS trouble.”

“Gotta go. Bye.” Evelyn hung up.

I finished my homework and resumed reading the book that I’d been forbidden to read – My Wicked, Wicked Ways, an autobiography of Errol Flynn the movie star. When I heard Dad coming up the stairs, I stashed the book under the mattress. He tapped on the door to my room and came in. He kept up a line of questioning as he walked toward the dresser.

“Finished your homework?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” I answered.

“How was school today?”

“Just the usual.”

“Didn’t learn anything new?”

“I learned the difference between the words ‘adorned’ and ‘bedecked.’”

“How so?” Dad leaned against the dresser, resting on one hand.

“Sister Jean Elizabeth returned our descriptive essays. Mine was about the circus parade where I’d described the elephants as adorned with colorful garments. Sister changed adorned to bedecked, in red ink.”

My explanation had bought me about twenty seconds.

“How are those new bras working out?”

“They’re OK.”

“Do you have one on now?”

“No. It’s after school. I don’t need it now.”

Dad leaned over, opened the middle dresser drawer and scanned its contents. He picked up the small stack of unworn bras and with them the piece of paper with the words to the song. Right then it came to me that I’d have to listen to a lecture from Dad about how those words were a greater sin than not wearing the AAA’s. He walked over to the small desk, took the scissors out of the drawer, and handed them to me.

“Cut the tags off these bras and put one on. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Mrs. Smith was right. No choice. I cut off the tags, discarded my undershirt, and put on the AAA cups. I understood what she meant when she said that we’re all suffering sisters under the skin as soon as I fit the eyes into the hooks, turned the cups around to the front, and pulled the straps onto my shoulders.

* * * * *

Once women escaped from the strictures of the corset, the brassiere, from the French for “undershirt … underbodice or harness,” became simply the “bra” in the 1930’s (Marples). Pre-Madonna, Lana Turner symbolized the “sweater girl” look in Hollywood movies that featured “pointed rigid bras” that kept their shape no matter what rested in their cups (Rose). Manufacturers began to make bras out of synthetic materials when WWII shortages made cotton, rubber, silk and steel hard to get (Rose). The 1950’s brought a new trend in bras that mounted women’s breasts into exaggerated and unnatural cup contours.

Today, women have choices and can select the bra or breast that best fits their lifestyle or the occasion. We can choose the strapless or backless bra, the sports bra, the maternity bra, the nursing bra, the full-figure bra, the training bra, and the push-up Wonder Bra (Marples). Victoria’s Secret and like marketers have transformed the bra into a scintillating and alluring garment intended to attract the opposite sex. The right size and color with a sheer lacy design is guaranteed to be a turn on. If Mother Nature has fallen down on her job, the medical profession has picked up the slack. While husbands and others no longer pay to have ribs removed, they do pay for surgical breast implants for wives and others. Thanks to the libbers, modern women now have the resources to pay for the breasts of their choice.

* * * * *

By junior year in high school, I’d stopped looking for reasons not to wear the bra and my undershirts were used as dust rags to polish the furniture. I’d grown to a size 34AA and was strapped into the same pointed bra worn by all the other girls. With the help of Mrs. Smith and Evelyn, I survived the onset of menses and learned how to handle the monthly task. I wore pointed-toed high heels with seamless stockings held up by a garter belt. I pin-curled and put my hair in rollers. I painted my face with eyeliner, rouge, mascara, and lipstick.

Senior year, I gave my virginity to Lucas Conley after the homecoming football game in the roomy back seat of his father’s 1956 green and white Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Lucas pressed and squeezed the spongy cups of my bra, but he didn’t seem interested in either seeing or fondling the tissue mass that lived inside.

President Kennedy was assassinated. I hoped to go to college.

* * * * *

Medical anthropologists, Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, say that “breast disease is only a problem in cultures where women wear bras.” They include breast cancer in a class of “culturogenic” diseases that can be traced to “damaging personal attitudes, biases, and habits promoted by the culture.” A number of culturogenic diseases fall into three causal categories – “too tight, too flat, and/or too uncomfortable.” The bra as an “invention, not a need” falls into the “too tight” class (breastsite).

Industries profit from such diseases and become invested in the continuance of “damaging lifestyles and/or their consequences” (Singer). A growing, billion-dollar industry, U.S. bras sales totaled $15 million in 2001 (Mintel). Breast cancer “claimed the lives of 4,226” women in California in 2001; for the same year, the “total direct costs of breast cancer … were $279 million” in California (Max).

Environmental and hereditary evidence notwithstanding, minor and major physical hazards exist for women who wear a bra for twelve hours or more each day. Bras with narrow straps that are too tight can cause “nagging headaches” from pressure put on the trapezius muscle (Health Watch). The headaches can be banished and the problem easily resolved by wearing a bra with wider, looser straps, and full-figured women “should avoid spaghetti straps on bras” altogether (Health Watch). The bra promotes heat buildup in the breast, overheating can cause organ damage and could create a higher risk for cancer (Smith). As a binding device, the bra “interferes” with “circulation within the breast” as it alters the shape of the breast by applying pressure to the “soft breast tissue” (Singer). Bras and other kinds of tight clothing can impede the flow of the lymphatic system that drains toxins from breast tissue (Smith). If toxic substances are “trapped in the breast,” breast cancer could develop as a “result of cutting off lymphatic drainage” (Smith). Isn’t that reason enough to “wear bras as little as possible,” or not at all (Smith)?

* * * * *

I was a slim, young thing before pregnancy and the birth of my son in 1968. The twenty pregnancy pounds I’d gained had disappeared by the time I’d come home from the hospital and I was back in a size five in no time. While I didn’t go so far as to attempt natural childbirth and forgo the standard saddle block, I did read Dr. Spock on breastfeeding and decided to give it a try. Dr. Spock advised that breastfeeding was beneficial to the newborn because it provided certain immunities important to good infant health. Breastfeeding also acted positively on the mother’s body. It delayed the resumption of menses, helped in the process of losing excess pregnancy weight, and caused the uterus to contract and regain its natural muscle tone more quickly.

I’m not sure who enjoyed breastfeeding more, me or my son. He suckled with intensity and delight, making loud smacking noises until he drifted off to sleep. I felt the strong contractions in my uterus during feeding times. My son’s toothless little mouth made a warm home for, and provided just the right amount of pressure on my stove pipe hat shaped nipples and areola to make the experience sensual.

For ten months I wore a nursing bra night and day, twenty-four, seven. It was a soft, wide-strapped, lightly padded affair whose cup flaps pulled down for quick and easy access. Pleasure aside, breastfeeding came with a set of requirements the first of which was a large supply of nursing pads. The slightest touch set off the flow of milk and sometimes I wore two pads to absorb the leaking. The hospital staff advised that the most important thing was to keep the nipple clean and free of dried-up milk and germs. This meant sanitizing the nipple, areola and surrounding area with warm, soapy water and allow the breasts to air dry after each feeding. It also meant having at least a dozen more expensive nursing bras to be sure a clean one was always available.

My first outing without the baby came about ten weeks following birth. George and I went to an evening performance at Playhouse in the Park. While he parked the car, four male strangers, one at a time, came over to talk to me as I stood waiting in an area right outside the theatre entrance. They each stared at the 40BB cups that resided on my hundred pound, five-foot three frame, and not at me. I recall one bold fellow said, “I saw you coming around the corner.” New to this kind of attention, I told George what had transpired and he explained in pantomime by cupping his hands under both my breasts. I felt milk spill into the nursing pads, but I didn’t worry because I had extras in my purse. We laughed and went into the theatre.

* * * * *

The single largest myth that exists about the bra is that it will prevent sagging breasts in old age. Dr. Susan Love emphasizes that “you sag because of the proportion of fat and tissue in your breasts, and no bra changes that” (Smith). Doctors agree that age and pregnancy “will naturally cause your breasts to sag” and that there is “no medical reason to wear a bra” (Smith). Drs. Gregory and Claire Heigh agree that “going bra-free can actually cause breasts to sag less” (Smith). They explain that the chest muscles and ligaments can atrophy from “lack of use” because they are “worked less when breasts are supported and confined in a bra” (Smith). The doctors add that when breast weight is borne by “the chest muscles and ligaments … muscle tone returns” (Smith).

* * * * *

All the family came over to celebrate my son’s first birthday. He had a couple of teeth and had been weaned off the teat and onto the bottle. The nursing bras were stashed away in a box along with the maternity clothes. With their milk dried up, my breasts went down to a 32B cup, still larger than they were when the pregnancy began.

I had been a suffering sister now for nine years and felt that as a young adult, wife and mother, it was time to address the bra burning issue brought up by the libbers. The decision to wear a bra was made under parental duress. I had a perfect right to reject the idea of being held in harness. After all, it was the Free Love ‘60’s. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll prevailed. Who would mind or care if I joined the small percentage of women who were shelving their bras?

I broached the subject with my husband. In addition to the sweet smell that defined him, I married him because I thought he was smart and a free-thinker. He didn’t disappoint me now and said I should decide for myself.

When I abandoned the bra altogether a few days later, I wasn’t aware that I was also relieving myself of the concern over the health issues associated with wearing a bra. At thirteen, I resisted the bra for reasons that were unclear at the time, unless you count the iron lung connection. Now, I decided that I just didn’t want to wear a bra and if I had to burn in hell for it, so be it. The devil be damned.

* * * * *

A woman’s decision to “wear or not wear” a bra focuses on “aesthetics,” emotions, or social pressures (Smith). However, built-in contradictions make the line between bra and braless a tight one to negotiate. On one hand, a braless woman is suspected of “trying to make a sexual statement,” or of “being promiscuous” (Smith). On the other hand, bras and other fashion styles are designed to be “sexually alluring.”

Based on male sexual attitudes, the societal ideal requires women’s breasts to “remain in their firm, uplifted attitude, on their own, for our entire lives” (Smith). The feminists may have had good intentions in the ‘60’s about burning the bra, even though the majority of women and young girls continued to purchase and wear bras. Who would want the job of trying to convince the small-breasted woman to abandon her push-up bra, or the large-breasted woman to abandon the bra that adequately hefts her girls day in and day out in varying degrees of dis/comfort?

* * * * *

A few months ago I was shopping to go on a cruise at the expense and invitation of my ex-husband with whom I had kept close contact, even though we lived on separate coasts and had been divorced more than thirty years. I’d vacationed alone for years in the Caribbean and thought I’d try something different. I knew that sharing a cabin with a balcony view on the Lido Deck with my ex would be a brother/sister affair. We’d be on a large ship with a couple thousand other people, a few of whom we’d dine with for seven nights.

Old tapes played in my head. The phrase “public decorum” ran through my thoughts. Would people stare at me without a bra? What would they think? After all, we were both older. He’s bald, walks with a limp from an arthritic hip, and is a non- proselytizing born-again Christian. I’ve gone from a size five to fourteen and color the gray in my hair every six weeks. I found myself in Macy’s lingerie department inquiring about the softest, most comfortable bra available. The saleslady was busy folding panties on a table.

“Hello,” I said. “I haven’t bought a bra in almost forty years and I have no idea what size I am.”

She looked up from the panties, peered at me over the rim of her glasses and scanned my bosom in less than two seconds. “Thirty-eight C,” she said without doubt or hesitation.

She brought several bras in several colors to the dressing room. They fit around my upper body, but my breasts didn’t entirely fill the cups which caused them to collapse a bit in the center. I tried on a lacy, red one that felt itchy on my breasts. The plain, bouncy, beige one cut into my underarms. The hooks on the lightly padded, white one dug into my back. The black one looked sexy, but the front under-binding was scratchy and irritating. I had flashbacks of the previous summer when I tried on six swimsuits in thirty minutes in a tiny dressing room just like this one. My forehead was perspiry. I sat down in the dressing room and cooled off before I took the bras back to the saleslady.

“Did everything fit?” she asked.

“In some places, but not in others,” I answered.

Public decorum be damned.


Barroso Ary. Discography Tables for Aquarela Do Brasil. 21 September 2007.

The Breast Site. 21 September 2007.

Health Watch. Women’s Health: Bra Straps. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. 21 September 2007.

History of the Bra. 19 September 2007.

Marples, Gareth. The History of the Bra. 19 September 2007. http://www.thehistoryof.net/the-histtory-of-the-bra.html>.

Max, Wendy, PhD. The Cost of Breast Cancer in California. California Breast Cancer Research Program. 21 September 2007.

Metropolitan Museum: Ancient Greek Dress. 27 September 2007. < http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/grdr/hd_grdr.htm_27>.

Mintel International Group Ltd. Bras and Pants. 2001, 2005. 27 September 2007.

Rose, Jenelle. The History of the Bra. 19 September 2007.

Singer, Sydney Ross and Soma Grismaijer. The Self Study Center. 21 September 2007.

Smith, Ken L. The Purpose of the Bra. 21 September 2007.

Ana Thorne is student, grant writer and grandmother who will complete a Masters in Humanities Program in May 2008, and a Creative NonFiction Writing program at Antioch University in LA in December 2008. She’s a late bloomer academically and creatively, but she’s having fun applying life lessons in the classroom and on paper.


  1. Susan Cushman

    I really enjoyed this essay, especially the mix of “scenes” with background info… artfully done. I’m working on a memoir which uses clothing as its narrative structure, so I found your reflections on bras funny and believable. (One chapter of my memoir is called “Girl Scouts and Training Bras.”)Oh, and what a great closing! Keep writing!

  2. Mrs. E. Perkins

    This is the first time in many years that I have read something so insightful. Ms. Thorne’s research is extensive, and her words so descriptive. They bring back memories to all of us in what I assume is her age group (the baby boomers). Late bloomer? Good for her, seems like she rippened well. Hope to hear more from Ms. Thorne!


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