Celebrity D Cup and Up List: Rachel Bloom

Thanks to a link on Already Pretty last May, I discovered Rachel Bloom’s big bust in this video from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in which Rachel plays the main character Rebecca Bunch. The song is really funny, and there’s a lot that Hourglassy readers can relate to, but ultimately I felt it was a ploy to captivate male viewers. That’s what happens when you watch a video out of context!

A few months later on a friend’s recommendation, my husband started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I wasn’t interested in watching with him until he observed, “You know, sometimes the star’s breasts seem really big, and other times they aren’t noticeable at all.” How could I resist sitting down to study Rebecca Bunch after that?

As a study in how to dress big boobs, Rebecca Bunch is all over the place. For any given scene, the costume designer spins a wheel, and you never know what style Rebecca is going to land on.  In fact, I’d rather have Rebecca’s hair than her wardrobe. This interview with Melina Root explains why.

Her style? She has a lot of money and doesn’t know how to express herself. She wears straight ahead business clothes in New York and when she moves they become more casual dresses and separates. She’s not stylish; she’s not a fashion plate. She has a hard time working around clothes. She always gets it a little wrong.

Instead of feeling critical of Rebecca, I relate. And I’m pretty sure any reader who has ever struggled to find her style while working to fit a big bust can also relate. Sometimes a girl wants to be Clare Underwood, but all she can find to wear is Nigella Lawson.

Since Rebecca’s style goes everywhere on the show, there’s something for everyone to love and hate. First up is the one style sold as a must-have to all busty women everywhere: wraps. Even a comedy star has to pin her wraps closed!

rachel bloom big bust wrap styles-002

Next, a roundup of work wear options appropriate for a busty woman in a conservative office. I want to know where the costume designer found a blazer that would button over Rebecca’s chest!

[Read more…]

Off the Rack ~ Feminism Isn’t a Four-Letter Word but Modesty Should Be

This week, a number of big bust bloggers decided to tackle the topic of modesty en masse (see end of post for links). I’ve been really looking forward to writing this post, as I am a feminist and have quite strong opinions about the topic. Please note that this post comes with a serious trigger warning. I will be discussing how the concept of modesty is problematic as well as how it relates to women’s ownership of their bodies, slut-shaming, and rape culture. Here we go!

Let’s start with an anecdote from my high school years. A public school without much funding located in an old building, the school did not have air conditioning (third-world conditions, I know). Additionally, most of the teachers refused to leave the classroom doors open to allow for a cross-breeze with open windows, since the halls were usually noisy even between classes. The city in which I grew up doesn’t get that hot, but during summer, including at least a few weeks at the tail end and beginning of the school year, the temperature can hit the mid-80s and 90s. So you can imagine that the school was very hot and stuffy.

With no a/c and not a breeze in sight, most students opted to wear less clothing in order to cope with the heat. Both boys and girls wore shorts and tank tops. Then the school issued new guidelines that girls were not allowed to have visible bra straps, their tanks had to have straps at least three fingers wide, and shorts had to reach past your fingertips when standing up straight. Sometimes girls who didn’t comply were actually sent home to change. Never mind that the boys wife-beater tanks were only two fingers wide and basically see-through, and that most of them were sagging their pants so low you could see five inches of underwear. Nope, the guidelines applied to girls’ clothing only.

In the US, similar stories have been making the news in recent months. A Petaluma, CA middle school held a mandatory assembly for just the female students to announce that leggings were being banned because they distract boys. A Readington Township, NJ school required all dresses at a school dance have at least one strap.

This is my problem with the concept of modesty: It is a construct that is literally only ever applied to women.

Why do women need to be odest while it’s okay for a man to walk around in public in a nipple-baring tank or even completely shirtless, with his pants falling off his ass? It’s because only women’s naked skin is sexual or deviant, so it must be covered up.

The idea of modesty is just another way to force women to relinquish control of their own bodies. Our bodies are treated as inherently sexual, no matter how young, innocent, or naive we may be. Many of my fellow bosom bloggers have stories of developing early and having little understanding of what was happening, yet being called sluts by peers just for having large breasts.

Further, women’s bodies are treated as public property. People have no compunction with commenting on a complete stranger’s body (see my previous post). Men feel entitled to catcall women on the street, as if our bodies are just there for them to appreciate and/or critique.

So when someone demands that women cover up for the sake of modesty, it’s another way to reduce women’s bodily autonomy. It’s a way of saying that women are sex objects whether we like it or not and it’s saying that we don’t have the right to dress in the way that makes us most comfortable. We must dress (and sometimes even act) in a way that agrees with someone else’s personal preferences and sensibilities.

Worse, even though women are treated as sexual objects from pubescence onward, we’re not actually supposed to embrace sexuality. Things like purity balls and modesty pledges reinforce the fact that while men are allowed to think of us as sexual beings with impunity, in practice we’re actually supposed to remain pure. Sure, men can gallivant around town with whomever they please, but women should remain chaste.

Further, with the hypersexualization of women’s bodies by outside forces, you end up with alarming things like the following list of helpful suggestions currently making the rounds on Facebook:

Ignoring for a moment the complete lack of sense that number 1 makes (I have sweatshirts that are hard to get into due to a tight neckholee–is that immodest?), number 3 is incredibly irresponsible. It’s essentially saying that if you have big boobs or a big ass or, hell, have a prosthetic foot, and someone notices that before looking at your face (completely likely in a group setting or when you’re all the way across the room from the looker), then you are immodest. Regardless of what you’re wearing or what you’re doing, your body is inherently obscene just by dint of being a woman’s body.

It’s also completely stripping the looker of any responsibility for his or her own behavior. If someone leers at your breasts, or any part of your body, then that person is a rude creep, plain and simple. Number 3 up on that list implies that the person being looked at is responsible for the behavior of the looker. It’s saying that the lookee has the ability to control the urges and behavior of the looker simply by dressing the right way.

This is where you get into some really dangerous territory. Things like this are exactly what feed the beast that is rape culture. If the lookee has the ability to control the behavior of the looker, then it implies that a woman who dresses immodestly is essentially inviting trouble. She’s not doing everything in her power to keep from being assaulted. How many times have you heard a version of the phrase “What did she expect would happen dressed like that?” when a sex crime makes the news?

When the concept of modesty is applied strictly to women, it absolves men of any responsibility for their behavior. If the idea that men can’t control themselves around a woman in a skimpy outfit is perpetuated, then it puts all the onus on the woman to avoid being sexually assaulted. It insinuates that the only thing keeping a man from raping a woman is the length of her skirt/the cut of her blouse (which is frankly pretty insulting toward men).

Even more damaging, this idea that immodesty is related to sexual assault completely disregards the fact that sexual assault is a crime not of lust but of power; it ignores the fact that the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows; and it downplays the abusive experiences of people who are not considered conventionally sexy, such as children, seniors, prisoners, and the mentally handicapped, as well as the experiences of men who have been victimized. Most sexual assaults are not committed by a random stranger prowling the streets at night. None are committed by adults who are simply overcome with lust.

So, what now? I’m hardly suggesting that dressing modestly is a problem per se. If a woman (or a man) prefers to dress in a way that does not highlight the body, then there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s the person’s own personal decision. Even in my world, there is a time and place for everything. I wouldn’t wear a short skirt or plunging neckline to meet a new client, but I sure would strolling the streets of Manhattan on a hot summer day or going on a date with my boyfriend.

But there is something wrong with a person taking his or her own definition of modesty and attempting to force it upon others, particularly when that definition is only applied to women. More importantly, it’s unethical and just factually wrong to assume that anyone who’s assaulted while not following those modesty guidelines was “asking for it”.

Modesty is a concept that needs to stop being applied strictly to girls and women, and really needs to be left out of sexual assault discourse. No clothing, however much or however little, should be tied to a person’s value as a human being.

For more perspectives on modesty, check out the rest of the Bosom Bloggers’posts. The links go directly to the modesty post if it’s been published, otherwise it links to the blog’s home page:

Braless in Brasil
Bras and Body Image
By Babys Rules
Contrary Kiwi
Fussy Busty (1)
Fussy Busty (2)
Hourglassy (Abreast Abroad)
Hourglassy (Corporate Curves Report)
Hourglassy (Darlene)
Miss Underpinnings
Nothing Ever Fits and Nobody Sympathizes
Red Hair and Girly Flair
Sophia Jenner
Sophisticated Pair
That Bra Does Not Fit Her
The Tit Rambler
Thin and Curvy
Two Cakes on a Plate
Weirdly Shaped & Well Photographed

The Modesty Panel, May 13-17

For the last ten months, a group of us who blog about breasts and proper bra fit have begun calling ourselves the Bosom Bloggers and discussing various topics that come up in the course of our blogging. One subject that keeps surfacing is modesty. After it’s raised, at least one of us will say, “I need to blog about that someday . . . ,” usually followed by one of several reasons not to:

  • “. . . but it’s such a complex subject.”
  • “. . .but it’s so personal.”
  • “. . .but I don’t have time.”
  • “. . .but I don’t want to alienate anyone.”

Despite our reasons for avoiding the subject, we know it’s an important one. After all, even if we don’t write about it directly, each of us has experiences, beliefs and assumptions about modesty that influence how we blog about breasts. So this week we’re taking the plunge and exploring the subject from a variety of perspectives. For this discussion, we’re calling ourselves The Modesty Panel. Look for posts about modesty here and on the following blogs that represent just a fraction of the other fabulous Bosom Bloggers.

Boosaurus     BralessinBrasil     BrasandBodyImage     ByBabysRules     ContraryKiwi     CurvyHK    DressingCurves   FussyBusty1  FussyBusty2    MissUnderpinnings   NothingEverFitsandNobodySympathizes  ObsessedwithBreasts     RedHairandGirlyFlair     SophiaJenner    SophisticatedPair      ThatBraDoesNotFitHer    TheTitRambler    ThinandCurvy     TwoCakesonaPlate   WeirdlyShapedandWellPhotographed    Undiegamer

Corporate Curves Report: Aspirational Style?

Marketing to corporate career women is an issue I’ve wondered about for some time because of the general look and feel that the ad photos are meant to portray. There seems to be a view that embracing femininity and empowering a female persona equals looking sexy. I see a lot of pouts and big sexy bed hair and almost bare skin.

I believe that while subtle, classy sexiness is perfectly fine even in the workplace,  in-your-face sexiness doesn’t work.  It wouldn’t work for men either, so this has nothing to do with men telling us how to look credible in the workplace or that we need to conform to their thinking. Because the media has over-sexualized women’s bosoms, this is even more important to remember for bustier career women. It’s not just the men whose perspective of a busty woman is altered when she  puts out a deliberately sexy image. It’s also the perspective of her female co-workers. With other women, it’s not an issue of envy. It’s just about what is classy and credible in the office.

I’m demonstrating this topic with some ads for bags. Some look very aspirational to my work persona and some too tacky, sexy or edgy. All the bags look amazing though!

I find this Michael Kors ad amazing and very aspirational. It’s too fancy for my normal life, but I would want to aspire to be this classy.

Chloe. This ad’s simplicity and calm is beautiful, and the eye is drawn to the main thing, the gorgeous bag.

Zara. This is not actually an ad but if it were, I would like this sort of an ad for a bag. It’s stylish. Although this particular combo is a bit too edgy for my workplace, I’m liking the monochrome look in general.

Graceship. These laptop bags are simply amazing, but this ad is unrealistic. In general, people who need laptop bags don’t go to work looking like this. It’s too sexed up.

Calvin Klein. There is just something so classy about a sleek black and white photo. Yet the eye is drawn to the bag. Sexy but in a very classy way.

Sure there are industries like the media, entertainment and other creative fields where the norms are a bit different. But this is true for both genders. In more conservative settings, let’s not forget that men often must wear a suit or at least a suit jacket and a shirt, and they are not given any options. So it’s not just women who need to conform to the corporate cultures. We at least have more choice than men!

Brands often put out an image to support their aspirational goals. If the target market is business women, it’s tricky to find the proper level of sexiness that is still aspirational but not over the top. This is especially true for global marketers because cultural norms also become a factor. In the USA, even a domestic brand faces cultural norms in this area.