Whilst the neat hourglass is considered the most perfect and balanced body shape, in reality many women are apple or pear shaped: not so much hourglass as wine glass or flower vase. Looking at what female body shapes have been considered most desirable over the centuries is hugely reassuring: whatever your figure, be it voluptuous Rubenesque or skinny heroin chic, at one time in history it was what everyone wanted.
Confronted by today’s bewildering array of lingerie styles, you may be surprised to know that bra cup sizing was only introduced in the 1920s. Is it only me who finds bra shopping both baffling and ignominious? Do I need a backless, strapless, high impact push up balcony model? Oh wait, should it be plunge or crossover, spacer or multiway? Actually I think I need a drink!
Hoping to gain confidence in all things supportive, I headed to one major retailer which offered free bra measuring. I strode purposefully into my nearest large branch. ‘Oh,’ uttered the sales assistant, when I announced that I would like to be measured. ‘I’ll just get a tape measure’. She bustled back, measure in hand, calling out: ‘Arms up’. I did as instructed. The only surprise to me was that I was still wearing my duffle coat at the time. I gloss over any questions of accuracy and bask in her findings: a D cup at last, thanks to sturdy wool with toggles down the front.
In 1940 the bullet or torpedo bra heralded conical bosoms. Anyone who has watched Thoroughly Modern Millie will remember the scene when her conical bra pops undone, catapulting her torpedoes forward to her astonished companion. With the advent of Playboy and Barbie in the 1950s, women became large chested and tiny waisted, encouraged to swell themselves with Wate On. Predictably, along came Weight Watchers to reverse the process in the 60s, when twig like androgeny became de rigueur.
Today we’ve either dieted ourselves to dizziness or shaken our booty like J Lo: both super skinny and plus size models are hugely successful. The No Bra bra gives a more natural look while the latest innovation, a vibrating bra, is guaranteed to increase chest size. Devised by a Serbian security guard, it’ll suit wishful thinkers just fine. My guess is he’ll get richer while our assets stay the same.
As Tina Fey wrote in Bossypants, “Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits.” Simples!
Sadly yours truly has a figure that is more pint glass then hourglass, but hey, give it time and I might become a fashion icon. I live in hope.
Patience Wellbeing, Plastic Surgery Blogger