Monday, July 6, 2015

Ruby Needs to Know: Do You Remember Training Bras?

Welcome Ruby Gold, guest blogger. Ruby lives in a small town in Indiana. Lately, she's taken to blogging to try to understand her niece, the universe, and how she can get a good pastrami sandwich in rural Indiana.
When my ten-year-old niece wanted a training bra (she begged for a hot pink strappy thing to cover her breast buds), I shrieked. “A training bra! For Pete's sake, why do your boobies need to be trained? I mean, c'mon! What are they going to do compete in the Olympics to see which ones stay up the highest and the longest? I hope you're not planning to show them someday to Hugh Hefner, heaven forbid!”
She told me I was nuts, which she does at least twice a day, and which I may very well be. Que sera sera!
But, seriously, who ever invented training bras to begin with? And really, please, please, can anyone tell me what is their mission?
Like many other weary aunties, I turned to the modern day Guide for the Perplexed: Google. And I found the aboutparenting web site. Here's what it had to say: “A training bra helps protect the nipple from chafing against clothes. A training bra also helps give the girls a flattering shape.” Protect the nipples from chafing? Tell me, women of the world, who out there has ever suffered from chafed prepubescent nipples?
If you have, I'm very sorry and hope that they've healed.
But, excuse me for pointing out the obvious, men have nipples and most of them aren't wearing bras!
Then, the article goes on to say: “A training bra is necessary when a girl begins to develop, as girls may be teased about their changing bodies.” Ha! That's the clincher, I thought. Women of the world, who has ever been teased about their changing body? I see millions of hands going up around the globe waving, madly.
Okay, that's sad. But the article gets sadder: “A training bra does not train the breasts, rather it helps girls adjust to wearing a bra and it provides a small amount of shaping and protection.” Well, so that's it, huh, we're training girls to be adjusted to the life-long discomfort of bra wearing. Think wires sticking under your boobs. Please don't tell me the wires are more comfortable when they're padded. Or that brassieres are a joy to wear when they have straps digging into your shoulders. Think of all the ways these boob contraptions can drive a woman berserk. Scratchy lace ones. Silly snappy spandex ones. Madonna's cone bra. Thin ones, padded ones, ones to shape, mold, and lift like your breasts are aching to take off and orbit to outer space.
Remember the girdle? Yeah, glad we got rid of those!
Bra burners of the world where have ye gone? So I wrote to Gloria Steinem to see if women were still burning bras. She didn't answer.
But I took my niece's bright pink training bra to the backyard and threw it into a roasting bonfire. It smoked up nicely.
The next day, my niece was despondent when she came home from school. “Auntie, now my nipples are chafing against my T-shirt and the school bully said he could see them. Like he could actually see my nipples!!!! How could you have burned my bra, you Cruella De Vil!”
So, should I back down? Should I buy her another training bra? Years later she'll probably accuse me of starting her on a path of bodily confinement, fleshly tortures, and heaven only knows what else. What's an auntie to do? I want to say don't wrap and strap in the girls until you really need to.
I'd love to hear your two cents on training bras. Does anybody remember wearing them? Please feel free to share your experiences and advice. Ruby Needs to Know!


  1. I remember them being called that; however, to me, it seemed just like a down-scaled version of what my mom wore. I must say, though, I was highly disappointed with the training my boobs received. They were strictly told to stay firm and perky and have not as I aged. I'd like my money back.

    1. I'm sure the girls are beautiful just as they are.

  2. I never cared for characters blogging. Too "cute" and also too much hiding behind a character for the author. I think we do this in our fiction. Blogs are closer to reality shows in that they only work with either the illusion or, even better, the exposure of authentic selves.

  3. Kathy, thank you introducing us to your guest blogger Ruby. I look forward to reading more of her blog entries.

    Ruby, I am so glad you brought up the subject of bras. I'm not sure I'm as "upfront" (pardon the pun) as you are in writing about them.

    I do not remember asking for or wearing a training bra but then my girlfriends, my older sister and my mother never taught me (and I never asked) how to use make-up. So I think the whole girl-to-woman transition was not an important part of my teenage years. I do I remember my mother taking me to the ladies at Schwartz Bra Shop in Albany Park for my first fitting. Most embarrassing.

    When I attended college in the 60's, we went bra-less and oh it was so much more comfortable. It didn't last, When I went into the work world after college, fashion dictated that I needed a bra under my blouses and dresses. I complied. But they sure are uncomfortable!

    Girdles disappeared. Maybe bras will be next, or at least some creative women will come up with comfortable bras. A girl (a woman) can dream, can't she?

    1. Love your memories and thoughts! Thanks for sharing them.