Like In My Youth, It’s Time To Burn The Bras

Deborah Welky


I have an idea. Let’s tell every man we know that, before he heads off to work each day, he should strap an elastic band around his chest. Sure, it will make it more difficult to swing his arms, lift things, bend or stretch without chafing, but I think it’s a good idea.

And because excessive movement or, indeed, any movement at all will cause this band to slip out of place, it could have a strap that fits over each shoulder. As days turn into years, these straps will eventually gouge trenches into his shoulders, but that’s OK — then the straps will be less likely to slip down his arm, inhibiting movement even further.

Share this idea with all the men of your acquaintance, and I pretty much guarantee that their responses will range from “no” to “hell, no!”

Yet women do this every day.

So I was surprised that the subject came up during a Memorial Day picnic, where temperatures in the high 80s were causing rivulets of perspiration to travel down the chests of male and female attendees alike.

One of the females, whose elastic band was now acting as a retention pond in addition to its other wonderful properties, quietly suggested to the other females that we burn our bras — again. “We did it in the ’60s, why not now?” she asked.

She instantly had everyone’s attention. The women looked at her in awe, as if to say, “We really could?” and the men looked at her in amazement, as if to say, “You really would?”

And then we laughed out loud.

We laughed because, not being in our 20s anymore, the idea seemed utterly (even udderly) preposterous. It would be on YouTube in three seconds. Worse (judging by the excitement sparked by the very thought of it), it would instantly inaugurate a national trend. Women who should be thinking about joining the Gray Panthers would instead be standing around bonfires, vehemently hurling in undergarments that would slowly melt into lacy pink blobs of latex, rubber, plastic, hooks and eyes. The air would be rife with chlorofluorocarbons. The ashes would have to be treated as hazardous waste.

And what then? What happens after we’ve thrown off the yokes and halters of our oppression? I’ll tell you what — less back pain, less shoulder pain, less shoulder disfiguration and maybe — just maybe — fewer heart attacks.

Did you know that 200,000 women die each year from heart attacks? Yes. And that the first thing the paramedics do upon arriving at the victim’s side is cut off her bra? Uh-huh. That alone should tell us something. That alone should serve as a warning.

So let this be my rallying cry: “Burn your bra! Free ‘the girls’!”

I will if you will.