This commercial blew my mind. Unfortunately I can't find a video, so the website will have to do.
Bali Concealers. It is a line of brassieres. "The first and only bras," in fact, "with revolutionary concealing petals for complete modesty." The commercial prominently features this phrase and initially I had no earthly idea what Petals are or how they promote Modesty. Then, after numerous close-ups of breasts (or, if you prefer the proper medical term, "knockers") under thin, satiny, skin-tight dresses…
Oh. "Modesty." The gee-it's-cold-in-here kind. The party-lights-are-on kind.
It struck me as amazing that this is, like, an actual thing that women have to consider when dressing. My primary goal when dressing is to make sure I don't leave the house without pants. Even when I have to dress professionally I could do it in the dark. Everything I own matches everything else. I have black shoes, brown shoes, and a belt matching each. And I never, ever have to worry about "modesty."
I've long believed that, rampant societal misogyny aside, being female is a pretty sweet deal. This commercial changed everything. I only wish I had thought of this simple, brilliant "invention" myself, as the Bali Corp. is no doubt going to make garbage bags of money on it. My ad campaign would be far classier, though.
Ginandtacos Modesty Bra: when you absolutely, positively can't have your nips pokin' out.tm
37 thoughts on “NPF: BEING FEMALE IS COMPLICATED”
(I tried emailing this, but to no avail. So now I look like a spammer.)
How about the Mow Your Lawn commercials? http://www.obscurecraft.net/obscureblog/2009/04/lady-lawn-management.php
I’ve long believed that, rampant societal misogyny aside, being female is a pretty sweet deal.
"Seriously, though, Mrs. Lincoln, you have to admit it was a pretty sweet play."
It's always fun trying to get dressed knowing that I have to both conceal AND reveal my body in exactly the right way to avoid both Slutty AND Frumpy if I want to be taken seriously as a professional adult. I have no doubt that that commercial is stupid as hell, but the bras look pretty comfy and I know that I do want something thick enough to keep the headlights off if I'm, say, teaching high school (the kind of attention I want from my students is definitely not the type I'd get if my brights were on).
Then again, teaching high school gives me all KINDS of extra-special wardrobe concerns, since I'm trying to trick these teenagers into thinking I'm old and respectable.
I was baffled when I first encountered these bras in the store. They have tags on them that boast of "petals", with no further explanation of what the hell petals are or why I would want them, because I guess the subject of erect nipples is just too indelicate and disturbing for BRA PACKAGING. I don't know, maybe Bali's copy is written by 11-year-old boys?
Missed the joke about Monica (from Friends) deciding to give her "precious flower". Apparently, the writers and Bali aren't in synch on where the bud actually is.
Also,…for as long as I can remember, I think being female *isn't* a sweet deal. For many, the onset of puberty brings uncontrollable mood swings, unwanted male attention (including to your modesty), anemia, … add to that the "rampant societal misogyny", and I have to wonder why you think it *is* a sweet deal…
Sam, I copied and posted the video about mowing the lawn. Thanks.
It wasn't that long ago in bra ads they would either show it on a mannequin or on the outside of clothing kinda like a Superhero's underpants. As for the 'petals', I guess the band-aids won't hold the nips down.
Hmm…I thought long and hard (okay for about 3 minutes) about the potential advantages of being a woman. The only one I came up with is that if you have a hicky you can claim you accidently burned yourself with the curling iron, which is far less convincing if you are a 16 year old boy….that is it, the only advantage I can think of.
Seriously guys like to make fun of our closets and shoes and what not but trying to dress appropriately for each and every circumstance when you are a professional woman is a nightmare, even more so if you have curves to hide and reveal in appropriate proportions.
It's only funny if you haven't gotten into social disaster with this problem. The other option is to wear "full coverage" bras. There's a whole vocabulary lesson involved in bras: demi, balconette, full coverage, sports, plunge, underwire, half-wire, strapless, convertible, minimizer, maximizer, nursing, maternity, shelf……
I can think of a few advantages: longer life expectancy (and quite a bit longer still if you omit childbirth-related deaths), less likely to die of childhood illnesses, lower rate of non-female specific cancers, generally don't have to worry about visible arousal, lower abundance of body hair, no male pattern baldness.
Disadvantages: The whole death-by-childbirth/pregnancy thing, menstrual-related pain, having to remember when menses are coming so you don't make any messes, random breast soreness, having to bind oneself before jogging or playing sports without pain (of course this varies but most women need some form of breast binding for this), higher incidence of fallen arches, lower body temperature which narrows the range of "comfortable".
Pretty much any other advantages or disadvantages I can think of are socially constructed and misogyny based.
Not having to worry about visible arousal is a definite plus, not enough to compensate for having to learn how to not pee on your shoes when squatting in the woods, but still an advantage. I wonder if they make briefs with "leaves" to improve their "modesty". I imagine 13 year old boys preparing for the spring dance would buy them in droves.
Shane, are you a man? I'm not on the attack here at all; I'm just curious because in my experience, no one but a man thinks of this situation as always, or even usually, signifying arousal. Really, the two phenomena have very little to do with each other.
No, I'm not a man, and I'm not sure what situation you are referring to. I posed the spring dance scenario only because I can remember the awkward embarrassment that was often created during the power ballad slow dance at occasions of this sort during the puberty years. Maybe I just always got stuck dancing with the weird boys; this is an entirely plausible explanation.
Oh, no. My husband gives me that "are you cold or just happy to see me" crap. I've carried, birthed and breast-fed two children–my "headlights" stay on all the time. /mumbles/idjit pain my…/end mumble/ It wasn't funny the first time, I guess it's supposed to get funnier upon repetition.
So there certainly are idjit rednecks out there who take this as a sign of sexual arousal. Oh yes.
Ed, you have no idea…most of it is just dealing with the expectations of everybody else.
oops. Sorry lu. Should have read for comprehension, I guess.
For complete modesty I advise wearing a large black bar across one's breasts.
p.s. I hope this means it is only a matter of time before the codpiece revival.
Thanks Chrisitina for clarifying the confusion for me.
Lu… I was not referring to "headlights" as a sign of arousal. I was responding to Leah's list of the advantages of being a woman, less worry "about visual signs of arousal," and suggesting that perhaps we develop a solution for increasing modesty for the males.
Also I think that perhaps I should just change my posting name. This is the second or third time I have been called out for not really understanding women because of it.
Hi, Shane, and sorry about the misunderstanding. I wasn't really calling you out–I did take you for a man, and it was partly because I thought you were laboring under the same misapprehension Christina's husband was. :) It was more a case of my wanting to take an opportunity to clear up the misconception. It kind of creeps me out the way men tend to be "hur, hur, hur" about the "headlights" thing. In the process, I totally misunderstood what you were saying!
Wow, Ed. Not to be too sarcastic or anything, or to blight the beginnings of your journey into Understanding Some of the Experiences of Half of Humanity, but…nip petals were a revelation that made you re-think what you had assumed were the benefits of being female? Perhaps you had not considered this very much…at all? Nip petals (and problems) are only the tip of the iceberg. So to speak.
Seriously, though — what Peggy and Courtney and Lu and dbsmall and Shane said. If, as a woman, you don't spend a couple hours a day maintaining and modifying your appearance in order to appear appropriately (hah!) feminine, you're considered and portrayed as a psycho-lezzie-feminazi-radical-hairy-mutant, or just totally ungroomed and therefore mentally disabled. If you do spend the requisite hours, you're considered a vain, shallow, self-absorbed, typically light-headed over-sexed bimbo who's only out to catch (ensnare) a man and who can't or won't think about "serious" things. It's a classic Catch-22; there is no winning, but by god the anxiety produced is GREAT for sales…of beauty products and self-help books. And therapy sessions.
Sweet Deal My Ass says:
2nding heqit, et al. As one very popular rad fem blogger sagely put it: femininity is a life sentence. And just try having large, unwieldy knockers that require industrial-strength support and never, ever being able to find that Perfect Bra that will keep everything securely in place AND is comfortable, to boot. That right there is an oxymoron: a supportive, comfortable bra. (Not to mention, what they charge for the ones that come remotely close to meeting that criteria is highway robbery.) I want to smack people who say moronic shit like, "Aren't you glad women no longer have to wear corsets?" Some of us are still wearing them…only they've been repurposed and restructured.
And don't get me started on the back pain caused from hefting around these supposedly enviable "funbags". I'd like to smack the person who coined that term, too.
Sweet Deal My Ass says:
Oh, and to pre-empt the inevitable male-authored "But I like the natural look, and all my buddies like the natural look, so you poor put-upon wimmin are just being silly by going to all that fuss." To you who would inadvertantly make an astoundingly obnoxious jackass of yourself, I say: No, you don't. You like the "natural make-up look", which, believe it or not, requires plenty of fuss. What you do not, in reality, want to see is women running around with absolutely no make-up, showing off their every pore, uneven skin tone, shininess, dark undereye circles, acne scars, untamed eyebrows, etc. Remarkably (but not really), most "feminist men" show their true colors whenever this subject arises. "Hey, hey, I'm all for equality! But just don't stop being, you know, *feminine*, ladies, Ok? 'Cause god damn but I do love to see a hawt chick in a short skirt, high heels, and with fire-engine red lips!" Egalitarianism has a habit of hitting a brick wall whenever you talk about dismantling the social construct of femininity in an aesthetic context.
Ok, rant over. It seemed like something that needed to be said on a blog where *someone* has had the audacity to actually say that femininity is a "pretty sweet deal" aside from the nip issue. Dear maude in heaven.
Though I am in total agreement with what the other women have said, allow me to mention Yet Another Fun Point: as I was what was euphemistically called an "early developer", the girls became hateful shrews who accused me of stuffing my bra (until the highbeams came on) and called me a slut. Boys hoped I was a slut, and put me down for not being one. And, since I was five feet tall, college boys were trying to pick up on me. "Are you new here?" Nope. I'm a fifth grader who is becoming a world-class misanthrope.
And, Kulkuri…YOU try ripping off those band-aids!
This website occasionally uses techniques known as "humor" and "sarcasm" that I would expect long-time readers to be familiar with by now.
Are you miffed that your NPF poked some sore spots, or that some women said "ouch"? Believe me, your post WAS funny. (I laughed, anyway.) But the female conversational cycle allows for the gear shift to the personal.
Parenthetically, when girls try to continue the humor cycle ("Modesty petals? Lemme tellya bout my first run-in with Feminine Deodorant Spray…") guys often get uncomfy. In the spirit of things, here is my favorite feminist joke:
Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: That's not funny.
I show off their every pore, uneven skin tone, shininess, dark undereye circles, acne scars, untamed eyebrows, etc. every day. Plenty of guys still hit on me. And I'm 35, so believe me, I do not have perfect 20 year old skin and dewy lips that look like I'm made up anyway. I also wear pants and sensible shoes most of the time, by the way. Yeah, some men like high maintenance women. Plenty don't give a rat's ass. So let's not tar them all with the same brush just like we don't want to all be tarred with the same brush, hey?
"the potential advantages of being a woman"
Well, from a guy's point of view, there is the sex…mmmmm…sex. I mean, imagine a guy laying naked in the street, ready for sex. Women would walk past laughing and pointing. If it was a woman lying there, there'd be a line of ready guys around the block.
And "How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" ~ 12, one to screw in the bulb and 11 to form a committee to draft a proposal to criticize the guy who let it burn out.
Let the nips poke free! And yes your ass does look big in that.
Ed-perhaps long time readers should be aware of humor and sarcasm, but this newish female reader has gotten a bit worn out by very progressive male bloggers falling down on the job when it comes to issues of sexism, gender, and patriarchy. I love your blog, and will continue to read it, but please don't give us the old "can't you take a joke?" line.
Being female is of course, as you sarcastically put it, a pretty sweet deal, just as being a colonized or oppressed is a ton of fun. Forgive us if we bristle a bit from time to time when we feel the need to speak.
By the way, I appreciate very much the other comments on this post.
comrade x says:
From a strictly physical standpoint, having the ol' " meat- and- two- veg" swinging around down there isn't exactly a picnic.
In an ideal society we would be free to feel good about our bodies, but unfortunately we live in a capitalist wet dream and making people feel like shit about themselves is good for business.
BTW, Happy International Worker's Day… May 3rd is the American observance.
What Beth said. I've been avoiding commenting on this post because I know Ed didn't mean any harm, and because I love this blog so much. But yes, think this one through a little more.
As I am not 16 and this is not a LiveJournal, I'm not going to reduce myself to writing things like "(sarcasm) being female is really awesome (/sarcasm)".
If that level of humor is indicative of standing up for the patriarchy and counting myself among the ignorant masses of male oppressors, then I don't know what to say. This is the wrong blog for you, I guess. You can't have a sense of humor about everything except gender issues and expect that a person with a sense of humor is going to accomodate your boundaries.
For the record–I assumed you were joking. I thought it was pretty clear that you were making fun of the different expectations for men's and women's professional attire when you talked about getting dressed in the dark, and that you were ridiculing the commercial, not the actual bra. But I know you in person and am a long-time reader, so…
Also, amusingly, I mentioned this post to one of my coworkers, and she was all "Oh yeah! I have that bra! It's AWESOME!!!"
[ tmi? ] The main benefit of that kind of thing is for the woman with large enough breasts that she doesn't want a "full coverage" bra (which is often padded all over) but does want to prevent nip showage. We both prefer to avoid the padding (seriously, I do not need help in that area!) but it's tough to be "modest" in terms of nips while avoiding giant overpadded bras.
Um…let's diverge into a dissection of humor to the point where it's no longer funny.
Dude, I honestly didn't get the sarcasm. Even reading it again:
"I’ve long believed that, rampant societal misogyny aside, being female is a pretty sweet deal. This commercial changed everything."
I think that, given the subordinate qualifying phrase, it was hard to detect the first statement as sarcasm.
I suspect it had something to do with my brain being less effective once the topic of discussion was boobs.
Okay, well, never mind.
This is what exhausts us. Some guy we like, who is obviously clever and perceptive, says something appalling, about women.
Well, what's our option? We can shut up, which, you know, we do, a lot. And I mean a fucking lot. You have no idea how often we just shut up and eat this shit.
Or we can, as nicely as fucking possible, Ed, point out that maybe you want to rethink your position.
Then we can be told we're acting like crybabies, silly girls with no sense of humor.
If I didn't have a ten-year-old, maybe I would shut up.
I know it's your blog and you can do what you want.
Well, do what you want.
I'm overreacting. I'm sorry. It's been a bad week.
I take it back.
There is no reason for you to apologize.
Your point has been made quite clearly. Suggesting that I should rethink my position is great. I certainly do re-think things when groups of people I respect tell me I'm wrong.
That said, re-thought does not always produce a change in my position. I know what my own intent is, and I am comfortable that my motives are not insidious.
Sacred cows don't work with humor. Either you find the concept of me making fun of horrible things (such as, for example, misogyny or racism) in offensive ways funny or you do not. My only complaints come when people pick and choose issues that "aren't funny."
Nobody complains when I sarcastically adopt the voice of a rural idiot talking about "them colored folk." That is pretty offensive. It's also funny, and you also know that I don't mean "I approve of this worldview". Nobody complains when I make jokes about abortion, the Holocaust, prisoner abuse, and every other manner of horrible thing.
I can live with "You're not funny." What is impossible for me, or anyone else, to accomodate is an attitude that a few subjects are off limits. My style of humor is often to say a stupid, misogynist thing to highlight the fact that misogyny is stupid. Again, if that is not acceptable to you, I understand. My attitude remains that consistency is important. Picking and choosing doesn't work because we will all pick and choose different things, and by the time we get done removing everything that someone calls "off limits" we have a Leno monologue.
I love you so….hard. So hard. It's not even funny. I fucking love your sarcastic wit. Your humor is the same as mine. You make data sexy. Need I go on?
Damn right, Ed, this isn't livejournal and emoticons and qualifiers are lame.
I JUST had a snafu over the weekend with some Gays. I sent a message over Facebook asking people why they hated gay people because they hadn't responded to this event invitation that was for The Gays. I had to issue an apology and listen to people tell me that my sense of humor wasn't funny. I'm a queer, they're queers. I thought the irony would be spot on. So this exchange right here hits close to home. If you can't laugh at oppression and patriarchal bullshit, you might as well throw yourself off a bridge now because shit aint gettin no better.
But in regards to the topic: who gives a shit if your nipples are erect? Seriously? They are nipples. They might as well be earlobes for all I care. I understand the weight society gives nipples, but why should I be concerned if they are perkier than usual? I have breasts, dammit. Beautiful ones I am told, so there is no reason people should be alarmed if my nipples reflect the coldness of the room.
Whatever. Great post as usual.
This thread reminded me of a conversation I had with one of my best friends from university (who I'm still close to after 20+ years). She said that the one thing she envied gay men for was that they didn't have to rely on straight men to get laid. I assured her that having to rely on other gay men for that wasn't always a picnic either, but point taken.
One of the advantages for me, now that I'm married and a father, is that our sons get to see both their fathers interacting with women in a friendly and respectful way, so even if they turn out straight, they'll still have that early exposure. And I won't have to take them shopping for brassieres.
If, on their own, and for reasons unforeseen, they _want_ to be taken shopping for brassiers, my husband will handle it.
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