The Good Old Days: When Push-ups Were in Gym Class
I vividly remember that whenever a person said my mother and I looked alike, my mother would quickly counter with, “Oh, no, she’s much prettier than I am.” As a teen, I interpreted her response as lack of self-esteem. As a mother, I now know she was simply standing aside unconditionally and allowing me to shine. Whether people thought I was prettier wasn’t the point. The point was she didn’t have the ego to be jealous of me.
With my 15-year-old daughter, I have adopted my mother’s same line because she IS prettier than I am. And while I happily stand on her sidelines, feeling righteously ego-less, yet proud to have contributed some DNA to her good looks, there is one area where I am admittedly jealous of her: she likes her “rack.”
I am perplexed by my daughter’s world. When I was developing in the 4th grade, I spent endless energy dressing to hide the fact I even had to wear a bra. I would have died of humiliation had my bra straps been showing, and I lived in eternal fear that some obnoxious boy would snap them. My daughter’s generation is not only proud to wear bras, but also seemingly unashamed to show them off. Straps hang out of tank tops, bras are visible under sheer t-shirts a la Madonna and sports bras are in full view in ballet class. When did this become normal?
Push-Up Bras For Teens Is The New Trend
At Victoria’s Secret, I mutter, “Gee, what’s the secret?” as we waltz past the red push-ups, blue lace water bras and yellow air bras. When she reaches out with excitement to grab the newest, green, demi-plunge-backless-strapless-ooh-la-la bra she’s been wanting, wanting, wanting, (The joke, of course, is that while she happily wants to purchase a push-up bra, I’m the one who needs it!) I have this fleeting image about how we used to shop for M&M’s or Legos in the same vibrant colors. Gone are the days when a push-up was something we did in gym class, water was used for drinking, air was used for breathing and a demi was a cup used for cappuccino!
Overall, I think it is a positive change that she and the young women of her generation seem to easily (ok, too easily?) embrace their necessity for bras. Still, I hear my grandmother’s voice admonishing, “Honey, you look like a streetwalker with your bra strap hanging out!” every time my daughter comes downstairs for breakfast with her straps on display. My daughter has moved beyond the symbolic oppression of my generation: my sister, the hippie, burning her bra, my humiliation at having to wear one early on and our desperation at trying to hide it. Underwear, it would seem has come out of the closet (or the top drawer). Displaying it is no longer embarrassing or inappropriate, except when it’s a thong peaking out of low-cut jeans. I think we can all agree that’s just wrong no matter how you slice it!