We here at Antigone have a thing for breasts; in fact, we love them so much we feel, like the American Public during Nixon’s reign, that it is scandalous to keep them under wraps.
Well, not quite.
An article on office etiquette in the Globe and Mail’s “Life” section details the do’s and dont’s of ‘bratiquette.’ Apparently women *must wear nipple cups because, heaven forbid, it might offend someone that their body parts are functioning naturally in an air-conditioned environment.
Granted, lingerie is geared largely toward aesthetics rather than functionality, but it still seems odd to me that women should have to compensate for the marketing and clothing choices that are largely available to them. Do we ask men to wear a jock strap to work? Certainly not. This requirement is also somewhat discriminatory: breasts come in all shapes and sizes, asking women who have this particular problem to compensate is like asking men who have excessive body hair to shave it routinely.
And while I’m speaking of men, I think the stipulations around bra straps aren’t that far off from the requirement that men be “clean-shaven.” What is clean and what is dirty? What makes a bra strap offensive? For women, they are almost as natural as facial hair–ubiquitous and yet, continually hidden or disguised…
As Ms. Mann points out, “I think it’s important to have the right bra where the strap doesn’t fall off your shoulder and you’re constantly sticking your hand in your blouse to pull it back up.”
Even if a code of bra conduct doesn’t exist, these clearly are not unmentionable issues. On the contrary, they’re fun to flesh out. When addressing questions of cleavage, Ms. Collins cautions, jokingly: “When you see the coin slot, you’ve gone too far.”
I was raised in the generation which made the visible bra strap much more acceptable than it once was. And though I don’t advocate displaying bra-straps as a fashion statement, I certainly feel that to be chastised for adjusting something which society requires we wear is unfair. It’s happened to us all once or twice; we fix the problem and move on.
This isn’t to say I advocate cleavage baring shirts in an office environment; quite the contrary, I agree that it (cleavage) can be a distraction. However, I do think that asking women to wear nipple cups is tantamount to asking them to become ‘men.’ For the 10 seconds it will take for a woman to put a sweater on, her colleagues can look away. I for one am not about to rush out and buy a bra for that…
The opinion of the personal consultant interviewed for the article seems to me to be part of the larger conservative backlash in work etiquette, which has become familiar in the last few years.
What do we say to poor Hillary? Is it wrong her “coin slot” was in view? In the boardroom tradition: yes, women have breasts–next topic on the agenda please…