My concern about the size and shape of my bosom was a life and death important thing that I inherited from my two older sisters.
One sister was B-cup bosomy, the other was flat as a board. What my sisters ingrained in me was -- without wonderful bosoms, one couldn't have an exciting, thrilling, fantastical love life.
But I wanted to be dancer and the ballerinas in the photos I tacked to the wall above my bed were definitely not bosomy. In their tutus, they had teeny waists and hour-glass smooth, bosom-less chests.
Oh sure, I knew about the birds, bees and sex from sex education classes in school. And for awhile, I liked playing with dolls and playing house with the boy who lived next door. But all that -- once I started taking ballet classes -- was not as important as turned-out feet, stretching so I could do a split, convincing my parents that my ballerina dream was serious, and getting them to let me take ballet classes twice-a-week.
Well, I did it -- I became a dancer. And while I was learning how to dance better than anyone else, marrying a male dancer, and rising in the dance world with him doing one-night stands, my bosom was ... well, mostly, just part of the costumes.
I was quite satisfied with my small "oranges." When, occasionally, I needed to look sexier, there were falsies. My costume designer made me an undergarment that gave me a perfect bosomy shape for a forty-minute solo that got rave reviews.
Anyhow, in between writing letters to get bookings, and finding an agent who could get us more prestigious engagements, I kept a sort of diary about arguments I was having with my dance partner, and where I was heading personally.
And diary-keeping, as time passed, became my writing career and my novel, "Somebody, Woman of the Century," the story of Cordelia. My heroine was born the first day of new century so that her age represented the year.
I wanted to write about all the major events -- wars, fashion, great leaders, The Pill, bikinis, air travel, cake mixes, all the trivia that affected me, my sisters, Mom, other moms and wives -- all the women I knew.
Of course bosoms are part of the story in my novel.
"For Cordelia, age fifteen was very different from age fourteen. Where not so long ago her hips and waist were up-and-down straight, now they were somewhat curved. Her little mounds had become "baby oranges." Her friend Penny called them that, delighting in her own "grapefruits." At least "oranges" weren't "pancakes" like Faye's, who spent a lot of time trying out silk stockings, bunching, rolling, squeezing them to see if they felt real when stuffed in the brassiere her mumsie bought in France. She wanted to be like Penny, who was the first girl in the school who really needed to wear one."
My heroine didn't know, and only after research did I learn more about bosoms -- how things have changed down through the ages.
Around 62 AD, artifacts found in the ruins of Pompeii show that some women wore chest coverings that look like a brassiere. And back in the 14th century BC in China, bikini-like garments were worn by female athletes -- a Dudou (a 'belly cover') was in vogue among wealthy rich women, and stomach protectors evolved over the centuries into corsets.
In the Western world, in the early nineteen-hundreds, "S" corsets started pushing the breasts up.
As gowns became more décolletage, nipple piercing became popular in France. Surgery was done to remove ribs to make the waist smaller as bustles, padded hips, then crinolines became stylish, along with long-line corsets.
Gradually, corsets with boning became shorter, straps made of "lastex," (yarn with a core of elastic rubber) were used, and wedges kept the breasts apart, often with padding.
Around 1916, these garments began to be "brassieres," and the term “cup” was first used. The first cup manufacturers relied on stretchable cups to accommodate different-sized breasts.
In 1932, a company started using the letters A through D. Warner began to feature cup-sizing in its products. Adjustable bands with multiple eye and hook positions were introduced and the business exploded into the billion-dollar business that is now.
Ads for Frederick's of Hollywood, Adola, and Hollywood Bras appeared
Soon bra ads were sprouting and inspiring everyone, everywhere.
Maidenform Bras sparked women's imaginations.
As did Madonna.
With Madonna's "Blonde Ambition" came those cone-shaped bras that Jean Paul Gaultier created for her -- pointed bras that looked like weapons.
And then came those lines of models, skinny young girls swinging their hips casually, parading down the runway with the very latest front and back cleavage, with more and more, very creative, bosom-revealing outfits.
Now we've got Victoria's Secret's super-unreal breasts being revealed constantly along with -- well -- what more is there to be revealed?
Why is it important?
Because how breasts are decorated and displayed inspires us -- shocks, delights and perturbs us. It's a huge part of daily day-dreaming, and mental meandering, i.e. fantasy fun.
I mean, gee, why are you looking at this page?