Friday, December 9, 2016

BURNING BRAS

Twenty of us sat in Maidenform's headquarters in New York City. We came to preview the new season's underwear that Maidenform designers offered. The designers stood in front of us waiting for their expected praise. What we gave them instead was "We don't want to wear girdles and bras like that. Too tight, too pointy, too stiff, too hard to get into."


1969 Teen Lingerie Ad, 
Lovable Lace Mates Undergarments 
with Pretty Teen Girl, "Wear Lace"
Published in Ingenue magazine, May 1969 - Vol. 11, No. 5

The designers were nonplussed, not knowing what to do with a group of such unruly women. They thought they knew what was best for us, but we didn't want to listen. This was the late 60s and another kind of revolution was taking place. Women's lib and civil rights protests rang through the streets. We were no longer willing to be patronized, excluded, marginalized. We were a movement. Some of us pitched in (a friend from college dodged bullets while encouraging African Americans to register to vote for the first time, others marched in anti-war protests) while many of us, including me, stood at the side, but supported the principles through groups we joined. (I'm a member of the American Association of University Women whose mission is to support education for women and girls).

Today I find myself no longer willing to stay on the sidelines for causes and ideas that I value. I am standing up wherever I can when I see injustice or a return to pronounced prejudices.

Where do you stand?


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I worked at Mademoiselle magazine shortly after graduating from college. I had been selected as one of the twenty Guest Editors for their August College issue. Part of our month of visits with celebrities and manufacturers of women's products included a tour of the Maidenform headquarters.

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This post is dedicated to Madelyn McKenzie Stelmach, who died earlier this year of a brain tumor. She was a high school friend. We became reacquainted a couple of years ago. I discovered a new hero in Madelyn. She was a lifelong activist who continued to march, petition, and protest points of view that diminish, exclude, and marginalize other human beings.


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Remember to send me your stories of someone who inspires you.
marthaslavin@gmail.com
Peace be with you, John Glenn.

7 comments:

  1. 1965, I went into our neighborhood dep't store to get a new girdle (for holding up nylons) but complained how girdles gave me a tummy roll. 'Ouch!' The saleswoman asked me if I'd tried Pantyhose. ??? She gleefully showed me how they worked and I was hooked. in '69 Maidenform was about to be left in the dust... so it was not surprising they had no clue what young women wanted...they'd never bothered asking before--they were expecting for you to write fluff pieces in the mags!
    I think we're about to see a huge backlash against women's potential political power--as evidenced in the National Park Service denying use of any public space in DC for the Women's March on Jan 21st. We're going to have to organize again to put candidates of our choosing forward, and to get them elected. It will take a few decades, but we can get them into positions of gov'tl power. Thinking long haul here. I'm joining NOW again for starters.

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    1. Sue, I agree with you. Thank you for writing and staying strong in your beliefs. I too am making more deliberate choices so that I support my beliefs. I'm not willing any more to let things pass.
      Great story about pantyhose too!

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  2. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, Martha. As a fellow member of AAUW and a longtime advocate for women's rights I am thrilled with today's post. This recent election has moved me to sign some petitions and encourage others to do the same. If we don't stand up for ourselves, who will?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, who will? Thank you as always for being a supporter of my blog. Now we need to stay strong and not let all the progress we've made get disrupted.
      Madeleine was a special person. Hard to lose her.

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  3. I was sure I commented on this one and remember starting with a condolence for the loss of your friend. I shared your blog with Sam who is thinking of doing a poetry blog. I also mentioned signing petitions and getting involved politically since this god awful election.
    As for bras...McAulous has these wonderful bras that are boneless and comfortable as can be. They are Bali brand and are 100% nylon.

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  4. Sorry about the loss of your friend.

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