Chapter

Brassieres

Jill Fields

in An Intimate Affair

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520223691
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941137 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520223691.003.0004
Brassieres

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This chapter talks about the twentieth century brassiere, which was used as a companion garment of longer corsets. It reveals that the cultural meaning of the brassiere deepened as female breasts became the most important bodily design of gender distinction in modern United States. Brassiere design and marketing profitability used twentieth-century mechanisms that objectified female embodiment. Cup sizes were invented in 1935, and these increased the objectification of the female body. The discussion also shows that cup sizes provided a classification of women's bodies. The chapter concludes that the glamorous and transformative power attributed to large, firm, and uplifted breasts explains their constant popularity among women from the late 1930s to the present.

Keywords: brassiere; cultural meaning; gender distinction; female embodiment; cup sizes

Chapter.  12139 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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