Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Woman’s Breast Friend

What better way to kick off Women's History Month than by paying homage to what should be every woman's best friend - a good fitting bra!
Why is it that the one thing women should be able to count on to lift us up, often lets us down? If a dog is man’s best friend, then a bra ought to be a woman’s breast friend. But for an estimated 70 to 80 percent of us, it’s not. Bad bra wearing is so rampant that media mogul Oprah Winfrey, has devoted time and attention including a bra revolution and intervention to help address this sagging issue.
 A yahoo search for bra fitting yielded 77,900,000 thousand hits in less than 1/10th of a second and yet despite Oprah’s dedication and the influence of the World Wide Web, the majority of us are not wearing bras that are right for us. How can you tell? Here’s how. Have you ever seen a woman whose bra band is so far up her back that she looks like she’s about to parachute out of a plane?  Or what about the woman who looks like she has four breasts or even six as she spills over the top and out of the sides of the bra cup? Susan Nethero, a professional fitter, who gives bra fitting tips on, offers other signs that your bras is the wrong size: cups that dimple and straps that fall down. Nethero says that exposure of the dreaded back fat can also be attributed to a bad fitting bra.
How hard is it to buy a bra? A 36C is a 36C right? Wrong! And therein lies the problem: the bra industry does not have standard sizes, so a woman who thinks she’s a 36C  maybe a 36C in one brand but wears another size in a different brand or even style of bra. Cayla Bender and Avis Zimbler, professional fitters and owners of Sally Ann Corset Shop have been in business since 1973, and they understand that the biggest misconception women have about bras is size which is especially problematic in an industry that does not have uniformity. Size is not a good gage for fit because size varies based on manufacturer, fabric, cut or style. “Size is relative to the bra. You can buy three bras in three sizes and they’ll all fit,” says Zimbler. “But everybody thinks they can have a generic fit and find the same size everywhere and it will fit.”
First located in Bridgeport, they moved to the Beverly Morgan Park Area in 1999, and business is doing well; it’s up 67 percent with one manufacturer. The seldom quiet chimes signal a steady flow of regular, new, and potential customers during the week, and on Saturdays the four dressing rooms are revolving doors for women looking for a good fit. The women crowd into the small space and wait patiently as the sisters promise to service each of them bringing bra after bra after bra, taking their time to help their customers find the right fit. “We don’t talk size, we talk fit,” Zimbler quips.
Another problem women face with buying bras is how they’re made. Quality matters. “Good bras are engineered, Bender says."Places like the big box stores sell bras that just look pretty hanging on the hangers -- fit doesn't take first place." Bender and Zimbler say they’re part of a dying breed. “We’re like dinosaurs. There are very few of us left,” Bender says. And that’s unfortunate because wearing an improperly fitted bra is not just a matter of style; it benefits our health as well.
Charles Newman, a professional massage therapist can tell if a client wears ill fitting bras. “When I see or feel deep underwire indentions, or deep ridges from shoulder straps and redness or red lines around the back, I suspect an improperly fitted bra.” Newman also says that wearing bras that are too tight do not allow the breasts to breathe. “A good fitting bra does not impede circulation and lymphatic drainage.”
Our breasts change as we change, so we needed to be fitted regularly. “The best sag and drag prevention is a well fitted bra,” says Newman.
Sally Ann Corset Shop 10501 S. Western. 773-298-1031. www.sallyanncorsetshop.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Scandalousness of Scandal – Part 1

I love Scandal! I tune in every Thursday to be a voyeur in the life of Olivia Pope and her team of Gladiators. It’s been a long time since I’ve planned my evening around a TV show. I used to do it years ago when the Thursday night lineup included The Cosby Show followed by a A Different World. Then Living Single became my addiction, but since that time, I had given up TV watching until now.

It seems that the more popular Scandal becomes, the more embroiled in controversy it becomes. I understand the controversies; I simply don't agree. There is this notion that Olivia’s affair not only condones the Sally Hemmings Thomas Jefferson illicit love affair, but that those who root for Liv and Fitz condone extra marital affairs. Really?  

I won’t even comment on the racial aspect, except to say that the idea of the black woman in an interracial relationship can only be used for a white man’s pleasure, is probably the thinking of some angry, whiny black men who are strangely tight-lipped when nearly every leading black man ends up with a non-black love interest. Can you say Denzel in Flight? I rest my case.

The women who are making the biggest stink about Olivia’s relationship with the president are probably some of the biggest hypocrites. The idea that women who root for Liv and Fitz’s relationship support home wreckers is so amusing because I know of so many instances where the woman was the mistress before she became the Mrs. They did it in real life. Olivia does it on TV. Which of these scenarios is more cause for harm? Hum!

Then there’s this idea that Keri Washington’s character is nothing more than a stereotypical trope who’s no different than the women on the reality TV shows. What a stretch! Most of the women on reality TV are more stereotypical than the fictional Olivia Pope. All these women do is sit around and pretend to be mature and then pretend fight to boost the ratings because no black woman I know who spends that much money on weave is going to risk it being messed up! Realty TV is Fantasy TV, and people are mad at Olivia Pope like she's a real person! I'm confused.

I recently read a piece on how Olivia’s character upholds patriarchy and white supremacy. And it's also bee written that Olivia is not a breath of fresh air, but a remix of same old stereotypes plaguing black women since we got here. I get this whole idea of the racialized and sexualized body of black women; I live in one. And to be weighted down by weight and gender EVERY day is exhausting! Every characterization of black women has been dissected into minuscule pieces of nothingness. We’re never satisfied with the characterization of black women – not on The Cosby Show, in The Color Purple in The Help, any Tyler Perry movie, or even the little girl in Beasts of the Southern Wild. You name it and somebody has a problem with it.

Yes! Olivia Pope is a black woman, but she is also a woman, and she reminds of women that I know. We fight hard get to where we are, we think we can do it all; fix it all. But we seldom understand that the same drive and tenacity that got us to where we are doesn’t work with the human heart.

Even though Liv and Fitz are at the center of Scandal, the cast of supporting characters intrigue me just as much and sometimes more than the two of them. Huck is a trained killer, and I love him! But no one is saying that if you like Huck that you support assassins. So why do I have to have some subconscious context for my appreciation of Olivia Pope? Does watching Scandal make me a race traitor and husband thief or co-supporter of infidelity?
So for everyone who has their underwear in a bunch over Scandal—ouch! The show is called Scandal for a reason. It’s not going to be pretty; it’s political, it’s dirty; it’s backstabbing and it’s messy. While I’m screaming at the TV, I am both emotionally wrenched and intellectually stimulated. And when I finish telling the cast of Scandal how to fix their lives, I can return to mine.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Forgive me Father for I have. . .

Wow! 2013 came in like the Chicago Hawk on the lakefront in the middle of winter. January was a flurry of activities that were plucked right out of of R& B artist Usher’s Confessions CDs. It’s been said that confession is good for the soul, and so it seems it was at the start of the year.

It started with the revelation that college footbal star Manti Teo’s girlfriend was not real. Seems that the woman that he was in love with was nothing more than an internet hoax. She was born on the internet and died on the internet. So, Teo had to come clean that he’d never met the woman that he professed his dying love for, and that their relationship was exclusively online.

Speaking of coming clean, following on the heels of  Teo, was the confession of Lance Armstrong, for mer poster child for the Tour de France cycling event. In an exclusive interview with talk show guru Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong admitted publicly that he had used performance enchance drugs throughout his reign as cyclying champion. After vehemently denying that he was using drugs, Armstrong was found guilty, but had not talked openly about it. So, Armstrong decided to have a sit-down with Winfrey and discuss his doping days.

Although Armstrong was forth coming, Beyonce was initially tight-lipped following the discovery that she lipped-synced the national anthem during President Obama’s second presidential inauguration. Lip syncing the national anthem? A crime no less than treason it seemed for all of the attention the incident got. But Beyonce silenced the critics when she called a press conference before her Super bowl performance and belted out the national anthem accapella. After she finished singing, she addressed any lingering questions about her lip syncing incident.

And if that wasn’t enough for one month, it was discovered that football great Dan Morino admits to fathering a child during an extra marital affair with a CBS employee. Seems that Morino paid his Baby Mama a large sum of hush money, but the story was leaked.

Though I’m not generally a trend follower, I do think that confession can be good for the soul especially when it's volunteered on the behalf of the confesser. So, I am going to join my co-confessors and fess up to my dirty little secret. I didn’t watch any of the inaugural activities. I had the day off and I didn’t even tune in. I just sort of piddled around the house. OMG! This is bad. I’m black, so I’m confessing and hoping that my black card is not revoked. Because we all know that 100 percent of African-Americans love us some Saint Obama. Wow, now I know how Teo, Armstrong and Beyonce must have felt to lift that ten-ton burden off their chests because I feel better now and. . .

In the words of Usher, this is my confession.