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There's more to life than lifting and separating

June 27, 1997

An expert on ill-fitting bras? Yes, there is one out there. Her name is Phyllis Kruckenberg, and she bills herself as one of the world's foremost authorities on bras.

I found that out when I was leafing through a book of experts the media can consult on a multitude of subjects.

I looked at her ad, entitled "The Hidden Dangers of Wrong Size Bras." It said 85 percent of all women are wearing wrong-size bras, and as a result face potentially serious problems, including re-directed breast tissue and impaired circulation.

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Suddenly I felt sorry for Kruckenberg. Even compared to the expert on inedible fungi, she must get few calls, I thought. Probably never gets asked to appear on "The Tonight show."

Pity for her washed over me, and I decided to give her a buzz. Might be the only call she gets all year, I reasoned.

I never did talk to the woman. Her line was always busy.

While I was waiting to get through, I started thinking about my own experience with ill-fitting bras, and the experiences of friends and acquaintances.

I mean, what makes a person an ill-fitting bra expert, anyway? I figured I qualify.

When I was in junior high, I knew a flat-chested girl who insisted on wearing a "training" bra. They didn't make 'em that small, but she insisted. Her bra was the epitomy of ill-fitting. It just sort of dangled from the poor thing's shoulders. (I could empathize).

Anyway, she couldn't play basketball because when she leaped up for a rebound or tried to take a jump shot her bra would flip up around her neck. It was embarrassing for her, especially since it looked nothing like a scarf.

The same girl was almost strangled by that bra on another occasion, when it flipped up, wrapped itself around her neck and constricted her windpipe during a field hockey game.

Ill-fitting bras are why flat-chested girls hate gym class.

Stuffing Kleenex in your bras can help fill them out and make them fit better, but it is not healthy. The Kleenex tend to wad up and make you look lumpy. Occasionally they work their way out and protrude from the top of your blouse, or fall to your waistline where they roll around all day. That can be annoying.

(Tip: If a Kleenex protrudes out the top of your blouse when you are in public, you can always calmly pluck it out and blow your nose with it. You can just pretend you keep them tucked in your bra for easy reach).

Pre-padded bras eliminate the Kleenex problem, but tend to look too perfect. Besides, they are often pointy. (I had a friend who was afraid to wear such bras to dances out of fear she would impale her partner).

Ill-fitting bras ride up or rotate from right to left on flat-chested women, depending on the activity they're engaged in.

When your bra rotates, it makes you look off center, and because you appear abnormal people stare at you and laugh at you and say things like, "Look at her. She's crooked!"

So far, I've concentrated on the problems suffered by brassiere wearers who are not well-endowed, because that is my area of expertise. I have never had a cup that runneth over.

But there are also very well-endowed women out there who suffer problems. Bras, whether ill fitting or not, cut into their sides and backs. The back rides up and the front drags down. The underwires that provide support leave nasty little red lines on their bodies.

The straps pull their shoulders down. They start walking funny.

Bras firm and tight enough to keep everything elevated can also redesign the physique. What started out being down is now up, and what was in is now bulging out.

(As an aside, the one size fits all stuff is, well ... a crock. Think about it. Do these manufacturers really think you can stuff a DDD into a bra that fits an AAA?)

The bottom line: It's unnatural. All of it. All of them - brassieres, that is.

And it's all because someone decided women were supposed to have fruit-shaped, uplifted breasts.

I figure if God wanted you to have pears sticking out of your chest, he would have planted them there.

I have come to the conclusion that there is but one answer to ill-fitting bras, and bras in general for that matter.

Chuck 'em.

Stay loose, be happy and breathe free.

Just chuck 'em.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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