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Stop keeping Secrets — give a hoot for your hooters and burn those bras

By From page A10 | February 16, 2014

So, I have this blog that, for the most part, has almost zero activity because I am simply unable to get past my OCDness and just write things willy-nilly and let them fly, typos and all. When it comes to writing, I’m like Marilyn Monroe — she never appeared in public until she was satisfied that she was perfectly dressed, and neither does my writing. Divas. It’s how we roll.

Consequently, one must wave through the cobwebs to read my blog, and I don’t even have it bookmarked myself. I have to look up the address by googling my name plus “wordpress” to get to it. That said, there is one post on the blog, which later became an actual column last summer, that’s still getting respectable traffic: the one on breast rashes caused by Victoria’s Secret bras.

Yes, women are still slowly realizing that their lovely and very expensive bras are causing the itchy, raw red streaks and patches on their breasts, googling around, and landing on my obscure little blog, expressing gratitude for finding some validation on what is happening to them. Many of them, like myself, are (were!) longtime, loyal VS customers, and are not only disappointed that their favorite product is causing so much discomfort, but outraged that although VS is aware of the problem (there are class action suits that prove it), VS doesn’t care. It continues to put out a product laced with formaldehyde, and this is not merely speculation. Some of their bras were laboratory tested, and the presence of formaldehyde confirmed. I won’t bore you with all the web links, but you’ll find them on my blog.

Just last week, a woman named Jean posted a comment on the May 3 post, entitled, “Victoria’s Secret May Be Putting More Into Their Bras Than Boobies,” that she’d set out in search of an acceptable substitute for VS bras and chose Maidenform. Much to her horror, after wearing the bras for awhile, she got the rash again. She looked at the label and like the VS bras, these also were made in China.

Well, this isn’t too hard to figure out. It’s the actual fabric made in China causing the issue, and that fabric could be used on anything. Or, maybe VS also manufactures Maidenform bras. The common denominator is Chinese fabric and the “Made in China” label. The bra rashes didn’t occur until VS switched to a Chinese manufacturer.

Jean posed a painfully obvious question: Why can’t an American company start making bras, right here in the U.S., made from fabric also made right here in the U.S.? We grow cotton here, tons of it, in fact, and 100 percent cotton bras are the best (in my opinion), so why can’t we befriend the boobies and manufacture bras that won’t hurt them? Expense is not the issue, because as anyone who has ever purchased a Victoria’s Secret bra will tell you, they aren’t cheap. They can easily cost upwards of $40 apiece and I am absolutely certain this is about a 75 percent markup and mostly profit. You’re paying $38 for the Victoria’s Secret label and two bucks for the bra. Certainly an American factory with American workers and American formaldehyde-free fabric could produces a little scrap of fabric, wire and elastic for $40 a pop.

As boob-crazy as this country is, you’d think there’d be a little more concern over the proper care and feeding of the All-American breast than to allow them to be exposed to dangerous chemicals and end up sad, itchy and inflamed. I can tell you this: If men were having this problem with their tighty-whities, something would be done. On the other hand, maybe it IS happening to men, and they don’t realize what’s causing it.

Guys — you think you have jock itch. Check your underwear — were they made in China? If so, test it out — find a product that’s not manufactured in China (if that’s even possible anymore) and wear that for awhile. See if the rash goes away. Then switch back. See if it returns. This is how women, including myself, finally identified the source of our problem.

Besides the disappointing realization that Victoria’s Secret is willfully producing a harmful product, the overriding issue is that the U.S. government does a piss-poor job of inspecting food and products that come from China. I believe the current inspection rate for food coming from China is only about 3 percent, so that leaves a whopping 97 percent gap for contaminated food to slip through and onto our tables.

If they’re only inspecting 3 percent of food, I’d imagine that the inspection rate for products is even weaker, and we probably don’t know they’re poisoned until a bunch of infants turn up with lead poisoning after chewing on teething rings covered in lead paint. As for bra inspections? Pssshhh … the government doesn’t give a hoot about that. So, ladies, we must give a hoot about our own hooters and start checking labels. The easy solution is don’t purchase Victoria’s Secret products at all, in protest of their shoddy business practices and lack of concern for customer loyalty. Beyond that, look at labels. Does it say “Made in China”? Don’t buy it. That simple. “Made in the USA” but costs twice as much? Buy that. I’d rather have one expensive American made item than five cheap, poisonous Chinese ones, whatever it is.

The bottom line is this: Our own government doesn’t seem to care that we are purchasing bras infused with harmful chemicals, and as little as it cares, you can bet that the Chinese government cares even less. They throw their own daughters over cliffs. I rather doubt that they care if they’re harming American women.

Buy American or don’t buy at all. You’re better off going braless. Let’s resurrect the braless movement of the ’70s — let’s burn those bras.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at [email protected]; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

Debra DeAngelo

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