I should make a second character before it’s too late!
In 2020, Korea experienced the Coronavirus Era and the golden age of second characters. (Setting up another character other than your social/positional self. In other words, it’s like your second Instagram account?) The top-experienced newbie Yoo San-seul (the name of comedian and Korea’s top host, Yoo Jae-seok’s trot singer character) set fire to the second character era, and in the seat heated with great love by Second Aunt KimDaVi (the name of popular comedian Kim Shin-young’s trot singer character), Ssak3 (the name of the group formed by ‘singer Lee Hyo-ri, previously mentioned comedian/host Yoo Jae-seok, singer Rain’ who set up their second character ‘Linda G, Yoo-Duragon, BiRyong’ respectively) and Refund Sisters (the name of the group formed by singer Uhm Jung-hwa, singer Lee Hyo-ri, singer Jessi, singer Mamamoo’s Hwasa who set up their second character ‘Man Ok, Chun Ok, Eun Bi, Sil Bi’) appeared, recently closing their spectacular scene. Not long after Refund Sisters received a refund of their music, passion, and their solidarity through public love and returned home, and while recalling Park Myung-soo’s words, “It’s really late when you think it’s late,” I want to introduce my second character before we’re further away from the year of second characters.
Sitting in the office and writing this article is one of my 5,076 characters: marketer/editor. I have 5,069 second characters besides this professional character, but what I want to talk about today is me as a “Bra Explorer.” I’m a person who pursues comfort and freedom of the body. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t pleased with clothes that fit me tightly since I was young. When skinny jeans were in trend, I stuffed myself in them every day, even though I was in pain.
This article is about me, who dislikes feeling stuffy, and my journey in finding the most comfortable bra, or rather being okay with not wearing a bra, in other words, my journey to a world where I don’t have to go on an expedition to find the most comfortable bra. I will divide this into two as a series since there’s a lot to talk about the N years of my bra life into one.
Hey bra, nothing’s going right since I met you!
1) Junior bra, the prelude to misfortune
I don’t remember the day I first encountered a bra, but I only clearly remember that the first bra in my life was a white junior bra (that looks like a sports bra) that my mom bought me at a large local store. Those who have worn pure cotton junior bras (probably mostly women) will know that they’re like shackles. Aside from the stuffiness I’ve never experienced in my life before, the bra absorbs all the sweat, tightening more and making the body sticky. Would my bra life have been a bit better if I never had this junior bra?br>
As I became a senior in elementary school, I naturally started wearing bras with straps. Boys would often pull the strap from behind and run away, and teachers or parents would say, “Boys are always like that. It’s because he likes you.”
2) I covered my chest because I was told to, but if you tell me to also cover what I covered my chest with…
When I went to middle school, I entered into the world of bras with hooks. The feelings of being proud and pleased about becoming an adult lasted only for a while, as headteachers and the student council started a war of nerves as soon as summer approached. The special command: “Cover the bra!” I thought they were better than junior bras that covered half of the upper body, but the hooks’ presence was enormous, experiencing it for the first time in my life. We wore bras to cover our chest and wore sleeveless or short-sleeve shirts to cover the bras to protect the bras from the thin, see-through summer uniform. According to other school friends, some schools required you to wear a sleeveless over the bra in order to wear a white short-sleeve, or had rules on what color underwear, sleeveless, and short-sleeve you can wear. Our underwear shouldn’t be seen, no matter how many layers or what color we wore, so we had to cover ourselves even in the scorching heat. When I was a student, they didn’t turn on the air conditioner as much as they do now, so I felt like I was going crazy in summer. Whenever I saw girls standing in front of the school gate every morning, I thought it was strange seeing half of them in makeup and short skirts and the other half not covering their bras that are covering their chest properly.
3) Fold your finger if you’ve unfastened the hook as soon as you sat down in the study room
That’s how I entered high school. I had atopic dermatitis since I was young, and it was getting worse either because of the stress from entrance exams or hormones of adolescence. When the hot summer came again, the war began, but it wasn’t because of entering the school gate. I was in the student council, so I wouldn’t be caught, but it was because I had already trained for three years in middle school. But no matter how much I went through it, I couldn’t get used to the sweat at the bottom of my chest. When beads of sweat formed, I felt uncomfortable and itchy. When I scratched it, I got a wound and it oozed out.
Every summer, I repeated this cycle and had questions. Why do I wear this every day, feeling uncomfortable and scratching? At a time when every day is stressful, why do I have to stress about my bra and wounds? If the bra hadn’t choked me, so that I scratched less (It was the area I didn’t scratch when I didn’t wear a bra. My atopic dermatitis caused trouble in the folding area.) and cared less about the stuffiness, itchiness, and scars under my chest, I wouldn’t have ruined my college scholastic ability test that much. Does it sound like an excuse? I know I wasn’t the only one who unfastened the hook as soon as the curtains opened in the study room.
4) Comfortable No-Wire vs It’s Not Sexy
That’s how I entered university, and soon after, I bought a no-wire bra. The difference was that the wire was there and not there, but it felt incomparably more comfortable. Maybe it was because of the wire that forcefully held my chest, or the placebo effect of the name “no-wire” that added to the effect.
I became a no-wire bra preacher. But my friends in their early 20s, who were already tamed by society, did not budge an inch. The reasons were that their chest would droop, or no-wire bras are not sexy or worn by grandmothers. My bra clearly had lace (Is it not sexy with lace? What is the sexy that bra gives? Do we have to be sexy? What is sexy?), and the only difference with my friends’ bras was that there were no wires. I still have doubts.
Until a few years, no, a few months ago, when we lived in a world where it was obvious to not show our bras, let alone our chest, this world was much different. As soon as we turned twenty, we started wearing tops that clearly showed cleavage, while some announced the position of their bra with colorful straps. The see-through fashion trend made white shirts and black bra popular. More friends started looking for “more visible, more voluminous!” We tried to match the style that would be attractive to the opposite sex that we learned so far and fit ourselves into that gaze.
While more friends started looking for super-padded bras that were beyond padded bras, I decided to solve the stuffiness that couldn’t be solved with no wires with bigger-sized bras. I felt a sense of freedom when I wore a bra one inch bigger than my regular under chest circumference. If I had known of the existence of bralettes at that time, I wouldn't have bought the bra, but it was the best thing at the time. But even that didn’t solve the itchiness at the bottom. It just didn’t tighten around my chest, but it still bothered me around the rim. What’s funny is that I wore underwear that my mom bought me until then. I never went to an underwear store to measure my size. I have no reasons why.
5) Super-padded bra’s temptation
Afterwards, I bought my own underwear for the first time during a trip with close friends. It was a famous underwear store in Canada, and they had underwear with a lot of lace that may or may not cover the right things. I felt embarrassed thinking about wearing something like that, but on the other hand, I wanted to try them on, but the biggest concern was “What would my mom say when she sees this?” I could only think about her criticizing me that I’m basically naked.
I got to know my chest size for the first time in Canada. I was shocked that it was a different size than what I thought it was. After the secondary sexual characteristics finished developing, I hadn’t worn underwear that gathered my chest. I also felt awkward that the alphabet I heard for the first time at an underwear store I went to for the first time in my life fit my chest. And I decided because I liked the size: “I think I can have one or two super-padded bras. I’m going to buy a super-padded bra that fits my size as soon as I go back to Korea.”
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