The New York Times and Jezebel have chimed in the phenomenon of sexy nursing bras: Companies such as Cake, Hot Milk and You Lingerie are now making super lacy, racy bras for “working” breasts. These new consumer items raise questions such as: Can boobs be sexy *and* functional? Does a woman really want to be sexy when she’s nursing around the clock? Is this just more pressure for women to be constantly hot and desirable at all times?
The answer to the first brings us back to the Madonna-whore complex, the definition for which I just checked on Wikipedia and have to quote because it’s so awesomely phrased: “In Freudian psychoanalysis, a Madonna–whore complex is a psychological complex that is said to develop in the human male when he sees all women not as individuals along a continuum, but as either saintly Madonnas or debased prostitute-like personalities.”
It seems pretty obvious just from the definition above that it would be silly to think that breasts can’t be both sexy and functional. After all, all our reproductive parts– on both women’s and men’s bodies– are sexy and functional. It’s confusing to a population raised on the idea that Hooters is fine but breastfeeding should be relegated to the bathrooms but the basic fact is: breasts are awesome and milky and sexy and nourishing and wonderful. In fact, many men LOVE pregnant and lactating bodies– there’s something very luscious about all of this stuff, the milky breasts, the curves, the swollen parts. You don’t have to worry about knocking anyone up…
Now onto the perhaps more personal question of whether a women wants to be sexy when she’s nursing around the clock and sleeping in dreamless fits and spurts. I’m guessing, sure, yeah, that would be nice. But what’s the give? If it’s comfort, forget it.
I personally was OBSESSED with comfort and support (not just for my breasts, but for my entire existence) in the postpartum period, so the prettiest bra would never have made the cut unless it was luxuriously smooth and came with seriously industrious straps. The sexy bra companies swear up and down that they’ve have created lactation-friendly holsters that service everyone’s needs: mom’s back, partner’s libido, baby’s need to be sated without ten minutes futzing with snaps… So perhaps we can have it all?
But then there’s the idea that the freedom to be super hot and lust-worthy when you are so physically preoccupied with a newborn might actually be a burden. I found it pretty hard to make time to run a brush my thinning postpartum hair, let alone get all coquettish in a demi-cup like the woman pictured above.
Maybe we’re all individuals on the healthy continuum between Madonna and whore, but that doesn’t mean we need to be both ends of this spectrum AT ALL TIMES. I think when you’re a new mother you’ve got to give yourself a break. Not “let yourself go” as is often said, but ease yourself through the transitions and even enjoy these new ways to view and appreciate your body. For some women just nursing alone can actually help with a positive body image– these breasts that have been the subject of SO MUCH scrutiny (too pointy, too wide, too big, too small) are now given a powerful new, life-sustaining meaning. The maternal body is pretty impressive. And it’s not the opposite of sexy.
For others the whole process feels alienating and/or confusing and/or exhausting. There’s the pressure to be hot. The necessity to get sleep. The fact that you are so endlessly connected to a baby that the minute you have a free hour you’d like to spend it alone, with no hands on your deck. There’s a cliche bit of advice that if you want your sex life to take off: buy some raunchy underwear. But that can backfire if you’re not feeling it and just make you feel like the exhausted, touched-out, hard-working new mother that you are right this minute.
So, winding up here…. my take-away is thus:
I’d wear one of those bras during pregnancy and nursing…
ONLY if it was completely, genuinely comfortable.
ONLY if didn’t make me feel even less sexy/like a pumpkin in a garter belt.
What do you think about this new trend? Does it inspire you or make your head spin?