Wednesday, August 16, 2006

TSA's Sensitivity To Breast Issues

Surfing the web today, I came across the TSA's list of prohibited items to pack in carry-on luggage, and was surprised to see that the TSA apparently believes that gel-filled bras are so ubiquitous in today's passengers that they warrant not one but two explicit mentions.

Specifically, in one mention, the TSA stated: "We encourage everyone to pack gel-filled bras in their checked baggage. We recognize the sensitivity of the issue and we are reaching out to key women’s medical associations to assist passengers and make information available to them while respecting their privacy."

Can it be possible that so many women wear gel-filled bras when flying that a specific directive to them was necessary? Putting the numbers issue aside, I guess I'm surprised that any woman would wear gel-filled bras on a day-to-day basis, much less to travel. I can see them at a club or going out when women want to highlight and accentuize their busts, but on a flight? A cramped economy flight where you have to sit in discomfort for several hours? I'm assuming, of course, that gel-filled bras are uncomfortable, and frankly, I don't know as I've never worn one. However, I think it's a safe assumption that tying any amount of bulky gelatinouss material to your chest will not be as comfortable as say not wearing a bra, or wearing a light-weight fabric one.

The other aspect of the TSA's announcement that I find odd is their recognition of the "sensitivity of the issue" and their stated concern for the "privacy" of the gel-filled bra wearing women. I had no idea that the issue of gel-filled bras, or more specifically, the removal and hiding away of said gel-filled bras was a sensitive issue?

This reminds me of an Oprah show that featured women who wake up hours before their husbands to put on their make-up, sleep in their make-up, and go to other ridiculously unhealthy and absurd lengths to make sure their husbands never see them without their make-up on. The idea, I guess, was to create and maintain a fantasy of made-up "perfection" for their husbands. Nevermind that the "fantasy" was far from fantastic. Most of the women had layers of caked on foundation and Tammy-Fae-style lashes, and looked 1,000 times better and younger once they had removed all the gunk.

The show was sad because it was so clear that the women lacked confidence in themselves; the woman expressed fear about what their husbands would think if they saw them sans make-up. The women didn't want to let their husbands, or anyone for that matter, see the real faces hiding behind the painted exteriors.

I don't mean this as a diatribe against make-up, or even efforts to accentuate ones womanly assets. Far from it. I like and wear make-up, and on most days would not be caught out and about without at least a little cover-up, black mascara and lip gloss. I also like and wear bras that make the most of what I've got. Why not?

But, I don't think twice about washing my face and changing the minute I get home from work and lazing around the house with a bare face - not even concealer! - with Raj. I love that I feel confident enough in myself, and also comfortable enough with Raj, to be able to be just as I am when I am with him. For me, it's an essential element of a relationship; I want my partner to know me inside and out, and to love and appreciate me for all that I am - not to be enamored with an elaborate illusion.

The problem with illusions, like lies, is that you can't maintain them indefinitely. At some inevitable point in time, despite your best efforts to the contrary, the jig will be up.

Thanks to the latest round of terrorist threats and alert levels, the jig is now up for women using gel-filled bras to add a little umph to their cleavage. Those using padded bras and tissues, they're still good to go. But for the sly tricksters trying to create not just the visual, but also the tactile, illusion of large, pleasantly pliant and perky boobs, it's time to 'fess up and come clean. The quick-thinking will no doubt turn back to fabric and tissues, but for those stubbornly attached to their gel-pads, they will now have to face the ignomity of traveling with a smaller, malleable cup-size, at least until they can pick up their bras in baggage claim.

Why not embrace your breasts, regardless of size, just because they're yours and they're unique? If you're being generous enough to share them with any partner, the partner should be thankful enough to take your body, your boobies, and you as they are. Maybe with more and more women rocking the small-boob look, women will start to feel less pressure to maintain a facade, and more comfortable with their bodies and breasts they way they are. Then maybe breast size won't be such a "sensitive issue" and the TSA can go back to worrying about border control and terrorist profiling.

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Update: Bubbles pointed out that, contrary to my initial assumption, the likely subjects of the TSA's attention are women who have had a masectomy and are wearing gel-filled bras as a replacement for the breast(s) they had removed. The TSA actually permits "gel-filled bras and similar prostethics worn for medical reasons," but they encourage women to pack them in their checked baggage. That is, actually, a sensitive and respectful approach and I have to commend the TSA for their sensitivity. Thanks Bubbles!!


Gypsy said...

Great points! I loved read this.

And it's so true -- being yourself and being comfortable with yourself is crucial for a good relationship. I take my makeup off the minute I get home, and I change into yoga pants and a t-shirt or something. I'm home. I want to be comfortable. And thank goodness Lancelot thinks I'm beautiful either way.

But when I leave the house? You can bet your boots I'm wearing at least powder and some lip gloss. And I haven't owned a non-push up bra since high school

Bubbles said...

The reference to medical associations makes me think that a gel-filled bra may be used by women who have had to have a mastectomy. My Grandma had to have a breast removed, and she had to wear a bra in which one of the sides was this rock-hard fake boob-- which was very apparent when you hugged her. I am guessing that a gel bra is a better alternative to the rock-hard fake boobs of yester-year and does not require additional surgery.

Buttercup said...

Gypsy - You'll have to let me know your suggestions. I currently hate every bra I own since Victoria's Secret stopped making the lightly lined very sexy demi bra.

Bubbles - I feel like a jackass! I bet you are completely right, and OF COURSE that would be a sensitive issue for a woman who has just lost her breast(s). Thanks for pointing that out to me. As I write this, I'm sending mental apologies to the TSA and thanking them for being sensitive.