Playtex Campaign Embodies The Misery Of Bra Shopping

Illustration for article titled Playtex Campaign Embodies The Misery Of Bra Shopping

Do you love getting measured and hearing you're wearing the wrong size bra? Well, you're in for a treat: Playtex's website is the virtual equivalent of being trapped in a smelly fitting room with an overbearing saleslady.

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Today Maura Johnston wrote a post on The Awl about her discovery that the Playtex website, "Seems to be the result of some brainstorming session during which the phrase 'a more self-aware Cathy' probably cropped up. Ack!"

Johnston was particularly disturbed by the video below, which is embedded on the front page. It starts out with a woman joking about the dangers of putting on a bra while drunk. Then she advises:

You also don't want to put on a bra in front of a man. Because you really want to get those suckers in there, you know what I mean? And when you put it on in front of a man, you have to go, 'Oh my God, look how cute and perky I am!' ... Never do anything in front of a man that you don't have to. That is my rule for life."

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As Johnston points pit, "If one is in a position to put a bra on in front of a man, the whole illusion of cute perkiness has been kind of stripped bare? No?" She's also right that the bra being loose enough to store a cell phone isn't really a selling point (though I'll admit, I actually have crammed a phone, lipstick, and a contact lens case in there when the situation called for being purse-free). Warning: If like most American women you've have had a traumatizing run-in with a department store saleswoman, this video will give you flashbacks.

Though the first video is definitely bizarre, the worst part of the website is definitely "Roz." Johnston wasn't joking — there literally is a Cathy-like character in a video that plays on a loop. When you first try to check out Playtex's various bra styles, this video pops up above the menu:

First Roz asks if you know what bra size you wear. Size?! For all these years I've been picking up random bras from the sale bin and forcing my breasts into them. It's best to just enter a size quickly though, because if you take too long to answer Roz knocks on the screen and says, "How you doing? Heeeey. Yoo hoo." If you still won't answer, Roz babbles about how much she loves coffee, goes psycho and rips apart a daisy, then continues continues smiling at you like a moron.

Like all bra sellers, Roz has an insatiable desire to measure women and tell them the size they're currently wearing simply won't do. If you don't admit you have "digging straps" or "bulging cups," she'll go ahead and measure herself.

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Roz has bras ranging from size 32 nearly A to 54 DDD. Just don't tell her you want a larger bra with whatever "stretch foam cups" or "undercup support panels" are. In that case, you're just shit out of luck:

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It's just like being in a real dressing room!

Playtex Bras Website
Playtex: Lifting And Separating The Ridiculous From The Even More Ridiculous [The Awl]

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Earlier: The Marketing Woes Of 36DD

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DISCUSSION

Le sigh...I am actually a professional bra fitter. I trained for 6 months, and I have fits thousands of women at this point. Couple pointers...

1. It would be amazing if every individual could get fit at a great bra fitting boutique. Victoria Secrets is not one of them, Sears is not of them, the Bay is not one of them (although the Bay is improving). Why? In order to properly fit someone, you need to a have full range of bra sizes to put them in bras to see how they fit, because you can measure someone as much as you want, but until you start to see styles on there is no way to account for breast shape, sternum placement, spine curvature, wire sensitivity etc. etc. The problem with being fit at the above places is they only carry about 20% of the average size range. Victoria Secret/La Senza only carry about 20 sizes. To you give perspective our boutique carries about 100 sizes, and there are still sizes I wish we had that don't exist yet or our owner won't stock because they are so rare. Getting fit at a poorly stocked store is like buying shoes at a place that only carries sizes 6-8. Will a lot of women find something they can squeeze into there? Yes, but most people will end up in the wrong size with some discomfort.

2. That said, it sucks because not many women have access to great bra fitting boutiques and even then each boutique's technique varies slightly and it may take sometime to find the approach that works for you. Our store is pretty almost militant about our fits, we base our fitting on the engineering of the bra, how the engineers and designers behind the bra created them to fit. Other stores are more laid back and will fit more for personal preference. That said, our boutique is the most popular in our city and people travel from around the world to visit us. What I recommend if you don't have access to a bra fitting boutique in your area is the next time you get to travel somewhere, google "bra fitting name of destination" and see what is available to you. You would be surprised at the places that have great boutiques that are not major cities.

3. A good bra is expensive. You are wearing this item every single day. It should cost more than your tee-shirt, it may even cost more than your jeans. Why? A good fitting bra is designed by engineers, not just designers, so that for that particular size (32C, 30GG, 36E) it can be the best fit possible for as many shapes as possible. It should also use better quality materials. Real lace cost money. Having 40 different sizes of wire cost money. High quality foam costs money. Good elastic costs money. And elastic is key.

4. Your back should always always always always always run parallel to the floor. If your back is riding up, guess what is dropping forward? Your breasts. This is why you want a high quality elastic. The back (elastic) is the first part of a bra to break down. This part of the bra will only stretch out and get looser and looser from the moment you wear it. So the cheaper the bra, the quicker the elastic breaks down, the sooner your band ends up near your shoulder blades. Were you fit and the back never sat parallel? Your fitter didn't have your size and cheated you by putting you in a bigger back to make your cup fit. Were you fit on the tightest set of hooks? Your fitter didn't have your size and cheated you by putting you in a bigger back to make your cup fit.

5. Your wire should never ever ever ever be on breast tissue. It should always sit ever so slightly just outside your breast tissue as to avoid chafing, discomfort and scarring. You should be able to put your bra on, scoop your breast tissue into the cup from the side and bottom and have all your breast fit within the wires and material of the cup. If you do this and your breasts pop out the top, your fitter put you in a cup that is too small. If you do this and the wire comes away from your body at an angle, your fitter put you in a cup that is to small. If you do this and when you lift your arms up you slide out the bottom, your fitter put you in a cup that is too small.

6. So what does a good fit look like? At our store we always educate our customers because a good bra fitting boutique wants to do more than make a quick buck, they want to see all women in the best size and styles for their bodies. Every once and awhile I get a lady in, for whom our boutique is just out of their budget. And I am more than happy to take her back, fit her, and educate her on what she should be looking for in a great fitting bra, even if she needs to find it elsewhere. The major points...

-Back is snug enough to lay parallel to the floor all day, when you move around. It should be firm with about an inch of give if you pull.

-After you have scooped up and in to your bra the wire should lay just outside (by like 1 millimeter) the breast tissue. In the center it should be flush to the sternum or parallel to the body, without driving in.

-The straps should be comfortable with the LEAST amount of weight on them. If you tighten your straps too much you will pull even the snuggest back up and your cups will drop forward. An inch of give is ideal, the fabric in straps has more give (because it is not designed to carry all the weight) so it should not feel as firm as the inch of give in the back.

-You should have no breast tissue popping out of the cup, and minimal space or gaping in a cup. Bear in mind that in is natural to have space in the area near your armpits. Why? Statistically speaking the odds are not in your favor genetically to be that round and full there. Some women are, but that particular look today is most often (not always) the result of breast augmentation. There is space in this area because the bra is transitioning from a wide cup, to a relatively narrow strap. Also if you prefer lined cups or t-shirt bras you may end up with more space because these bras are literally baked on molds. Molds don't move, your body does, eventually you will move your body and your breasts in a way the mold cannot follow.

7. Finally any fitter worth her salt, and any boutique worth spending money at SHOULD NEVER BE PART OF THE PROCESS OF BODY SHAME. My job is exhausting emotionally in that day in and out I hear what women hate about themselves. A good fitting boutique should help you embrace your size, not freak out about it. Remember how I said a lot of stores only want to carry 20% of the sizes available? I am talking about 32A to 42 DD. That is the bottom 20 %. Our boutique carries from a 28AA up to a 46N. So 32DD is not a big size. 34 FF is one of our most popular sizes and indicative of a beautiful figure that most women would kill for. 42H is a fuller size, but there are lots of ladies who are that size and just like you they deserve great bras.

Your bra size is just a number, and just like any other piece of clothing it is not consistent. For example my friend "Sharon" is a 36F. In her favorite bra, she wears a 34H. Why? The fabric in the back in looser so she needs a snugger back, and the company is French which means they do not make DD, FF, or GG. Which means the H fits closer to a FF/G, in an already small cup.

8. We are not miracle workers.

Your breasts have a natural shape and it can only be tweaked so much. For the average lady your breast should hit their fullest point in the middle of your arm. When you see celebrities or ladies with breasts sitting high almost near their collarbone it is a case of one of three things. Either...

-Their cup is too small, way too small, and it is literally pushing their breast out the top of the bra.

-They have had a breast augmentation.

-They are part of a statistically small group of women whose genetics endow them to sit very high and very firm, and so they are lucky to be meeting the current Hollywood aesthetic for breasts. Don't hate these ladies, because in my experience as a bra fitter the grass is always greener on the other side and they would probably love to have your size and shape.

The same goes for fullness in the center. Not all women are naturally full in the center, and this becomes less and less likely the smaller your size. While more women have this shape naturally, again a lot of women achieve this looks by wearing a cup that is too small, or breast augmentation. So if your not full in the center, embrace it. Its natural for your body, and do you really want to fake it and give yourself scars by wearing a cup that is too small.

That is all I can think of for now...but any other questions shot me a message or post a comment.

Your average, worn out, professional bra fitter.