Breasts, boobies, mammary glands, Bristol Cities; whatever you call them- every female mammal in the world has them, and they’ve existed since long, long before being squeezed into tiny outfits at the Tokyo Game Show.
When you think about it, without breasts, humankind wouldn’t have made it through its infancy, and none of us would be here today. This possibly explains why quite so many of us continue to be infatuated with them to this day.
Often seen as the defining feature of the female figure, many breast “fashions” have come and gone over time, and attitudes towards them changed. It’s not, however, just us ridiculous men who pay undue attention to the size and shape of breasts; throughout the ages, it would seem, women have been just as fussy about their lady-lumps. In today’s society, large, full breasts are considered the most feminine, but did you know that, in generations gone by, perceptions were very, very different…
RocketNews24’s “A History of Boobage”!
The 1920s: “The Ironing-board Era”
At the beginning of the 20th century, women with small breasts and incredibly slender bodies were all the rage.
Wearing tight-fitting underwear that literally squashed the wearer’s breasts flat against their bodies, women would dress almost like young men, hiding almost all feminine physical traits. Flat chests and shapeless figures were the body-type to be. Until…
The 1930s: “The Breasts Bounce Back”
It was ‘30s sex symbol Jean Harlow who brought breasts back into fashion, ushering in a new era of admiring men, and women. In the blink of an eye, women’s fashion become a celebration of the female shape, with lots of long, shapely lines that accentuated the curves of the female body, rather than work against it. Bras, similarly, came to be made to make breasts looks as large and plump as possible, rather than hiding them away.
In just ten years’ time, society went from being one of manly men and women with the figures of pre-pubescent boys, to one of soft, curvy women and slack-jawed gawpers.
The 1940s: “When Chests Got Strong”
During WWII, women were left to hold the fort at home, both nursing children and preparing materials for use in the conflict, which often involved a fair amount of manual labour.
Naturally, women’s physiques, particularly their upper bodies, changed, becoming tougher and firmer. But, with food rations scarce, women remained relatively slim. The war left countries involved with a generation of women who had both round, firm breasts for feeding their children, and the muscle required for working.
1950s: “Rocket Boobs (Not News)!”
Perhaps remembered best for being the period in which Marilyn Monroe was at the height of her stardom, the 1950s introduced a truly bizarre “pointy” style of bra that was incredibly popular, perhaps thanks to the trend of women making their own underwear.
Honestly, until studying these photos closely, this writer, at least, had never noticed. You learn something new every day…
1960s: “Free and Easy”
And in the 60s… no-one really paid boobs that much attention. Wishing to return to a more natural way of living, going bra-less, which was considered to be a somewhat sophisticated practice at the time, became common, and even those women who stuck with their supportive underwear opted for wireless models.
Can’t say I’d particularly enjoy having wires as a part of my underwear, either.
1970s: “Fighting for Equality”
Although not quite to the extent of the 1920s, the ‘70s ushered in a second era of genderless fashion. Fighting against gender discrimination, women entered working society alongside men more and more frequently, and the sports bra- practical and supportive- became a big hit.
1980s: “When Sporty Meant Beautiful”
Aaah, the 1980s. When fashion took a beating, and when actresses like Jane Fonda discovered Lycra and taught a generation of women to exercise in front of their Betamax players…
It was figures like Fonda, along with American athlete and Olympic gold-medalist Florence Griffith-Joyner, however, who prompted women around the world to take a more active role in sports and fitness. As a result, body shapes changed yet again, along with the fashions of the time.
1990s: “Nothing Wrong with a Couple of Curves”
Although men and women alike continue to pay more attention to their physical wellbeing since the 1980s’ fitness explosion, the sight of stick-thin women became less common as we neared the end of the century.
Both women and men considered a healthy, but naturally full, body to be the ideal. Home fitness continued to be fashionable, bringing with it monstrosities like the Thigh-Master and surprisingly effective ab-roller devices. But for women, full, round breasts once again came to be seen as the most desirable.
The 21st Century: “Cleavage, Cleavage, Cleavage”
I remember the first time I ever heard the word ‘cleavage’; I was 11 years old and my friend Graeme introduced me to the term while we watched MTV at his house. Such magical times…
But I digress.
Here we are in the 21st Century. Era of Nintendo Wiis, devices with ‘i’ at the beginning of their name and something called dubstep that seems to have arrived just to irritate me.
In today’s society, both large breasts, known as kyonyuu (lit. “giant breasts”), with visible, deep crevices; and very small breasts- known in Japan as chippai (coming from chiisai, meaning “small”, and oppai meaning “breasts”)- are very much back in fashion. Despite the latter having something of a cult fan-base, however, it’s the former that is stealing the limelight, once again.
Although previously not an area of the body that received much exposure in Japan, many young women today are trying every trick up their sleeves to promote their boobs; some going as far as to add a little make-up to give the illusion of size, or draw in additional cleavage. While many Japanese women have slimmer, less curvy body types when compared to western women, as our reporter Steven discovered last week, tightly-packed breasts with epic cleavage were all the rage at the Tokyo Game Show this year, despite the fact that some models had relatively little to work with…
Which brings us, sadly, to the end of our cheeky tour along the vista of boobie history.
Whatever the era, it’s clear that fashion and trends really do affect everything from the way we dress to the shape of our, or rather women’s, bodies. We here at RocketNews24 can’t help but wonder what the next 10 or 15 years will bring…
[ Read in Japanese ]