Saturday, July 7, 2012

An Unsupported Argument

It is not enough to sift uncritically through the available medical advice sludging up the internet. One must weigh sources, review data, note controls or lack of controls, and check for ulterior commercial motives, and only then can you make an informed medical decision for yourself based on what you wanted to believe anyway.

So I was excited to read that bras cause cancer. My own relationship with underwear is fraught with woe and this news confirms my worst suspicions. I only wear a bra these days in order to not attract attention, in pretty much a reversal of my strategy as a younger woman. Supposedly the heat generated by a tight brassiere is conducive to cancer cell growth, and cancer cells appreciate a little shaping and support as much as the next cell. The underwire bra in particular is implicated, which doesn't surprise me in the least; the underwire is also responsible for unsightly ridging, occasional irregularity, acid rain, and world strife.  But the main reasons I believe this study has scientific merit are (1) I hate bras and (2) it runs counter to the advice of Miss Olive Pawley.

Mr. Guter
Miss Olive Pawley was the Dean of Girls at Yorktown Senior High School in the sixties. It was a terrible time to be a Dean of Girls. Even a few short years earlier, it had not been considered at all out of line for Mr. Guter, Dean of Boys at Williamsburg Junior High, to deal with the scourge of bangs on boys by butch-waxing the miscreants' heads into a gloppy pompadour in public. Such a move was not considered a fatal blow to self-esteem in those days; in fact, self-esteem had yet to be invented. But later in the decade, those in charge of maintaining order among the young were stripped of all such tools and weapons. Humiliation and coercion were out. Even the title "Dean of Girls" was soon to be abolished in favor of "Suggestress." Not only were girls no longer required to kneel and have their skirt hems inspected for proximity to the floor, but the dress code was done away with altogether. Sartorial anarchy reigned. Patched blue jeans and work shirts prevailed, and bras were out. Everything was out, and some of it was in motion. Miss Olive Pawley was appalled by this development which, she was certain, would ultimately tear down civilization as we know it and replace it with a soul-corrupting licentiousness. She was right about that, but not really on solid footing with the bras.

I was not the type to be called into the Dean of Girls' office, as a rule, but I was summoned there one day so that Miss Pawley could have a go at saving my soul, using the only tools she had left. "I have noticed," she said, "that you are no longer wearing a brassiere, and I want you to be aware of the medical consequences. Studies have shown that the flopping of one's breasts against the thoracic cavity causes cancer."

Which, I knew even then, was ridiculous. Given their location, where else are breasts supposed to flop?

Her real concern, I suspected, was that the flopping of one's breasts against the thoracic cavity causes erections.

Her information had been unreliable in the past. It was she who warned us that the reason our parents did not want us to drive over the line into the District of Columbia was that it was the scene of a thriving "black market in white women." I did not and do not know what she meant by that, although it had enough poetic resonance to stick with me to this day. But I knew the real reason our parents didn't want us driving into D.C. was that we would hit the first liquor store over the line on MacArthur Boulevard where the drinking age was 18 and buy beer by staying in the car and sending in the hairiest boy with the most dependable baritone.

Well, I keep my own counsel. From what I can surmise, sun, bisphenol-A, charred meat, lack of sun, breasts, colons, stress, and bras all cause cancer. Drinking in moderation is beneficial. I'm ditching the bra and doubling down on the beer.

90 comments:

  1. HIlarious!!! Bras are an evil plot invented by men. Here's to more beer and fewer bras!

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    1. Probably your prescription, which I endorse by the way, is more likely to have been invented by men.

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  2. It's always amazing to see what kind of trash one can fine online. Choose your poison, and you can always find someone to endorse it and someone else to condemn it.

    My mother bought my first bra when I was ten, because there was no other way to keep me modest in a sundress without wearing a T-shirt under it. No probkem; it was just the way it was.

    Women in our family soon learned that it was dangerous to run around without a bra, because the agitation was painful -- especially on stairs.

    I developed breast cancer when I was 63 and am about eight years out of treatment. I wear a bra now because it looks so stupid to have them hanging at different heights. No doctor has told me otherwise.

    The results recently published of research -- wonder who funded it -- say that coffee is much more beneficial than previously thought. I'll wear the bra and drink more coffee. Thank you.

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    1. I also used to wear one because it was painful not to, and then I quit drinking coffee, which almost completely took care of the problem, and then someone gave me a Starbucks when they first came out, and that was that. But I didn't drink as much coffee, and the pain didn't come back.

      We had one street that had so many potholes I needed a sports bra to drive.

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    2. Wait, caffeine makes your girls hurt? That's blog-worthy right there.

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    3. It's a fack. The nurse told me that a week ahead of time when I was going in for my first mammogram. Couple days of headaches were well worth it.

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  3. I only wear a bra nowadays for the same reasons, which means I'm getting all gussied up and going to town. It sounds like you have a good plan in place: no bra, twice the beer = less stress.

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  4. I remember the "no bra" phase. I got all excited, Mom said "don't even think about it" so I didn't.

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    1. My mom didn't approve either, but that was just one of many, many,
      Many,
      many things I was doing at the time she didn't approve of. Poor woman. I wouldn't have either.

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  5. Sadly, or maybe not, the women in our family don't get to go bra-less. Not unless we want to knock ourselves unconscious with a flying breast whilst running downstairs. We are of the Substantial Bosom variety on my mom's side of the family. Our menfolk seem OK with it and helpfully relieve us of the pesky bras at the appropriate times.

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    1. Are you of the Substantial Scrotum variety on your father's side?

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    2. I laughed out loud at that mental image.

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  6. I wore a bra, got breast cancer. My two sisters-in-law wore bras, got breast cancer. My sister wore a bra. Got breast cancer. My niece wore a bra. Got breast cancer. My youngest cousin wore a bra. Got breast cancer. Proof positive that BRAS CAUSE CANCER! (Of course my Mom also wears a bra and doesn't have cancer YET, but she's only 88.)

    Now I don't wear a bra. No cancer. My morning circuit training exercises are MUCH easier! LOVE my flat chest.

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    1. Ha ha ha ha! There it is! Proof positive! I like your flat chest too, sugar. Sporty.

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  7. Yep, my family is the same as pcflamingo's: not wearing a bra is just plain uncomfortable. When I was a runner, I had to wear three of them to get those puppies under control. I use my old bras as laundry baskets. :-)

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    1. Right. When I was a runner I just about had to wear three bras. Fortunately that little spasm of exercise only lasted a couple years, then I discovered the recliner.

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  8. As the summer heats up, isn't it uncomfortable to have the girls droop sweating down your chest? Flesh on flesh gets so sticky.

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  9. Everything causes cancer. Except beer. Beer prevents cancer. I have this on good authority. And if you drink enough beer, you don't care about what causes cancer anymore. Double down!

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    1. You dang right--you have that on good authority. ME! No need to go anywhere else for your medical advice.

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  10. ...aaand apparently now I'm "blog". Go figure. That's my super-secret spy identity.

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    1. It does make you hard to pick out in a crowd.

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  11. Myths, such as bras causing breast cancer, are usually started by someone with an ulterior motive. So I wonder who started this rumour - men who want to see women go around bra-less, I suppose.

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    1. See, now, it just occurred to me, in this comment section alone we have women assuming men invented bras for their own satisfaction, and women assuming men discourage bras for their own satisfaction. Which means, I think, that we have a chip on our shoulders, and men really don't care which we do. As long as the general vicinity is available for viewing.

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  12. At last! A medical diagnosis on the Internet with sensible and understandable citations. Now, about this little mole I've got right here...

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    1. You need to take care of that little mole before he starts burrowing and you end up with unsightly skin rumpling.

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  13. Your strategy sounds solidly footed in science -- I looked it up, after all on the internet.

    Very enjoyable read, Murr. :-)

    Pearl

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    1. Don't look it up on Hoaxbusters. It ruins it.

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  14. I was at a fiber event (http://knittergran.blogspot.com/2012/04/stitches-south.html ) when a woman at the next lunch table unbuttoned her blouse so a friend could take a picture of her bra. She wanted to prove she owned one, and wore it when she didn't want to look as if she were swaddling puppies. So I suppose she is a believer in the cancer link, or she just likes to be comfortable. I had never heard of the cancer link until today.

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    1. Tune in tomorrow, when I prove Republicans cause cancer.

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    2. I alluded to this in last week's "Five sentence Fiction" - http://www.thejadedlens.com/2012/07/04/just-weeds/

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  15. Right on sister and underwire bras are only good for pinching you when you lean over to take a bite of food off your fork so I guess they are a weight gain preventative.
    I'm well endowed and as the years have gone on so have the shoulders pretty much. I just read on the news this morning that bigger also means 'denser' and we're getting cancer too. So go eat chocolate because the days are passing.
    I don't wear bras in the house when I am alone and it's hot outside. Let 'em hit the floor. I'm good w/ that.

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    1. I'm relatively well endowed, or used to be, and they haven't hit the floor yet, even though I'm short. And about that "denser" thing--uh, that goes away too.

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  16. Nice.
    You've inspired me, Oh Muse!
    lol.

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  17. I only wear a bra if I am expecting company or going out the door. Comfort is the priority for me. In the 60s (before I was ever pregnant) I was so small nobody would have known if I was wearing one or not, anyways--so I didn't--LOL! ;)

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    1. I was even smaller in the fifties. So I wore a playsuit.

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  18. well, I quit wearing a bra at 19 (I'm 62 now) and have no intentions of ever wearing one. in fact, the best thing about being flat chested is that you don't need to wear one. besides, at the time they didn't make bras small enough to fit me without a bunch of padding. in fact, my boobs are bigger than they ever were, except when I was pregnant and breast feeding, then just one boob was bigger than my baby's head. I couldn't wait for them to go away. where was I? oh yeah, bigger than they ever were now that I gained 20 (much needed) pounds but I bet they still don't make a bra small enough.

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    1. Sounds like you are what my friend Walter called a "triple-A Band-Aid Baby."

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  19. Olive P.! My fave quote from her (on the occasion of the first ever WJHS "Be In" in the cafeteria): "Ridicule is a double-edged sword that always comes back to smite the holder." I never had the bra talk with her because I was too flat. Now, 25 lbs heavier, I do wear one when I have to go out. Oh, and since I'm allergic to latex, the elastic in my underwear gives me a rash, especially when it's hot out. The all-time DC record is 106 and we might break it today! Guess where my bra is right now? Elaine

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    1. That is the dumbest quote. You just try to visualize that sword boomeranging back on you...no.

      I'm guessing it's in the freezer, temporarily?

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  20. Someone said bras were invented by men? What a ridiculous notion. Everyone knows bras were invented to make it as difficult as a chastity belt to keep men from reaching the promised land. But I divert... I once had one of those procedures where they drive a steel eel up your butt in search of cancer. When the ordeal was over, I swore I would never get another one as I would rather deal with cancer than with that contraption. Seems to me the same can be said for the bra, particularly as women, ah... mature. Don't you think it may be better to take your chances with cancer rather than step on your boobs?

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    1. Honey, I'm not THAT short.
      I'm not a bra fan, but they're way better than a steel eel up your butt.

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  21. About the only thing I know for sure (?) that causes a new cancer ceLL is a slightly older cancer ceLL.

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    1. Keep workin' on it--you'll be a bazillionaire.

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  22. I couldn't wait to get my first bra (the training kind) and you'd still have to tear that thing from my cold dead body before I'd go without :)

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    1. Just to clarify, I'm NOT still wearing the original :)

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    2. Thanks for that, because I totally imagined you were. "Training bra." What a concept.

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    3. Give yourself a cold beer! It's 103 here now at 3 pm, BTW. That quote was soooo stupid, it stuck with me all these years. Elaine

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  23. Hey Murr! Breasts cause erections? No wonder she was the "Suggestress." Roth x

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    1. To be fair, pretty much everything caused erections.

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  24. "Training bra" always makes me imagine little girls, wearing little bras with little wheels attached...

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    1. I know. When the little wheels would be so much more useful now, to keep stuff from sliding off the sides.

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  25. Murr,

    I had no idea that you were doing such a witty comedy site now.

    Thanks for my Saturday fix.

    And, yes, my college days were spent avoiding breast cancer.

    meh

    S

    Supposedly the heat generated by a tight brassiere is conducive to cancer cell growth, and cancer cells appreciate a little shaping and support as much as the next cell. The underwire bra in particular is implicated, which doesn't surprise me in the least; the underwire is also responsible for unsightly ridging, occasional irregularity, acid rain, and world strife.

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    1. Oh, you mean you thought this was a political blog? Only sometimes. And even then, I try to keep my zingers well padded. Wait, am I talking about bras again?

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  26. Those pictures sent me into a flashback, almost precipitated PTSD! Murr, when I get my time machine working, can we go back to those days and interview Olive Pauley? I would love to figure out what was going on in that brain of hers. I suspect that she may have been a Sarah Palin prototype.

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    1. And she could see London and France from her back porch.

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  27. Your Mr. Guter reminds me of pictures I have seen of the high school principal who famously escorted the future Mr. Linda Koons to the barbershop for a haircut and told him to ask his father for the three dollars to pay him back the next day.

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    1. See? They used to be able to do that.

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  28. Apparently, it is mostly big boobed women who read this blog. I hope you will continue to allow the rest of us to continue to stop by. When did we begin to call our breasts "the girls" anyway? Not that is isn't appropriate or cute-just wondering.
    Even though I do not like wearing a bra, I do not feel comfortable without it. Used to wear the halter tops made from a basic bandana handkerchief and a few shoelaces, so I know the feeling of freedom, but prefer shape/control. Gravity does not play favorites.

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    1. Your boobs must be THIS BIG to enter this blog.
      I for one am not going with "the girls." That makes me squirmy. I have enough problems with body parts acting on their own to personalize them further.

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  29. I'm fascinated by the photo of Miss Pawley. What on earth was the "cafeteria situation" she's apparently contemplating?

    I'm reminded of a story told by my mother, who trained to be a teacher in the 60s. She was not allowed to wear trousers in college. She wanted to travel to college on a scooter and had to get special dispensation to wear trousers in order to do so from the principal, who sounded not unlike Miss Pawley. She was told she could arrive on campus in trousers so long as "wore them with decorum".

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  30. I have always hated bras/ When I was young and skinny and boob-less it did not matter as no one could tell. Once I hit 125 pounds and boobs developed, became self-conscious as had the "pert" type of nipples which stood out whether it was hot or cold! So I wore padded bras when I was in public to hide the little peekers. As they got larger with age, they were no longer pert so a bra became necessary. I swear that when I take it off once I arrive home I hear a PLOP! as they fall!
    I have never found a comfortable bra. And I swear the bra shrinks as the day wears on! No bra has ever given me the true support I need!! I sometimes see Beth (Dog the Bounty Hunters wife) on TV and her bras must be the best ever because she has full support!!!!

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    1. PLOP!!! I heard that myself. I was wondering what that was. It was you.

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  31. Right,well forty years ago I wanted what I have now and now I don't so,"reversal of strategy"fits for me ,too.Thanks again,Murr.

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    1. Forty years ago I HAD what I have now, only higher.

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  32. Too damn funny. When younger, I could never get into line with the going braless movement. Just too damn painful for this overly endowed gal who used to complain about her ballet leaps because the boobs bounced and flounced all over the place. After upper back surgery, the doc highly recommended reducing this mass of glands. Even had friends bidding on them. After removing about 5 lbs. on each side and going from a double D to a more comfortable B, I became bra-free and haven't looked back since. Have never understood this whole boob enhancement fad. Ah, freedom.

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    1. I'm sorry. I have such a vivid image now of that balletic leap that I'm not going to be able to get anything done today.

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  33. "...only then can you make an informed medical decision for yourself based on what you wanted to believe anyway." This was my first laugh in this piece and they just kept on coming. No one can turn a phrase like you, my friend. I wish I knew your secret. Please submit this piece to some publications. Genuis!

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    1. What's your experience, by the way, with getting things published that have been previously published, but only in a little-read blog?

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  34. The delightful Miss Pawley must be feeling ever so smug right about now!

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    1. I read "delightful Miss Pawley" and sort of blacked out there, for a second.

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  35. I'm so glad Jayne Martin shared your fabulous post. Here here to less bras and more beer! Coming from a family in which my mom, and both her sisters died of breast cancer, believe me I've had my nose in the research, hoping to keep that fate from myself and my daughter. But I think a good dose of laughter and a whole lot rebelliousness is the best solution. Thanks for your delightful post.

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    1. It got my mom, too. My plan is to go right through the age she died and about thirty years more, without getting cancer. I'll let you know how it works out. One should always have a plan. Thanks for visiting! Y'all come back now, hear?

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  36. Boobs...beer...bras: love/hate...love...love/hate. There is a clear winner here!

    Glad to have Jayne point me in your direction. :)

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    1. Jayne is very pointy, and we love that.

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  37. I only wear a bra when my wife's out of town. Still, I'm a little worried now....

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    1. In your case, that could cause Prancer.

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  38. I was a proud member of the YHS senior class that led the charge to overturn the dress code in 1969. I recall that the change wasn't quite that drastic -- the big change was that girls could now wear slacks instead of skirts, but I think jeans still weren't allowed for boys OR girls. My most vivid memory of the spirited debate leading up to the vote was a specially-convened PTA meeting at which alarmed adults shouted that allowing girls to wear pants to school was a communist plot (I am not joking). One woman poked an SCA officer in the chest (for which I believe she was charged with assault and battery). A fine time was had by all.

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    1. Wouldn't that have been the Concerned Parents Association? Chaired by Ed's mom? Ed? Come in, Ed.

      It may have started with slacks, but the next year, at least, we were definitely on board with jeans (as patched as possible) and work shirts. A perfect way to conclude public school for a girl with no money, I'll tell you.

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  39. So non-frumpty fashion choices are going to tear down civilization? Good! Let's tear down the old boring one and create a new society in which people can wear comfortable clothes, grow bangs, and cease worrying about gravity's effects on body parts.

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    1. My ears are every bit as pert as they ever were.

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  40. Imagine; "sartorial anarchy reigned" at Yorktown Senior High School. Somehow, I see you fitting in entirely with that sartorial anarchy, which I see you continue to exemplify.

    As to other forms of anarchy, you probably fit in entirely with those, too!

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    1. Wait a minute. Is this a dig at my wardrobe? Oh. I probably have that coming. At this point I wear pajamas all the time, until I go to bed.

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  41. I grew up before the days that the concentration camp look was fashionable with young women. I longed for big boobs and curly hair. I got myself a AAA cup bra and hoped. Eventually I resorted to some padding. When I was about 35, at the height of the woman's lib era, a sneering male at a cocktail party said, "have you thrown away your bra yet?" I smiled sweetly and replied, "No, it's all I have."

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  42. Bra-vo. An entertaining post. Anything more than a mouthful is a luxury and I love luxury.

    I should likely wear one myself but will resist. Man boobs are really ugly, though.

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