Undergarments: A Delicate Subject | Buzz Blog
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Undergarments: A Delicate Subject

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While there are some people -- fetishists, for instance -- who have long appreciated the entertainment value of women's foundation garments, I must admit the appeal has always escaped me.

But, oh, what fun those Mad Men-type ad execs had in the '60s! Their task was to take a touchy subject -- brassieres and girdles -- and create TV commercials that not only 1. conformed to America's "evolving standards of decency," but also 2. exploited the product's potential for subliminal audience titillation in order to maximize sales. ---

One of the best campaigns ever has to have been the one for the Playtex Living Bra:

The special effects are brilliant! Modern women require a lot of freedom of movement in order to do modern things like bowling strikes. And you know what that means: stretchy underwear.

The idea is to show this remarkable garment in action -- but of course, this was a decade or so before it was possible to depict women on television stripped down to their bras chucking bowling balls. (In fact, has that been done yet? Bill Frost would probably know.)

The ad campaign's solution? Make the model disappear along with her clothes! (But, of course, keep the bowling ball in frame!)

And you've got to feel sorry for that poor woman at 5:47 who shakes her head sadly, thinking, "But what about me?" as the narrator draws cruel, bumpy outlines to sadistically accentuate the woman's "midriff bulge."

Around 6:25, listen to how that spiteful narrator ruthlessly mocks the "ordinary bra" as "limp, shrunken, shapeless" ... words carefully chosen to trigger feelings of body dysphoria. Coincidentally, the era coincided with the psychotherapy boom.