In the days of yore, no African woman steps out of her home without a complete dressing. Complete dressing didn’t only mean dressing to fit but also to have all of the sensitive body parts covered.
At that time, a woman revels in her ability to dress without revealing anything. Head gears, pants and underpants were a must for a woman of pride.
But today, nudity is the new game. Interestingly, it comes with different excuses; vogue, fashion, freedom, choice and independence.
Young women, especially students in tertiary institutions, will hide under freedom to dress in skimpy outfits and move without hindrances. Working class women will plead vogue to dress the Western way, while a great majority will blame the economy, which has seen the price of undergarments triple and put women without means at disadvantage.
But, can that be why many women appear to be doing away with brassiere, otherwise shortened bras?
The brassiere is one out of a woman’s numerous undergarments. It is an essential underwear primarily used to support the breasts. It is valued and worn almost every day by Nigerian women.
This highly valued undergarment has seen various changes in designs and textures, since its adoption in the early Twentieth Century when it largely replaced the corset.
Bras enhance or reduce the appearance of the breast size; create cleavages, or conceal the visibility of nipples beneath clothing, just as it facilitates breastfeeding and reduces discomfort during exercise.
However, this all important part of dressing is being abandoned by mostly young women. Vanguard Economy & Lifestyle sought to know why.
Visiting undergarment sellers in Lagos revealed that from December till date the rising trend in the prices of the brassieres have persisted. The cheapest brand of bras, which used to go for N1,500 or N2000 have risen by an everage of 200 per cent to between N4,500 and N5,000, while foreign ones, which used to be sold at 5,000 are now selling for between N10,000 and N15,000.
Mrs. Nneka Ejike, an undergarment seller at Oshodi, said: “The price of bras have risen since last year. Even before then, London-used bras, which common people used to afford, are no longer affordable. So, business has been dull for us. The situation is made worse, since school girls have decided to join their peers abroad to wear tubes, instead of bras.
Maybe we may have to find a way to make bras attractive to them again, else we will go out of business.”
Before now, we sold a bra for between N400 and N500, but the prices have risen to between N800 and N1,200, as at last December.”
However, another undergarment seller, Adegbite Bisi, relayed a different narrative other than price economy. She said: “Yes, the prices of undergarments rise every day.
Wholesalers attribute it to the depreciation of the naira, but that is not all. From what I have observed, the other reasons are funny but realistic. You know, men attach so much importance to how firm a woman’s breasts are. As a result, most women, especially young enlightened ladies, improvise on fashion to keep their breasts as firm as possible.
And so, some ladies go for boob tape, an adhesive strip of fabric, specifically designed for keeping breasts in a fixed position and keeping the nipples covered. The tape helps push the breast together for more pronounced cleavage, or holding them in a slightly lifted and shaped way. While others prefer using tubes, due to the comfort they derive from it.”
But what about ladies who go entirely braless? They give reasons ranging from comfort to the desire to avoid breast cancer. This group of women are emboldened the more by the ‘No-Bra-Day’ annual celebration.
A Corp member, who spoke on anonymity said: “I don’t like wearing bras because it makes me uncomfortable. Considering my daily school activities, I always develop pains at the sides of my breasts wearing a bra, so I had to quit.”