Tender, Loving. Armour.

The social expectations of the shape and function of the female body and breast have long been dictated by gender based roles, body ideals and desires of heterosexual relationships, and the natural flaws of the human evolution. Women have been wearing some form of breast manipulating constructions, like corsets, for centuries. It is a cultural phenomenon that has spawned all over the world. Going braless is seen as a faux pas, inappropriate, and even offensive. Others will judge, and we will often partake in the judgement of ourselves. Personally, I am unable emotionally to confidently go without a bra. While there are many women, both small and big breasted who defy societal and cultural expectations, it is still ingrained in the minds of many of us. I can believe that women are under no obligation to manipulate their body in any way, yet I am unable to give this to myself. Asides the dogma born unto me that natural breasts are un-ladylike, I exist within the population of women who cannot go without a bra, without feeling physical pain, yet I cannot find a solution without significant drawbacks. The natural weight of my breasts, and the standard structure of bras, that I have been wearing for 14 years, have caused me chronic back pain and the physical deformation of my spine.

‘Tender, loving. Armour.’ redefines what the bra is and what it can be, and to ultimately creates something that supports me, is a shape I desire, is sexy, doesn’t restrict me, and doesn’t cause me chronic bone altering pain. The mapping, researching, and defining of this project spawned from my own lived experience with bras and their side effects. As designers we often experience pressure to create for the masses and bring something into this world that is somehow perfect for every incredible variance within the human species. By allowing myself to specify the design process to focus on my own user experience, the final creation is allowed to reach its full potential, and then leaves the possibility for translation into someone else’s lived experience.

‘Tender, loving. Armour.’ demonstrates the possibility for designers to create a blended union between our synthetic forms and instruments, and the uncontrollable organic forms that inspired design as a technology in the first place.