The New York Times' "Thursday Styles" section discovers flat-chested pride.

Media criticism.
Sept. 2 2010 4:58 PM

Flat-Chested Pride?

The New York Times' "Thursday Styles" section discovers A-cup vanity.

Bra. Click image to expand.
A woman tries on a bra. 

Newspaper sections designed primarily to sell advertising—home, fashion, travel, entertainment, dining, autos, food, et al.—harbor bogus trend stories in profusion. Small wonder. You need to publish crap to sell crap.

Today's "Thursday Styles" section of the New York Times, which overflows with fashion insights and fashion advertising, celebrates A-cup bra wearers as if they were some previously undiscovered identity group. (In the print edition of the Times, Sept. 2, the headline is "Where Minimal Assets Are a Plus: Many women these days want to showcase their small chests, not pad them out. Retailers are listening"; on the Web, it's "For the A-Cup Crowd, Minimal Assets Are a Plus.")

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The 1,500-word article imagines that the flat-chested are waging a cultural revolution against their oppressors—who are never really named. "[M]ore small-chested ladies seem to be openly celebrating their look on Twitter, Facebook and various blogs," the article reports. Many bra-makers and -sellers across the country now carry a wonderful assortment of tiny brassieres designed for differently abled chests! Don't think of your chest as a physical disability, the article counsels, be like your sisters, proud and happy to be a human washboard!

Evidence of flat-chested pride collected by the Times includes the establishment of "Facebook groups like Flat Chested and Proud of It! and Flat Chested Girls United," and a Facebook  page that declares "flat chested girls are prettier!!"

The problem with these findings is that the Flat Chested and Proud of It! group has 93 members. Flat Chested Girls United has 337. That only 2,356 of 500,000,000 Facebook members have chosen to "like" the "flat chested girls are prettier!!" page would seem to argue against the very existence of flat-chested pride. Or flat-chested appreciation.

Unashamed by its own bogosity, the Times piece ticks off the names of several bra shops that push flat pride, including one in California that caters specifically to the AAA- to A-cup crowd, whose sales are allegedly being fueled by the cultural shift, and an English site, LittleWomen, whose AAA-cup sales now exceed its AA-cup sales. The piece also points to the nonfunctioning smallbustbigheart Web site as evidence of a movement. [Update, Sept. 3: The site is loading now.] It names several A-cuppers who say they are happy with their small breasts. (Boy, that must have been hard to report!)  And it quotes a breast authority—Elisabeth Squires, author of bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls—who claims a "huge surge in Web sites and online retailers that specialize in smaller bra sizes in a very empowering way."

Yet nowhere does the Times writer quantify—you know, like with numbers—growing pride among the underendowed or increased sales of garments sized for them.

In other New York Times bra news today, its New York section conducts a Q&A with the experienced bra-fitter who owns Linda's Bra Salon on Lexington Avenue. I detect zero bogosity in the piece. And zero conversation about A-cups and washboard pride.

******

Thanks to bogus trendspotter Ted Sawchuck for directing my attention to the Times' A-cup story. For the record, I am agnostic on breast size. On a totally breastless topic, I am ashamed of you, oh, my readers, for ignoring my Monday masterpiece, "Who Said It First?" It got so few page views that I have been sick at heart all week. Make me well. Click on the link now, read the story, and then send e-mail to me slate.pressbox@gmail.com saying how good it is. For breaking bra news, see my Twitter feed. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type A-cup in the subject head of an e-mail message, and send it to slate.pressbox@gmail.com.

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Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

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