When is an ill-fitting bra like domestic violence? When you ask Amante. (Or Jezebel.)

[Warning for references to domestic violence.]

The ad says,

Suffocation is the worst kind of abuse.

Is suffocation really the worst kind of abuse? I don’t know, frankly; considering the range of horrible things done to women by partners and family, it’s kind of hard to rank them all. But I feel comfortable saying that suffocating one’s breasts with an overly tight bra ranks so far down the list as to not warrant even joking comparison.

8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra and don’t even know it. A bra that is too tight constricts your rib cage; leading to bigger health problems.

The ad campaign for Indian lingerie brand Amante also notes that “it always starts with the little nicks and cuts,” informing you that “if you notice painful strap-marks on your shoulders, it’s time to go down a band size.”

“How much longer will you adjust?” “Respect the space you really deserve.” “Every woman deserves to be held right.” “Don’t let anyone ruin your confidence.” You deserve to be treated well! By your bra. Because a partner who makes you feel like shit is like a bra that lets your boobs sag. Get it?

Not everyone agrees that the campaign is objectively horrible. Amante CEO John Chiramel says the campaign has been “carefully thought through, in not trying to objectify women, but more about dealing with the real issues and educating the consumer, so that they have an enjoyable experience wearing fine lingerie.” And Jezebel’s Dodai Stewart appreciates that, saying, “Even if you don’t like the ‘worst kind of abuse’ slogan, the company deserves kudos for attempting to think outside the cleavage.”

No, the campaign doesn’t flash skin and turn women into sex objects. Rather, it turns survivors of domestic abuse into a metaphor for improperly squeezed boobies. That’s far less offensive. It trivializes violence to draw attention to the real issue, which is bras that pinch. And for good measure it places the burden on the “victim”–the owner of said boobies–to remove herself from the situation by “break[ing] up with the wrong bra.” Because escaping an abusive relationship is just that easy.

So no, Dodai, no, Amante doesn’t get points for not showing boobs in the ad. Trading one classic–“Look! Tits!”–for another far more offensive classic–“Ha! Abuse is funny if it isn’t happening to me!”–earns no points. Carefully thinking it through and deciding that the only alternative to showing skin is to trivialize domestic violence earns no points. What is wrong with you?

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10 Responses to When is an ill-fitting bra like domestic violence? When you ask Amante. (Or Jezebel.)

  1. SophiaBlue says:

    “Well, what do you want from us? I mean you didn’t like us objectifying women, so this is what we went with. I mean, I guess we could try patronizing women, or implying they’re sluts, or…

    What’s that? You want us to run ads that aren’t horrible to women in some way? I’m not sure I understand”

  2. samanthab says:

    Hmm… yeah of course everything said here needs to be said, but I will also add that manipulative bullshit that insults our intelligence is not what I’d call a gift to lady-kind. Even if you run with the suspect assertion that “8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong bra,” that does not in fact lead to the conclusion that the majority of all wearing bras that cause constriction. The “wrong bra” could be a too pink bra, a too loose bra, a bra with straps that pop out. Who the hell knows? Fuck you, Amante, for telling me I’m too stupid to see through inane bullshit, pick out a bra, and that my quality of life stems from the quality of my breasts.

    I’ve been in an abusive relationship, and the number one driver of an abuser, per my experience and per everything I’ve ever read by a relevant mental health professional, is control. It’s about the removal of agency, and the unrelenting message that you are not fit to take helm of your own life. When you tell women they’re too stupid to pick out their own bra, it’s on the spectrum of abuse. Yes, it may be very low on the spectrum, but it’s there.

    Dodai is seriously, seriously off the mark here. I’d take a bra company telling me that my bra is, y’know, about my breasts than about my intelligence any day.

  3. miga says:

    This might be a derail, so i’m just gonna post and scoot. But all of the models in the ads are very light-skinned and it makes me sad. It’s not surprising at all, but still…wanted to point that out.

  4. Annaleigh says:

    Ummm…I have to come right and say that being (really and truly) suffocated is a really really terrifying experience… and so this ad so offensive on so many levels, a) the mocking of abusive experiences (of many different kids, my specific experience here was from a parent, not a partner), and b) for people who have experienced suffocation or strangulation (I have experienced both), the constriction of breathing in everyday settings (like say, a seatbelt in a car that is too tight near the throat) is often triggering. I don’t rule out the possibility that a bra or another piece of clothing that is too tight and constricts breathing could be triggering to a survivor, and in that context the ad could be triggering for some people and mocking the people it triggers at the same time. Dodai really got this ALL wrong.

    • Annaleigh says:

      Ay yi yi, the word “kids” should be “kinds.” Medication is kicking and I guess I was thinking of that fact that I was a kid when my experience happened…

      • Partial Human says:

        Internet hugs for you.

        I experienced familial abuse into my mid-twenties, and as a result I have so many triggers, set off by the most random items or sensations.

        Abuse leaves mental scars that are infinitely deeper and more painful than the physical kind. Taking the piss out of that, to sell lingerie, makes me want to vomit.

      • White Rabbit says:

        More Internet hugs for you.

        I also experienced being choked by a parent, and my brother and I had to call the police to stop my father from strangling my mother, so I’m all too familiar with this kind of abuse. I find this ad campaign highly offensive.

        I’m triggered whenever something touches my neck. I have to rearrange my blanket Just So when going to sleep. Also, explaining this trigger to new romantic partners is incredibly frustrating, as there’s no way to explain it without dredging up my depressing history of child abuse – and warning a new partner not to touch me a certain way because it will trigger a fear of being murdered is a pretty intense buzzkill.

      • Annaleigh, PH, White Rabbit, I’m so sorry you guys went through that, and giant hugs for all three of you if you want ’em.

  5. Jamie says:

    I agree with everything said, and would think that the one time you would actually want to be showing breasts would be in advertising bras. Looking at the ads, I wouldn’t guess they were for lingerie and not some kind of PSA about domestic abuse, and it seems like an area where there just shouldn’t be ambiguity.

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