Peggy Keener: A short, but uplifting tale

Published 6:44 pm Friday, May 13, 2022

Many decades ago when I first lived in Tokyo—sometimes referred to as the dark side of the moon—a quarrel erupted. It seemed that bras were making the headlines.

One learned gentleman discovered that for a brassiere to fit properly, not one, but two measurements were needed. This genius was, as I said, a male; a male who knew nothing whatsoever about this contrivance. His discovery, nonetheless, begged the question of what had Japanese women been wearing before this breakthrough … two rice bowls on a string?

Not everyone agreed with this scientific finding, however. An article written by the Kanto Foundation Industry Cooperative Union (whew!), stated that a correct brassiere size must be dictated only by the measurement of the under bust and not the top bust. (Bet you didn’t know there were two halves?)

With that statement I knew for certain that everyone in the local bra industry (the Kanto Foundation Industry Cooperative Union—whew again!) was a man.

Furthermore I learned that a divide had appeared in the rigid mindsets of some of the KFICU members, splitting them down the middle. A heated debate ensued over whether a woman should perhaps instead measure at the peak of her bosom rather than under the swell!

I could picture it … Tomoko-with-multiple-donuts-around-her-middle having to buy a huge under-the-swell bra when indeed she had only wee twin nubbies above it.

On the other side of the debate was the Japan Brassiere and Girdle Association who insisted that the bra size should, yes, indeed!, be determined only by where the bust was fullest. Reasonable minds knew it took two agreeable theories to tango, but in this case it was obvious that neither knew how to dance.

At loggerheads, both groups unapologetically skirted around the issue of whether or not the bra might function better if it had two measurements. Was, perchance, an intervention needed?

You see, in all the preceding centuries leading up to these bones of contention, no one gave a hoot. Only now an unforeseen urgency over computing the correct brassiere size was suddenly of the essence.

This, being Japan, a committee was formed to mull over the two sides of this sticky quandary. A vote of 16 to 7 was in favor of under the bust. But, the unrest lingered. What they needed was the representation of a true, honest-to-goodness, woman-on-the-street consumer.

A jury of folks from the Kanto Foundation Industry Cooperative Union and the Japan Brassiere and Girdle Association found one such woman. They drilled the poor soul for hours searching in vain for a concurring conclusion.

When it was all over and no agreement could be found, the woman was released. As she left the quarrelsome chamber, she was heard to mutter, “For the life of me, I don’t know why they asked me. I’ve never worn a brassiere in my life!”

  “The chief obstacle

to the progress

of the human race,

is the human race.”

Don Marquis