There are people in this world who, in part, wear bras to hide the features of their breasts. It’s an extra layer of fabric between them and the outside world.
And then there are the people in Kim Kardashian’s target audience.
SKIMS is rolling out what it calls The Ultimate Nipple Bra.
And while the ads for it are tongue-in-cheek, it’s a real product. Kim is getting real praise, too — from cancer survivors.
SKIMS is Kim’s shapewear brand. A lot of what she sells is underwear.
And while her color scheme leaves a lot to be desired, business is booming. Her menswear just landed a major deal with the NBA — you’ve probably seen the ads with athletes posting thirst traps in it.
But to advertise the Ultimate Nipple Bra, Kim isn’t just hiring a litany of models to wear it. She’s putting herself front and center.
On the surface, Kim’s bra appears to be salacious. Hard, perky nipples aren’t necessarily an indicator of arousal, but they can be.
Nipples are some of the most significant erogenous zones on the human body, and our society’s prudish squeamishness about toplessness has made even a hint of a detail about a breast into a tantalizing tease.
As The Guardian notes, Kim has long tied her clothing brand to creating “clothes that make you look more naked than you would naked.”
But the “shock factor” aside, this product is earning real praise.
If you look on social media, you’ll see comment after comment wherever Kim is advertising The Ultimate Nipple Bra.
Breast cancer survivors (among others) sometimes lose their nipples entirely. Bras can help some survivors to give themselves a traditional torso shape, but this takes things one step further: by adding a fairly naturally placed nipple.
There is actually something of a word-of-mouth market for many breast cancer survivors.
(Some people have breast reductions or removals voluntarily and this might not apply to them. On the other hand, botches surgeries, horrific burns, and other mishaps could feel very similarly to the vocal breast cancer survivors who are addressing this product)
Some people craft homemade inserts for someone who’s had a mastectomy. These can be crafted in molds or, and I am not kidding, knit. You can find some on Etsy, while others might sell only within a support group.
But, simply put, making something for yourself and others is hard.
Crafting a convincing breast shape, complete with all of the expected features (and without too much weight), requires time, energy, and skill.
Fighting cancer, even if you emerge victorious, can take a lot from you. Having something available on a mass market could be very affirming to survivors who find that winning their battle with cancer has left their self-image in tatters.
Obviously, a nipple bra cannot give you back sensation on that side of your chest, with or without a breast there. Not for sex, not for bonding with a nursing baby.
But it can feel right. And it can help someone to give off a look that doesn’t suggest that they’ve had a mastectomy.
Sure, not every situation considers it “appropriate” for you to have tatas that look like they could cut glass. But sometimes, it’s nice to be noticed.