Imagine the scenario. Excited new father opens door to maternity ward to meet his newborn with champagne, flowers, a balloon, and a package under his arm. The package contains the lacy, underwired bras of the Dita Von Teese Maternity Collection. Little does he know that it is the very last thing that any new mother wants impressed upon her by a grateful husband or significant other.
Unless said partner is ready to be whacked over their head with the box for their thoughtlessness, they have made a grave mistake. If they so much as brush past those bosoms after birth, they can expect to feel the full force of the be-ribboned package on their head. Hell hath no fury like a woman whose breasts are engorged with milk, and watch her roar if they are touched by anyone other than her newborn’s tiny fingers.
Von Teese is most popularly known as the “Queen of Burlesque,” famously pictured in her stage act posing in giant martini glasses, or swathed in giant feathers. She has modeled for Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier, and was married to Marilyn Manson. But when turning maternity-wear designer, did she listen to new-mother focus groups? Have they not told her that after Day One, as the bosoms expand from a comfortable B cup to a double H, J, K, even L cup, that a sensation akin to molten lava running through your breast ducts kicks in, and there needs to be space in your giant bra for a large cabbage leaf for nipple rub? Or that the very last thing I wanted to be was alluring if that brought with it the threat of being pawed at by anything other than my sweet and fragrant newborns?
“I believe that lingerie can and should be glamorous … and why wouldn’t a new mother enjoy beautiful lingerie, too?” says Von Teese in the Von Follies Maternity range for Destination Maternity press release. Because, Mrs. Marilyn Manson, the woman who likes to be quoted as putting the “Tease into Striptease”, a new mother has bigger and more important things to think about. And two of those bigger things would be lucky even to fit into your ridiculous lacy little numbers at a mere F cup.
Forget the horrid, scratchy lace with under-wiring of Von Teese’s maternity lingerie range—which only go up to the relatively pimple-size of F cup. New mothers want two hammocks made of soft, shapeless cotton sewn together and viewed only in a darkened room. No nursing bra should ever be outed in Von Teese’s signature pose, accessorized with a giant martini glass. They are about one thing only—comfort. It’ll be months before looks matter.
Is it quite clear that the 41-year-old von Teese (what next? Rihanna designing Burkinis? Michelle Obama asking Sacha to model her “Queen of the Trailer Park” T-shirt range?) needs a crash course in what a new mother can practically cope with in those first few weeks and months. The fake china-doll glamour of that promotional shot is way off the mark, and bears no resemblance to most new mothers’ experience of straining every fiber in their body towards keeping this squealing mass of new life alive, and not squeezing into some tummy-flattening corset-pants for the pleasure of her other half.
As the mother’s primary maternal preoccupation kicks in, the baby and only the baby is your focus. Any notion of pole dancing or crushing a giant martini olive filled with water all over you to look sexy is the very last thing on your mind.
You don’t want to look sexy straightaway, in case your partner might ask you to have sex—which for most new mothers would be akin to starring in a hard-core fetish film, something that perhaps Von Teese should keep to in the future, building on her career in Decadence or Pin Ups 2.
Still, Von Teese is a brave woman to take on the breastfeeding evangelicals with her range. She may have navigated the strip clubs of Orange County and discussed these places in a positive light in a Vanity Fair interview as “safe places for men to objectify women,” but she has no idea about the stridency of the pro-breastfeeding La Leche League International.
These women welcome only their own into their ample bosoms, and will pillory her for allowing those life-giving breasts to be turned into mere objects of male desire, rather than succour for baby. Von Teese may believe that she is some warped sort of feminist whose “greatest achievement” is in “having a hand in the revival of the Burlesque movement,” but the La Leche lot have spent decades making breastfeeding in public a non-sexy pastime, and they are not going to allow her to get away with a drop-down bra for titillation purposes, to bolster Her Sexellency Range.
Personally, I shudder for Von Teese’s safety as she finishes her Strip, Strip, Hooray Tour in September through Chicago, LA, San Francisco, and New York. There might easily be a Fatwa-style burning of her sub-bondage Madam X bras outside the clubs, with flaming buggies ramming her getaway car as “control pants” are pinged in disgust at her famed history of being a tightlacer, reducing her waist through corsets to a mere 16.5 inches (the size of a man’s neck) while real housewives across America can only hope to lose a few pounds months after breastfeeding.
The truth is, there might be a slim possibility of wanting to wear something “glamorous” and “beautiful” perhaps six months down the line after birth, when the hormones have calmed down and the mastitis has worn out the old, comfy nursing bra. Then, and only then, if you are among the 45 percent of American mothers still breastfeeding, you might just be ready to splash out $55 on something that doesn’t resemble a grey wrinkled dishcloth.
But until then, when I was still mastering the “double football hold” with a twin under each arm, I lived only by the yummy mummy maxim of “What does every new mother want in bed?” Eight hours. And no amount of fancy lace could ever have competed with the joy of sleep.