Bras could be improved in any number of ways.
They could have more comfortable straps, come in a greater variety of sizes, and perhaps most importantly, cost less. For some reason, men get away with $10 for a pack of boxers when you can easily drop $30 for the most poorly constructed bra.
We’re many moons away from the corset, but we still have a long ways to go.
However, in their attempt to better the modern bra, Japanese company Ravijour decided to overlook each of these concrete concerns and go in a completely different direction: designing a bra that allegedly “knows how women truly feel.”
Enter the True Love Tester, a so-called smart bra with a built-in sensor that reads a woman’s heart rate signal and calculates the “True Love Rate.” It’s a measurement that’s never medically defined—we assume because it’s completely scientifically unfounded. Nevertheless, whenever this “True Love Rate” exceeds a certain threshold, the bra automatically unhooks with terrifying speed.
Logistically, there are some serious problems with this structure.
For one, even if you assume that the “True Love Rate” has some medical foundation—which is a huge assumption—it ignores the fact that a lot of other completely non-romantic activities raise your heart rate.
Yes, your heart can start racing when you see someone you’re in love with because your body is going through an adrenaline rush. But your body can experience the same physiological reaction from going for a jog, and you really don’t want your bra to fly open then.
There’s also the not insignificant problem that if the bra can only be opened when you’re truly in love, its going to be really interesting trying to take that sucker off before you shower or get into pajamas—unless you love those things, too.
The biggest problems with the True Love Tester lie not with the construction of the bra, but the philosophy behind it.
The True Love Tester plays to women’s annoyance of being hit on by creepy guys, stressing that the bra will protect the wearer by staying firmly clasped until a good man who properly wins her heart attempts to take it off (in which case he should duck before the flying clasp takes his eye out). "Until now, the bra was a piece of clothing to remove, but now it is an instrument to test for true love,” one supposed human sexuality expert in the promotional video claims.
However, as well intentioned as Ravijour may be (and the two male designers featured in the promotional video make me question those intentions), it makes a major assumption about why, exactly, a woman would want to take off her bra in a sexual setting. Namely, the company presumes that a woman needs to be truly in love (whatever that means) to do so. That assumption is also accompanied with the implicit judgment that if a woman does want to take her bra off in other sexual settings, there is something wrong with her.
The promotional video stresses that shame by including testimony from alleged medical professionals to tell everyone what’s normal for a woman to feel. The sexuality expert in the promotional video simply states “women always seek true love.” Really? Always?
It shows how little the makers of True Love Tester understand about the complexity of female sexuality and our romantic and sexual choices that they have designed a bra based on this principle, and this principle alone.
What is even more upsetting is that True Love Tester operates from the mindset that women do not know their own bodies and emotions well enough to actively make their own decisions. Instead, they need to have their vital signs monitored to tell them what they are feeling in a given moment and to direct their outward behavior.
Unfortunately, the concept of smart clothing to tell a woman how she is feeling and, correspondingly, how to act is not limited to the True Love Tester. Just last month, Microsoft announced it developed a prototype of a smart bra to monitor a woman’s stress levels and send messages to her smartphone to keep her from emotionally overeating in response.
The silver lining underwire of these smart bras is that it is difficult to fathom women actively buying them should they, or some versions of them, actually make it onto the market some day. The people behind these smart bras misconceive the way women make their day-to-day decisions, so it is no surprise they don’t realize that women don’t wear the clothes they wear for the sake of the men in their lives, but rather, “for themselves and, of course, each other,” said designer Betsey Johnson.
“If girls dressed for boys, they’d just walk around naked all the time.”