"I Dreamed I Won WWII… In My Maidenform Bra” Comic By Ayun Halliday Reveals Exactly What Our Underthings Can Do For The Country
What did bra manufacturers contribute to the Allies' victory in World War II? Quite a bit, according to Ayun Halliday’s "I Dreamed I Won WWII… In My Maidenform Bra" comic on Modern Notion. In a long string of historical events involving parachutes, mosquito nets, and rather questionable treatment of animals, bra companies like Maidenform and the women who wore their products held down the home front in unlikely manners.
According to the extensively researched comic (reproduced below), drawing from sources including the National Museum of American History's archives and an entire 264-page book called Uplift: The Bra in America , the U.S. government requisitioned materials used to make bras for boats, tents, and other military equipment during World War II. To adapt to this new market, Maidenform started manufacturing mattress covers, bush shirts, and one product you'd never guess: pigeon vests. Yes, you heard me right. Soldiers actually dressed carrier pigeons in vests to make sure they couldn't fly away until they had a message to deliver (animal cruelty, anyone?).
Back on the home front, with a large portion of the country's men abroad, women took up jobs in factories — including the former bra factories where the new equipment was manufactured. To "keep morale from sagging on the home front," as the comic aptly puts it (or, more likely, to recover some of its business), Maidenform obtained a declaration of essentiality arguing that bras were necessary to hold these factory workers together for the job.
The comic culminates with a soldier looking up at a wall with a pin-up girl wearing the period's famous torpedo bra. If I can be cynical for a minute, this inevitable ending — with a product designed to help women repurposed to serve men — can function as a metaphor for a large portion of the history of the bra during World War II, if you think about it. But where would the military be without a healthy dose of objectification of women? Yay, 'Merica.