The world's oldest brassieres were discovered in July in a medieval castle in Austria, according to news reports. Found in a large, unsorted pile of textile fragments, these historical bras have cups and straps just like their present-day counterparts. Carbon dating has confirmed that they were made in the 15th century.
The style of bras we are familiar with today are believed to have originated in the late 19th century. Now we know we were off by four centuries. And who knows, women may well have been devising contraptions to support their breasts long before the Middle Ages.
Speaking of this particular part of the female anatomy, a chest X-ray of Marilyn Monroe, taken when she was 28 years old, sold for 2 million yen ($25,000) at an auction in 2010. Were she still alive, she would have been annoyed.
During her life, the Hollywood icon was reportedly sick and tired of all the attention she was getting as a sex symbol, rather than as a talented actress.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Monroe was working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory in California toward the end of World War II when a motion picture unit of the U.S. Air Force visited and "discovered" her. Her pictures were noticed by a modeling agency. She was originally a brunette, but she transformed herself into a platinum blonde. The legendary Marilyn Monroe was born.
Aug. 5 marked the 50th anniversary of her unexpected death at 36. Monroe was found naked in bed, and the autopsy showed a massive dose of narcotics in her system. Speculations flew about the cause of her death: Did she take her own life, or did she accidentally overdose? And because of her intimacy with President John F. Kennedy as well as his brother, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, conspiracy theorists to this day continue to suspect foul play.
Her rise to fame was a Cinderella story par excellence, and her untimely death was the stuff that creates Hollywood legends. The images we see of her today are of those of an extraordinarily beautiful woman, a product of the 1950s Hollywood glamour factory, which belie the much more fragile Norma Jeane that still existed underneath.
Even after half a century since her death, Marilyn Monroe's presence continues to linger like a silver mist.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 5
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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