Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why Most Indonesian Women Wear Padded Bras and the American Women Not

Every society has its own beliefs, attitudes, customs, behaviors, and social structures. These give people a sense of identity, standards by which to live and goals to strive for. The term culture has many different meanings, but it is generally understood to be a reference to the patterns of belief and behavior common to a particular group of people. However, culture is not a static concept, but rather it is something learned, shared and adaptable.
Some experts say culture is a shared assumptions, values, and beliefs of a group of people which result in characteristic behaviors. This definition captures two essential points about culture: that it has an invisible dimension (assumptions, values, and beliefs) and a visible dimension (behaviors) and that these two dimensions relate to each other as cause and effect, respectively. Understanding the cause-and-effect relationship between the two dimensions of culture is crucial to any kind of successful cross cultural undertaking.
East and West are commonly viewed as a very different angle of perspective for seeing the culture definition. People sometimes fall into disputes and arguments when they are contrasting those two big polar of culture division in this world. That is why the course of Cross Cultural Understanding exists. It helps people to understand and learn about others’ cultural background in order to keep a harmonious and balance relationship in the humankind.
This paper would like to limit the analysis on the values (invisible dimension) and traditions (visible dimension) of the East (represented by Indonesia’s culture) and the West (represented by America’s culture) in the chosen theme of: “Why do most Indonesian women wear very padded and stiff bras and the American women not.”
The Heart of Culture
The core of the culture is the values since it cannot be seen from the outer space. If it can be analogized, the culture is like a big onion. The first layer is behavior, which people can easily see the act of someone. The second layer is tradition, which sometimes cannot be seen if we do not peel the outer layer first because tradition is a certain principle holds by particular communities and/groups. While in the heart of culture is a value, which is invisible so that people need to understand more before they can make judgments about someone’s culture. Actually, values are something which underlies the traditions and behaviors of the culture itself.
The Beauty Standard
Women in Indonesia are very different from those who come from America. Indonesia is a land of culture – a land which so many traditions and rules and norms are applied in its society. Sometimes, this condition, whether it is considered or not, will restrict the society’s minds, not to mention the women life in Indonesia.
Indonesian women are brought up in a certain tradition which sometimes cannot walk along with the modernization and globalization. In this case is the wearing of bras. Before the padded bras came to Indonesia, women used to wear non-padded bras, means there is only a piece of clothes without puffs. When the bombardiers of glittery advertisements attack girls and women, they began to change their perspective from the word ‘beauty’. They try to meet the beauty standard created by Western view.
Indonesian Values
Indonesian women tend to wear very padded and stiff bras for some reason. First, deeply in their heart, they want to show that they are a real women who have (big) breasts. It uses to attract males and increases their confidence. In other words, they position themselves as an object.
Second, they want to cover and protect their breasts from any promiscuity and to show them off. Like what Ayu Utami said in her book, Parasit Lajang, that bras become an icon of progress in Indonesia. Thus, it has contradictory functions, which are to cover and to show off.
Third, as Indonesian women, which are Asians, genetically have small breasts, they need to show them off since breasts become symbol of sexual appeal. Breasts, for Asian males, are a magnet for sexual attraction.
The Indonesian value related to this case is Indonesian women are introvert and shy in showing their body. Instead of wearing no bra, they choose padded bra to cover their valuable organs. It means that Indonesian women still respect and hold the Eastern value, which is to be polite in not showing the part of their body in public places.
American Values
Contrary to the Indonesian women’s behavior, American women tend to wear no bras or no padded and stiff bras in their daily life. They have some reason on it. First is practicality. They do not need to take care of their bras or spend their money every month on buying must-have collection of Victoria’s Secret.
Second is it is not comfort as they are active person.
Third, some US feminists use bras as a symbol of oppression towards women. The myth of ‘Burning Bra’ appeared when there was a women’s liberation demonstration by New York Radical Women at the annual Miss America Beauty pageant in 1968 and 1969 held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
At that time, they protested the symbolizing of beauty queen. They assumed that all women were made to believe they were inferior because they could not measure up to Miss America beauty standards. Women’s liberation would “attack the male chauvinism, commercialization of beauty, racism and oppression of women symbolized by Pageant.” This event was also followed by the publicity of the myth of Burning Bra that actually did not happen at that time. They tossed the objects of female oppression, such as high heeled shoes, girdles, bras, curlers and tweezers, into a Freedom Trash Can instead of burnt them.
Last is the American open-minded culture. it is a condition when they appreciate their body as a beautiful form. It makes them fine to show their nipples behind their T-shirts. The effect is the sexual appeal moves to the bottom areas, not in breasts anymore. American guys think that sexy buttocks will turn them on rather than big breasts, like what FHM said.
There are no good and bad things in the culture, whether it comes from east or West. What the people need is to understand it. This paper concludes that culture influences the way of the people thinking.
* * *
For Him Magazine (FHM). Indonesia edition. March 2004. Vol.3.
Unknown. No More Miss America! (1968-1969). {Online} Available (accessed in December 1, 2007).
Utami, Ayu. Parasit Lajang. Jakarta: Gagas Media. December 2003.

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terimakasih ya sudah mampir dan menyapa kurakurakikuk :)

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