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The Natural Breast Movement

December 15, 2010

“The Natural Breast Movement” (天乳运动)
By: Mo Zhu (墨珠)
Published in Beiyang Huabao (北样画报) July 30, 1927

“In the age of improving women’s lives, the government of Guangdong province has ordered a ban on women’s breast-binding (妇女束胸) to carry out a natural breast movement…”

Mo’s piece, which was printed alongside the earlier article I wrote about, “The Majesty of Breasts” (which you can read about here,) begins with the above statement about Guangdong province’s ban on breast-binding. Just after Mo mentions this, he/she (I assume he although Zhu means pearl in Chinese?) says that to not discuss how to do this (the natural breast movement?) is also relatively the meaning from the “不着裤运动” (not pants movement??? NO CLUE what this is but later on in the piece Mo mentions discarding “little pants”)…As per usual if you have any insights, leave them in the comments!

Now back to things I do understand: Mo says that at first the natural breast movement could increase delights in the realm of beauty but he adds that it also has the “greatest benefits” in hygiene. What is far more interesting is the next issued raised: whether or not undergarments (小衣,) meaning breast-binding garments, should be retained or abolished. Mo says that the issue isn’t too clear – sexology doctors are enthusiastic (about undergarments) but Mo says that “we” must speak of the suffering. After this, I think Mo says that since breast-binding has already been banned, to keep or not keep undergarments isn’t the problem/question. The question is if we cast aside the “nuisance” (劳什子) or research it.

A few questions: It seems that undergarments (小衣) are associated with breast-binding and exist solely for that purpose? So, there is no need for undergarments once breast-binding is eradicated? What about the other articles (later) published in BYHB that advocate a non-pressing undergarment for women? Is the idea that once women stop wearing undergarments (to bind their breasts) their breasts will return to their natural shape?

Mo says that the “natural foot” movement (天足运动) made “pointed, bow-shaped shoes” (尖尖弓鞋 – slippers for bound feet like these) became “displayed objects in antique shops.” If true reform is desired, the remaining breast-binding undergarments should first be destroyed and then reconstructed. So Mo, like some of the other reformers, does recognize that something needs to exist in the place of breast-binding garments? But then Mo suggests that we give “little pants” (小裤子 xiao kuzi) and “little vests” (小褂子 xiao guazi) to little babies because that would fit in with the principles of “废物利用” (feiwu liyong – to make use of discarded materials) and prevent undergarments the pitiful fate of ending up the objects fondled by archaeologists (?). Is Mo’s idea that children wearing these garments will serve as a constant reminder of the past?

More importantly, what is the problem with the “little pants” (小裤子 xiao kuzi)? How were these garments placed in relation to breast-binding garments and why do reformers like Mo Zhu have such an issue with them?

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