Take off your bra!

Okay, I’m having a terrible day, all because I drove my daughter to school this morning. (We usually leave at 8.00 am to avoid the traffic but today we were running late and left at 8.20 am, and had to crawl our way through the backstreets, and noxious traffic fumes that stung my eyes and nostrils like the fumes from caustic soda.) And now I’m sitting, writing this, with a nasty headache, my sinuses are pounding out pain from behind my face, and I’m trying not to think about the stupidity of not taking my mask with me.

That reminds me, I  need to add ‘ALWAYS CARRY A SPARE MASK IN THE CAR’ to my tips on ‘How to improve your life when sensitive to chemicals’ on my Maskology page. Then maybe I’ll remember.


Perhaps I wouldn’t have to if I could just whip off my bra (yes, in early morning traffic) and put it over my face.

This bra doubles as a face mask (for two)

Today I’m going to entertain myself (and hopefully, you) by writing a review on a bra. And a mask. It’s a bra that can be used as a mask. Yes, really. Why review this? Because it’s funny, funny in a laughing-hilariously-nearly-peeing-in-my-pants-funny type of way. Every time I read about it!

Because the whole idea of a chemically sensitive person (you know, the wear-a-mask-everywhere-they-go-type of chemically sensitive person) using a bra as a mask just cracks me up.

If you have chemical sensitivities and you have to wear a mask going out, I do hope you enjoy this blog entry. At least a little bit. And if you are a teenager, well you’re going to laugh anyway, but perhaps you’ll stop pointing and laughing at us chemically sensitive people when you spot us in shopping centres wearing masks, just for long enough to consider that IT IS RUDE to ridicule others. Oh, that’s right, (some of) the YouTube generation like to do that. Well, YouTube this (see YouTube below)! It’s just a friggen mask for charlie’s sake; it’s not like I’m out shopping while wearing a bra over my face. Now that would be funny… And weird…

Now, if you are a feminist (grass roots) you’ll like this too—well, the title anyway. By the way, have you ever considered that over 70% of people with chemical sensitivities are women aged between 30 and 50? Ever considered why? Or the fact that the majority of chemical based (fragrance) products are marketed towards the female side of the population? Well, this post is not about that. But do stay tuned by subscribing to this blog!

I don’t mean to make light of the catastrophe of 9/11 or the fall of Baghdad (or any other past, present, or future event with people getting caught in dilapidating buildings) but this mask would only be handy for attempting to survive this type of calamity. Or perhaps, if you’re at work and a newsflash on your Iphone notifies you of a sudden outbreak of SARS, or H1-N1 (swine flu) well then, you’ll have it covered in a nut shell bra-cup.

Okay, now watch Dr. Elena Bodnar, inventor of the Emergency Bra, take of her bra while demonstrating how to deploy it onto a suitably docile theoretical physicist (Think Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory!) at the Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, Oxford University during the IgNobel UK Tour 2010.


Note to non-chemically sensitive people: If you use Linx/Rexonna (or other petro-chemical/solvent laden sprucer upper-er) do not, I repeat, do not take of your bra in an emergency and offer one of your cups to a chemically sensitive person—it’s a really nice offer though! (Depending on their level of sensitivities) they may never make it out of the disaster area and your effort to help them will only suffice in hindering their escape (and even your own). You will be better off  either (1.) putting both masks on your own face, wrapping a towel around their head and carrying them out of the building; (2.) tell them to find their own way out because you sprayed on so many chemicals in the morning that you (obviously) don’t give a hooter’s boob about anyone else’s wellbeing; or (3.) go fragrance free for the good of your fellow man/woman, and yourself by using fragrance free products that don’t come out of an aerosol can and don’t contain artificial fragrance, and then, by all means, whip of your bra for the good of all human-kind…

Do you use a mask? Would you use this in an emergency? If you don’t use a mask, would you consider wearing a bra/mask just in case? If you were in this situation which would you choose option: 1, 2, or 3?


(If you came to this page looking for bras suitable for people with chemical sensitivities—my site statistics show this has been happening—then you could try Blessed Earth (AUS), GAIAM (AUS), The Allergy shop (AUS), Rawganique (US), Cottonfield (US), Blue Canoe (US).)

(If you came to this page looking for actual masks to protect yourself from other people’s personal care products, chemicals, or other allergens, AESSRA (AUS) sell 3M masks, I Can Breathe (US) (AUS) sell masks suitable for light (depending on the individual’s sensitivities) exposures.)

(If you’re interested to see what fragrance free personal care products look like in Australia then click here. For laundry care, here.)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder


  1. Miche .. I came to your site and read this article, ‘Take off your Bra!’ – because you had read and liked a few of my articles on YOSAKIME… and I wanted to find out ‘who’ you were. Got my attention, too. “. ) WELL .. now I know.

    I am impressed. Great article! Super video, too. I love Dr. Bodnar already – what a novel invention. Being male this re-engineered marvel is not going to help me .. unless I’m in the company of a woman who *IS* wearing a bra and willing to ‘share’ in an emergency. : )

    I can easily see the value in re-engineering devices of daily-use into multi-use tools! More of these dual-trac concepts need to be developed.

    I can see the real value in Dr. Bodnar’s invention. Seriously!

    The Self-contained Rescue Air Filtration Apparatus (ScRAFA) revolution. Regular, every-day items doing double-duty as emergency devices. Pretty cool!

    Yes!, The ScRAFA Bra, ‘From beauty to rescue, in the flip of a clasp’ . You’ve heard it here first!!.

    Wow! Think of the power and notoriety to be conveyed upon the woman who, “Whips-off her bra and saves people with her ScRAFA!” Prepared to the max! Now, there’s a heroine for you! “. ) I can see the Marvel Graphic Novels flowing off the shelves now!

    All jocularity aside though, your blog is a wonderful piece of work. I’m looking forward to investigating further.. !!

    So sorry to meet another fellow human suffering from MCS, but delighted to meet such a wonderful lady who writes with passion and clarity. Keep up.. DO keep up .. the fine work.

    And thank you for stopping by YOSAKIME, reading and showing you liked what you read there, too.


    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Hello Yokasime! It’s a pleasure to meet you… And, on my blog this time. When I found your blog, http://yosakime.wordpress.com/ and discovered the meaning of your name (acronym), I knew you’d be a funny guy, even after, or especially because of, the ‘circumstances’ that we meet.

      In regards to your comments, though… I had not considered this from a man’s perspective actually.This re-engineered marvel may or may not help you…

      My thoughts: If, in the event of a disaster, a man just happened to be with a grassroots feminist, he (or she) might not be so lucky as to share in the lifesaving bounty or wearing one of the cups because she, most likely, would not have a bra on to start with. But besides that angle, how would the modern, feminist woman choose who to share the ‘other’ cup with, you’d want to hope to be her favourite person there, you know? Now, a cross-dressing man would not have to worry cause he’d have it covered (in a bra cup), but for all the other guys, I hear Dr.Bodnar is working on a jockstrap that doubles as an emergency mask!
      No, not really… But it’s a funny idea. (Especially for all those men out there who think that spraying themselves with toxic-airway-constricting and asthma-inducing types of chemically based deodorant or aftershave, actually equates to taking a shower, he he… 😉

      Seriously though, in the spirit of equality towards both sexes, Dr Bodnar is really working on a shirt that doubles as a ‘shirt’ and a ‘mask’ (confused with a bur qua by the looks of it)! Take a look http://ebbra.bigcartel.com/product/the-emergency-shirt

      But, you know? Thinking about it, in the event of an emergency, a man who is chemically sensitive would, most likely, have his own mask, so he wouldn’t need to be saved by a woman and her bra. So in this case, having MCS/EI/Chemical sensitivities is a case of empowerment indeed!

      Now Yosakime, in a window outside of our reality, deep inside the narrative of a graphic novel, there is a woman who works as a physicist by day and a superhero by night, who, yes, rips off her bra—-underneath which, she wears a second thick skin made from carbon impregnated Tyvek–this, miraculously, absorbs all of the human race’s toxic chemicals but (in its own dual-trac way) also serves to ward of the male gaze, therefore protecting the men from the villainous practice of objectifying her. She uses the Self-contained Rescue Air Filtration Apparatus (bra/mask) to save those humans in dire need of rescue from chemical exposure. The notoriety she experiences and mass media attention she receives, is used to educate the masses–via the media-—with the intention to save all of humankind from themselves and their abhorrent use of chemicals infringing on the world and other people’s airspace!

      ‘From beauty to rescue, in the flip of a clasp.’

      Thank you for making me smile, YOKASIME! And thank you for reading…

  2. I can’t even wear bras. With fibromyalgia/cfs, they are too painful. Plus, they give me big headaches.
    Also, with masks, sometimes I think they actually work against us. They can trap the scents inside. When travelling in a car, yes, it makes sense to wear your mask. It’s necessary at the doctor’s office, too. But I find that, with the stores I am able to go into, it’s easier to keep the mask off. That way I know immediately if I need to move to a different section or leave the store.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      You know, the mask always worked for me, but lately chemicals get through it and the bloody thing ‘saturates’ with fragrance chemicals quickly; I’ve had a few awful exposures while wearing it, which does not make sense. I’m on the look out for a better type of mask. If you know of one other than the 3M, please let me know. I know where you’re coming from by saying ‘it’s easier to keep the mask off’ so you know when there is a chemical in the air so that you can leave; however, I go to classes and need to hang about amongst them, so it’s essential to me at the moment.


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Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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