Boob Blog: Victoria’s Secret responds to breast rash issue

Those of you who’ve been following the sad saga of rashes that appear to be triggered by Victoria’s Secret bras may be pleased to know that VS is apparently, finally, listening. I was contacted by one of their “external communications” reps, and I was all set to let them know they had a tiger by the tail. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. It was not only a pleasant, civil discussion, where all sides were heard, but also ended on a note of “how can we make this work for everybody.”

People. How often in life does that happen? Like… never? Maybe the VS reps and I should take a seat at the United Nations and start working on world peace.

For those of you who came late to this party, I’ve been blogging for a couple years about a severe breast rash that I finally figured out was triggered by a particular VS bra, which makes the investigation into the cause very tricky because it’s not all the bras. Only certain ones. One random day, I googled “Victoria’s Secret breast rash,” and bingo: a CBS report on formaldehyde in the fabric. Since my first blog on the topic, testaments have come trickling in at a steady pace from women who had the exact same experience: nipples turning rough like sandpaper, and getting a tissue-like texture, and horrific, irresistible breast rashes that itch like poison oak. Many cannot resist the itch (like myself) and end up bruised and with broken skin.

And then… not knowing what the cause is… we put the bra back on, over broken skin.

The result is UGLY. And definitely not sexy.

A few women have reported this issue with other brands, but 98 percent of the women responding here were VS customers. And here’s the thing: Virtually all of them say they can’t find an acceptable substitute for VS products — they want to go back to VS but are afraid. You can find comfortable things that are ugly and matronly, or cute sexy things that are uncomfortable, flimsy and cheap, but nothing that compares to VS. That is product loyalty, people.

Some women got fired up and suggested a class action suit against VS, and I entertained that thought for awhile myself, but have decided that this approach won’t make anyone happy, except for the lawyers. Lawyers are the bottom-feeders of humanity, and they are perpetually ravenous. They’re essentially prostitutes with law degrees — they’ll blow anybody for a buck. And, in the end, even if a class action suit against VS was successful (the last one wasn’t — the VS lawyers made mincemeat out of the plaintiff), what would it gain in the end for you and me, sister VS loyalists? Forty bucks? Fifty bucks? That’s being overly optimistic. More likely, it would be about $11.75 apiece — don’t spend it all in one place. Meanwhile, the bottom-feeders are fat and happy, gulping down the barracuda’s share of the settlement. At the end of the day, we’d go through all the stress and hassle, just for a little pocket change that won’t even buy a pizza. And more important — still no bras we’re happy with.

Here’s the other thing: Upon further consideration, I’m also realizing that those of us who react so violently to whatever is in some of those bras are a very small minority. We are like those with severe peanut allergies, who could die from eating a drop of peanut butter. So, part of our responsibility is to be aware that we’re allergic, but it would also be nice if garment manufacturers could label products that may contain trace amounts of chemicals that are known allergens for some people — just like they do with products that contain nuts or eggs.

Will that happen? Until someone dies from a breast rash, don’t count on it. That said, while maintaining innocence about textile additives, the VS rep suggested something quite reasonable: Get a skin patch test and find out what I react to, and then they can guide me toward a product that will still work for me. OK, sure. That’s reasonable. I’m willing to play along, because if there is a way to get back into their all-cotton bra (heather gray!), I’ll do it. That is the world’s most perfect bra, and all-cotton ones are hard to find, let alone sexy ones (where I live, it’s 106 degrees today, hence my love of cotton over polyester, which makes sweaty boobs smell like ballsacks — also not sexy).

So, I’m going to line up this skin patch test. I’ll report back after it’s been done, and how things went with VS.


Seriously! Who would put their boobs in this ghastly thing! AND! It sells for $55.75 at This vile garment is an insult to boobage everywhere. For $55.75, I think VS could do infinitely better.

My other pitch to VS was a new line of products. I told them they’ve pretty much played out the “very sexy” thing. They’ve torn right through that envelope. They’ve done it all. What’s left? Rhinestone encrusted buttplugs and matching cotton candy nipple caps? There’s nowhere left to go with sexy. You know where there is somewhere to go? Comfy. Comfort is the new sexy. As long as it still looks sexy, of course. I suggested they develop a brand new line of bras that are hypoallergenic. It’s an open market. Google hypoallergenic bras and you’ll see bras so heinous, you usually have to be Mormon to wear something that unattractive under your clothes.

So, come on VS, make some all-cotton or all-hemp, 100% natural bras and panties, and if you make them in the good old USofA, that would be even better. There’s even a built-in test group — all the women commenting on this blog. If we don’t react to the product, you are golden. You will make a freakin’ fortune off this line: “Barely Me.” Not only did I hand VS a name for this product on a golden platter, I rattled off about 15 potential product slogans off the top of my head: “This is how sexy feels”… “Sexy is as sexy feels”… Seriously, I can spray this stuff out like a sprinkler set on “genius.” (Somebody hire me to do marketing. Newspapers are a dead end.)

As I was floating all this by the rep and also her assistant who was on speaker phone, she said, chuckling, “Stop! Don’t tell me anything more! If we use them, you’ll say we stole your idea and sue us!”

And I replied, “Oh, I totally will!”

And I would, if Barely Me© comes to a VS shop near you, and I’m not getting compensated. Because, let’s face it — it’s fucking brilliant. BUT: I wouldn’t sue over the formaldehyde, or whatever it is, because given a choice between $11.75 or having my favorite heather gray cotton bras back, I’d rather have the bras.


Fear not, my itchy sisters — ditch Victoria’s Secret and try Ambrielle bras

Not by virtue of any actual plan I set in place, this blog has unofficially become the “Boob Blog” — not as a celebration of our lovely breasts, but because it has become a place where women who have been suffering from mysterious breast rashes have discovered that A) they aren’t alone and B) it’s not a disease — it was their Victoria’s Secret bra.

The cure for the horrid, itchy, unsightly rash is simple: Stop wearing VS bras and see what happens. If your rash clears up… and comes roaring back immediately when you put it on again, it’s the bra.

No, you don’t have some weird form of breast cancer! You can exhale now!

A 2008 ABC news investigation indicated that the source of the issue apparently is formaldehyde in the Chinese-made fabric in some Victoria’s Secret bras. VS, of course, denies all of this, but will take back any rash-inducing bras and give a refund, no questions asked. That’s a LOT of bras returned. I’m sure they know about the issue, but fixing the problem might be interpreted as an admission of culpability, so they just keep selling these bras — yes, even NOW! — and women keep buying them.

Part of the problem, of course, is there’s just nothing else like a VS bra. Many of the women responding and commenting on this blog have verified this. We can find comfortable bras, sure. But… they look dumpy. The cute, sexy ones are cheap or don’t provide great support. Everyone is searching for a satisfactory replacement — it’s the question I’m most often asked — and we’ve all come up empty. (How sad is this… all these loyal customers, and VS isn’t interested in supplying us with a product that doesn’t cause those with a formaldehyde allergy to suffer miserably.)

Well, take heart, my itchy sisters! I think I’ve found something. The line is called “Ambrielle” and has lots of cute styles and a wide range of sizes. The bra is available on the JC Penney website. I followed the fitting directions, and although I was a bit shocked at the result, I gulped and ordered. For a site unseen fitting — not bad! In my opinion, the cup size runs a bit big, but not enough to send it back. Will I order more? You bet!

Another woman who comments on this blog also discovered Ambrielle. She’s been wearing her bra for several weeks, without any rash! I wore my new one all weekend – nothing! We both ordered cotton blend styles.

So, former VS customers… if you’ve been searching for a replacement, maybe we’ve found it! Give Ambrielle a try! You can buy two of their bras for what one VS bra costs!

Introducing the term ‘belly shame’ and destroying it at the same time

I googled “belly shame” recently, and what popped up? A verse from Philippians and stories about pork bellies. No one has coined the term “belly shame” yet? How can this be, given that nearly every American female has it? Maybe we’re so ashamed of our bellies, we can’t even say the words out loud?

Just ask women how they feel about their bellies, and most will wrinkle their nose in discomfort. They won’t even respond with words, and if they do, they’re derogatory. We hate our bellies, to a pathological degree. Why? Because belly shame is drilled into us from childhood.

I was talking with a friend about bellies yesterday, and she told me about going to summer camp as a child. She was sitting in a two-piece bathing suit and another girl pointed to her and said, “Ewww — you have rolls.”

“It was the first time I felt ashamed of my body. Before that, I didn’t know anything was wrong with me.”

She added another salient point: The girl who ridiculed her had already gotten the message that a normal, fleshy belly is disgusting.

My own belly shame began while reading a teen magazine. Sandwiched between a feature on Donny Osmond and a how-to piece on macrame was an article about weight, which declared: “An inch of pinch equals flab.” I pinched. I was flabby times three! I was horrified! I was suddenly physically unacceptable!

I was 12.

And so it begins.

By the time girls become teens, if we succumb to Big Beauty, we’ve accepted that however we’re shaped, it’s wrong. And there’s a product to fix that!

Except it doesn’t.

And we buy it by the caseload anyway.

Ladies, how many times have you seen magazine headlines that scream, “Ban That Belly Fat”? You know why there are so many? Because they sell. It’s not really about bellies. It’s about bucks, and how many belly shaming rakes in.

More recently, round bottoms and ample thighs have become mainstream sexy, and I thank you, my sexy sisters of color, for raising awareness that beauty comes in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Sadly, no one of any color has been able to do the same for bellies. Ghetto booty, yes. Ghetto belly, oh hell no.

I wonder if the source of belly hatred is evolutionary: Maybe our cavemen ancestors avoided thick-waisted females because they were likely already pregnant and therefore poor choices for mates. A tiny waist means fertile ground. A thick waist — maybe not. Maybe men are genetically predisposed to avoid thick-waisted women. Something to think about. Kinda makes sense. Those cavemen who got a rise for round-bellied women didn’t spread their seed any further. They went the way of the pterodactyl.

As for belly fat itself, true too much isn’t healthy. But I’m not talking about a 57-inch apple-shaped person on a path to heart disease. When I say “belly shame,” I mean average, garden variety, normal American females with average, garden variety, normal American bellies.

Women stupidly — yes stupidly! — compare their normal bellies to the perfectly taut, flat abdomens of the professional anorexics on the fashion magazine covers and believe that unless their bellies look like that, they’re fat. You know what? Most of those models don’t have perfect bellies either. They’re the creation of someone sitting at a computer, transforming women into his/her own idea of female perfection.

In other words, those women — those bellies — don’t actually exist, except in a “Plato’s Table” fashion.

Hmmm. “Plato’s Belly.”

Hint: It doesn’t exist.

Belly shame is painful enough on its own, but it’s exaggerated even more after we have babies. Except for a rare, lucky few, our bellies are never the same after we give birth. They’re plumper. They sag. The muscles are stretched and no matter how many crunches we do, our abs never look the same as before. Some of us have caesarian scars. Most of us have stretch marks — and, a thousand crunches a day won’t change that.

Most women look at their stretch marks and feel despair. The notion of wearing a bikini is abandoned, and we suddenly prefer sex with the lights out. We see flaws rather than the symbols of how our bellies got that way: by carrying and birthing the babies we love more than our next breath.

An interesting movement exploded onto social media via Instagram recently: “Love Your Lines.” It’s helping women to not only accept, but be proud of their stretch marks. Women are starting to push back against the “stretch marks = ugly” meme. If we can learn to “love our lines,” could we also learn to love our bellies?

Mother’s Day is next Sunday. How about taking the day to do some self-mothering and reject our belly shame? Begin by replacing your negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones. First, stand in front of the mirror and just look at your bare belly. (I bet you’re squirm already. How sad is that?) Cradle your belly, like the famous Gaia statue created by Oberon Zell, and for every negative thought you have, say to yourself — out loud, so your brain hears it —“Beautiful belly.” Rinse and repeat.

If your belly shows the saggy, striped signs of having carried children, here’s another mantra: “I love my kids.” Recall your love for your children, really feel it in your heart, and transfer it to the visible signs of having carried them. Channel that pure, sweet love right onto your belly. Your scars. Your stretch marks. Feel the love there. Trust me, that infusion of self-love will feel infinitely more wonderful than your lifetime of belly shame.

We women still have some work to do. We’ve reclaimed our sexuality via birth control. We’ve made strides in equal rights, voting, education, employment and finances. We’ve cleared these external hurdles, but still stumble over the internal ones — the ones that erode our self-esteem.

Let’s use Mother’s Day as an opportunity to reclaim our self-esteem, beginning with our bellies. Reject Big Beauty. Reclaim your beautiful belly. It’s fine just the way it is. Don’t be the one who tells you otherwise.



This Gaia statue was created by Oberon Zell, and can be found on, as well as many other outlets.

Women still having allergic reactions to Victoria’s Secret bras

Check out this comment posted on one of my “boob blogs” just yesterday:

My 13 year old daughter purchased a VS bra. Three weeks ago with her own money — $40. About that time she started getting welts/hives periodically across her back and chest and up her neck. Couldn’t figure it out. Went to the allergist. Nothing positive. Tonight she was getting dressed. Within 2 minutes I watched these long red welts covering her. She’s the one that said I think it’s the bra. She took it off and 20 minutes later they were gone. So happy to find this posting. She has no receipt or tags but I personally am going to try to get a refund.

The really frustrating thing, beyond the fact that this was a 13-year-old girl, is that whatever is causing these allergic reactions (formaldehyde is the leading suspect), Victoria’s Secret still isn’t slowing down with sales of these harmful products. They’re still making their products, still selling them, and still not (at the very least!!) putting a warning label on their product to alert those who are sensitive to formaldehyde that this product contains trace amounts.

True, most women don’t react to trace amounts of formaldehyde. But many do. Go through the “boob blogs” on this website, and read all the personal stories of horrific, agonizing rashes and welts triggered by Victoria’s Secret bras specifically. The stories aren’t coming in about other brands…. just Victoria’s Secret.

Of course the simplest answer would be to stop having their product manufactured in China, where consumer safety is a joke, or simply demand that all fabric used to create the bras must be COMPLETELY formaldehyde free — no trace amounts, no nothin’.

Should you find yourself tempted by Victoria’s Secret’s lovely products (which is the really sad part — all the women who are allergic to their bras love the product and none have reported finding an acceptable substitute), check the label. If it’s made in China, don’t buy it. Period.

No matter how sexy and slinky it is, no matter how good it makes you look… there is nothing sexy or slinky about huge red welts all over your breasts and rough patches all over your nipples. There is nothing sexy or slinky about squirming around at work or school trying not to scratch yourself as if your chest is covered in poison oak. And, there is nothing sexy or slinky about being consumed with anxiety because you think you may have some weird form of breast cancer or some other mysterious disease because no matter what you do, the itching and welts won’t go away.

Until you take the Victoria’s Secret bra off.

Is formaldehyde Victoria’s biggest Secret?

October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s the perfect time to talk about boobies, or more specifically, things that harm them. Like our bras.

In May 2013, I wrote about a horrific rash I kept getting on my breasts, and over time realized that it reoccurred every time I wore a particular Victoria’s Secret bra. I googled around and discovered other women reporting the same thing, as far back as 2008. The culprit? Formaldehyde in the fabric. The problem began when Victoria’s Secret switched from an Indian manufacturer to a Chinese one. Women who wore their product for years suddenly started having reactions. Like myself, they didn’t initially suspect a product they’d been wearing for years without incident.

But, little by little, I figured it out: Stop wearing the bra, and the rash gradually subsides. Put it back on, and it comes screaming back.

It’s the bra.

As for the rash, it’s not just any rash. It itches like poison oak or chicken pox. You can’t NOT scratch it, which causes welts, bruises, broken skin, and even then… you can’t stop scratching.

A lawsuit was filed over the issue (Roberta Ritter v, Victoria’s Secret Stores, Inc., et al, Case No: CV 08 659494) but Victoria’s Secret and its parent company, L Brands, having deep pockets for legal protection, and convinced the plaintiff to drop the lawsuit. Their lawyer’s statement is posted on the L Brands website (follow the links under “Our Bras Are Safe”). The lawyer states that formaldehyde at less that 20 parts per million (ppm) means a product is legally “formaldehyde-free,” therefore declaring that VS products are “formaldehyde-free” because they’re within the legal range.

The remainder of the statement focuses on denigrating Roberta Ritter. Blame the victim, blame the plaintiff — same diff.

On the L Brands website, under “Do your bras contain formaldehyde,” is this statement: “Victoria’s Secret does not add formaldehyde to its bras…”

But: It doesn’t say that formaldehyde isn’t already in the fabric before being purchased to make the bras.

“… and multiple, independent tests confirm that Victoria’s Secret bras are formaldehyde-free or contain only traces which are significantly lower than allowed by the most stringent textile guidelines in the world…”

“Or.” Or! Is formaldehyde there or not? It can’t be both. Unless you’re a lawyer.

“…Dermatologists and various authorities all confirm that even those individuals who are allergic to formaldehyde would not have a reaction at this low level.”


I have a few “various authorities” who beg to differ.

Since I began writing about VS bra rashes here on this blog, women came out of the woodwork reporting the same horrific rash associated with VS bras exclusively. Most disturbing — their complaints are current. The bras are still on the shelves. Even though Victoria’s Secret knows their products may cause excruciating discomfort to some of their customers — they’re still selling them. And of course they are! Removing ALL the formaldehyde from their products now would be acknowledging the problem!

As for the reliability of the lab results on the formaldehyde content of VS bras, I’m skeptical. Not all the bras cause a rash. I still wear some of my VS bras with no problems. The only one that caused the rash was the 100 percent cotton bra in heather gray. Beige or black — no problem. Only the gray. Others also report that the rash only occurs with a particular style of VS bra. With hundreds of bra styles in hundreds of colors, unless they’re all tested, as far as I’m concerned, the lab results are meaningless.

On my blog, I advise women to put those bras in a ziplock bag for evidence, to see their doctors and get the diagnosis of “allergic contact dermatitis” documented, and to take photos of the rashes. Since no lawyers seem to be interested in this case, I’m hoping a government agency will take notice. The issue of formaldehyde in fabric is much larger than simple breast rashes. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, recognized by both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Could formaldehyde in bras, to which our breasts are regularly exposed, contribute to breast cancer? Don’t you think it’s time someone found out? Maybe those of us who react to formaldehyde are lucky. We take the bras off. Those who keep wearing them are being exposed to formaldehyde every day.

So far, I’ve contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was no help. They said the bra itself didn’t cause the injury, the chemical did, and referred me to the Environmental Protection Agency. Both phone numbers they gave me connected elsewhere. One was some unidentified entity offering Walmart gift cards for only $1.99, and to “have your credit card ready.”

Great. Our federal government at work. But who else is there to turn to?

Yes, I hit some dead ends, but I’ll keep searching for the needle in the governmental haystack responsible for monitoring chemicals in fabrics. I’ll lobby for another look at “acceptable” amounts of formaldehyde in fabrics. If you’re allergic to formaldehyde, the “acceptable” amount is zero. If the product contains formaldehyde, it should have a warning label, just like products containing eggs, peanuts or dairy.

There’s the real irony — despite the misery their product has caused, VS customers would come running back if the products containing formaldehyde were labeled so we could purchase something else. We can’t find another product we like as much.

The simple solution would be for Victoria’s Secret to use truly — not legally — formaldehyde-free fabric. Sadly, Victoria’s Secret would rather lose our business than admit there’s a problem. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t take it seriously. Since I began blogging about this, and googling “Victoria’s Secret bra rash” shows a link to my blogs with many women reporting the same problem, Victoria’s Secret started paying attention. They follow me on Twitter. And I rather doubt it’s because they love tweets about my cats.


Why I left yoga (and why I think a helluva lot of people are being duped)

This is thoughtful and insightful commentary on what’s happening in the yoga world today, and hits all the points of why I prefer to practice yoga at home, alone. That said… I have attended those clothing optional Tantra couples workshops, and found them to be life-altering and deeply valuable. And yet, I can see at the edges… there is a lot of money being made.
I really appreciate this writer’s detailing of the various cultures and regions in India, as well as her exasperation that Americans paint the entire country and culture with one brush.

The Shift Has Hit The Fan

Like millions of Westerners out there, I too joined the yoga bandwagon about eight years ago after trying out my first Bikram class, moving on to Moksha and then settled at a hot yoga studio which practices all types of yoga in a hot space.

I too fell in love with how yoga made my body feel after a particularly tough workout.

I too fell into the pseudo-spiritual aspects of the practice.

And, finally I too got burned out by the practice, disillusioned and at times, even disgusted at the people who I thought should be setting an example to the rest of us but turns out that they are even more messed up than you realize and the yoga was just an effective cloak to hide their true nature and personalities.

For me, it was and always will be the health benefits of yoga which attracted me and still…

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The Boob Blog: women still reporting breast rashes from Victoria’s Secret bras

To my astonishment, this topic is STILL a concern amongst women, who are telling me that bras they JUST purchased from Victoria’s Secret are still causing horrible rashes and blisters.

Debra DeAngelo

At the risk of this becoming the Boob Blog, I must shine a light once again on the rashes reported by Victoria’s Secret customers. Despite the fact that Victoria’s Secret knows full well that many of their bras contain formaldehyde, they continue to produce the contaminated and damaging product. I started writing about this topic more than a year ago, and women are STILL popping up on this blog, reporting horrendous rashes and welts, and irresistible itching.

The issue of breast rashes and the connection to Victoria’s Secret first arose in 2008. It is now 2014. Clearly, Victoria’s Secret simply doesn’t care that their product hurts women. Clearly, they’re continuing to make mountains of money off products that, although lovely, let’s face it — are ridiculously overpriced, and we continue to buy because we like them that much and nothing else comes close. But once you’ve had the rash…

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Hey, Pres — how about a lunch date with me?

President Obama is making the rounds, pressing the palms and raking in the cash today in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Yeah, that’s a lot of sad, tired clichés for one sentence, but the topic of politics makes me sad and tired these days too.

At today’s fundraisers, for $10,000, you can attend a luncheon with Obama and have your photo taken with him. For $32,000, you can also attend a private reception. Obviously, these events are for the 1%, because most of us can’t drop $10,000 on a lunch. Even fewer of us can spend as much on a reception AS I MAKE IN AN ENTIRE YEAR.

And yet, I voted for Obama. Twice. And no, I don’t think his presidency has exactly been a stellar success, but I don’t blame that entirely on him. He’s been thwarted at every move by Congressional Republicans, who have only one goal: Oppose whatever Obama supports. The Party of No bears much of the responsibility for this lackluster presidency, but Obama will be the one remembered for it. Which isn’t really fair, but it is what it is. On the other hand, if the Congressional Democrats weren’t so wimpy and polite, maybe the Republicans wouldn’t have steamrolled over everything Obama attempts to do.

Anyway. Back to the point. Face time with the Pres.

I think I deserve a handshake and a photo opp, and maybe even a conversation over a burrito or something, because I VOTED for Obama. And, as I said, I was a repeat offender. I don’t know if I’d vote for him again, because although he is likely one of the most intelligent, gifted presidents we’ve ever had, he’s simply not mean enough. He doesn’t know how to brawl. And you have to be a street fighter to take on the Congressional Republicans, as well as other difficult personalities elsewhere in the world.



So, no, Obama probably wouldn’t get my vote again because he’s just too damn polite and nice and cooperative. But he DID get my vote, twice. I helped put him in office, and I helped him stay there. I gave him my one and only vote, and also my trust and hope. Can you put a price on trust and/or hope? I think that’s worth something. I deserve a handshake and a lunch date.

Who was really the wicked witch?

I saw an interesting blog about good witches vs. bad witches yesterday, and it prompted me to ponder “good witches” and “bad witches” as I was lying in bed this morning, transitioning from half-asleep to awake enough to get up and make coffee. I thought of the most iconic witches (of both good and bad variety) in our culture, namely, Glinda the Good Witch of the North and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West from the much-beloved “Wizard of Oz.”

In the movie (which takes liberties with the book of the same name by Frank Baum), it is a given that Glinda is good and Elphaba is bad. Certainly Elphaba’s “reality” counterpart, Elmira Gulch, was truly wicked. Anyone who wants to have a cute little dog destroyed is evil. On the other hand… Dorothy was told to keep Toto in the yard, and repeatedly was too careless to do so. I’ve been attacked by little dogs while riding my bike, and I can tell you from personal experience, it gives you some sympathy for Elmira Gulch. Even a little dog can send you head over heels.

Irresponsible dog owners who let their dogs run loose: Fault — Dorothy. Point — Elmira Gulch.

And Auntie Em, you shouldn’t have been such a wimp. At least Dorothy showed a little fire.

But — back to the witches of Oz.

Dorothy, of course, grabs Toto, hides in her house, it’s lifted up into the twister and the house falls smack on the Wicked Witch of the East. Dorothy emerges, all the munchkins bow down to the one who apparently killed their oppressor, but in fact, Dorothy didn’t do anything worthy of such respect, she just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Down floats Glinda the Good in her pink bubble and pretty dress, to ask Dorothy if she’s a good witch or a bad witch. Dorothy insists she’s not a witch at all, but Glinda points out that the Wicked Witch of the East is dead, and there’s Dorothy’s house and here is Dorothy. Therefore, Munchkinland has a right to know the character of their new monarch.

Enter the Wicked Witch of the West, demanding to know who killed her sister. Yeah, she’s pissed. Wouldn’t you be pissed if someone dropped a house on your sister and squashed her flat? Her only demand was to be given the ruby slippers — they were her sister’s, and were rightfully the property of her sister’s kin upon her death.

But Glinda poofs those slippers onto Dorothy’s feet and compels her to make sure they remain there, because… umm… why is that? Oh yes, because the Wicked Witch of the West wants them, and that’s reason enough not to give them to her. She’s ugly and therefore bad, and that gives us the right to tease and abuse her. Besides, finders keepers.

Let’s recap here: Thus far, Elphaba merely wants back what is rightfully hers. Glinda has stolen the shoes, given them to someone else and conspired to thwart Elphaba in getting the shoes back. Elphaba — no wickedness displayed so far, only a display of anger caused by grief and shock over the loss of her sister. Glinda — already guilty of slander, theft, conspiracy AND, because Dorothy is barely a teenager, contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Fault — Glinda. Point — Elphaba.

Dorothy keeps the shoes on the advice of the “good” witch, and of course, all hell lets loose as Dorothy proceeds to journey to the Wizard of Oz to get back home. To further stain Glinda’s goodness, it turns out at the end, that Dorothy never needed to see the Wizard at all to get back home. All she needed to do was click her heels, and bingo  — back to Auntie Em and the pig pen. In other words, Glinda sent Dorothy out alone, to befriend an assortment of shady and weird male adults (have you ever heard of “Stranger Danger,” Glinda???), all for what? Her own amusement? That’s some pretty wicked shit, Glinda.

In my head… I fantasize that Dorothy, upon hearing the truth from Glinda — after a HUGE long, stupid hassle and flying monkeys, and melting witches and those weird Oh-EE-oh-ee-Oh-oh castle guards — totally flips, and smacks Glinda right across her smarmy face: “You WHORE! You put me through all this shit for NOTHING??” And then beats her silly with one of the ruby slippers before tapping her heels and getting the hell out of this circus.

So, in the end, it seems to me that Glinda the Good was the true “bad” witch, and Elphaba merely a mourning sister, trying to reclaim property that was rightfully hers. And the moral of this story, Dorothy, now that you’re back home? Be a responsible dog owner and keep Toto in the yard. That’s what got you into this mess. The other moral of this story? Don’t assume who is good or bad as if it’s a given, just because people tell you that this one is good, or that one is bad. Consider their behavior and motivations, and decide for yourself. And one more moral of the story, just for the kids: Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT go anywhere near strangers who are asking you to oil their stiff parts.

The Boob Blog: women still reporting breast rashes from Victoria’s Secret bras

At the risk of this becoming the Boob Blog, I must shine a light once again on the rashes reported by Victoria’s Secret customers. Despite the fact that Victoria’s Secret knows full well that many of their bras contain formaldehyde, they continue to produce the contaminated and damaging product. I started writing about this topic more than a year ago, and women are STILL popping up on this blog, reporting horrendous rashes and welts, and irresistible itching.

The issue of breast rashes and the connection to Victoria’s Secret first arose in 2008. It is now 2014. Clearly, Victoria’s Secret simply doesn’t care that their product hurts women. Clearly, they’re continuing to make mountains of money off products that, although lovely, let’s face it — are ridiculously overpriced, and we continue to buy because we like them that much and nothing else comes close. But once you’ve had the rash, you’ll change your mind.

Although I was able to find many class action suits against Victoria’s Secret, I was unable to find information about a settlement. Maybe the class action suit needs to be larger. The trouble is, many women don’t realize what’s actually causing their discomfort. They blame their lotions, perfumes, laundry detergent, fabric softener, hormones and heat, never realizing that their bra is the source of the rash.

And it’s not just any rash. There are huge welts, and the nipple area becomes dry, flakey and horrifically itchy. So itchy, you MUST scratch, and that only makes it worse. The urge to scratch is greater than the realization that you are bruising yourself and even raking your skin raw.

Yes, it’s THAT bad.

Lotions won’t help, powders won’t help, creams from the doctor won’t help, antihistamines won’t help. The only solution is to stop wearing the bras and tough it out until the rash goes away. However, If you have a rash, and suspect your Victoria’s Secret bra, don’t throw it away. It’s evidence. Put it in a Ziploc and store it. You never know when a lawyer might step forward and take on this company, that rewards its loyal customers by continuing to sell a product that it knows is harmless.

I discovered the Reeves Law Group online, and it is quite familiar with the bra rash issue. Here’s some of what they had to say about the rashes:

Victoria’s Secret is the largest American retailer of lingerie. The company has been credited with changing perceptions about undergarments, from a seldom-discussed taboo to a trendy, commonplace accessory. Recently, however, Victoria’s Secret bras, including the Angels Secret Embrace bra and the Very Sexy Extreme Me Push-Up bra, have come under scrutiny for being made with hazardous chemical toxins, such as formaldehyde, that can cause serious, long-lasting injuries.

Formaldehyde is a preservative found in many daily products. The garment industry regularly uses formaldehyde to make wrinkle-free, mildew-resistant fabrics. However, formaldehyde is also a known allergen that can cause serious skin irritation and lasting skin damage.

Immediate skin injuries due to formaldehyde exposure include:

  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Blistering
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Watery Eyes

Long-term consequences of contact with formaldehyde may include permanent and disfiguring scarring.

They also had this advice about what to do after you’ve discovered a rash:

  • Seek Medical Attention – Have a doctor examine and treat your condition as soon as possible.

  • Collect Evidence – Take photos of the damaged skin with a camera or cell phone camera. Preserve the bra for laboratory testing. Keep any packaging, instructions, and labels that came with the bra.

  • Contact a personal injury lawyer, with exceptional experience and a winning record – Such a lawyer will know how to formulate a case, collect evidence, call upon experts to examine the bra, and communicate effectively with Victoria’s Secret, the company’s lawyers, and medical care providers.

What do you say, ladies? Should we start objecting to a company that rewards our loyalty with a product that causes so much discomfort? In the meantime — bag up those bras, try to stop scratching, and when you find a product you like as much as Victoria’s Secret, please report back! We want to know!