Finally, evidence about chemicals in fabrics

Dear Boob Blog followers and fellow breast rash sufferers,

Despite the women who come streaming to this website reporting rashes from Victoria’s Secret bras, and now other brands as well, Limited Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret) has refused to acknowledge anything awry with their product other than to say that the level of formaldehyde in their products is at such a low level that people will not react to it.

Unless you have an allergy to formaldehyde, or whatever else is in that Chinese-made fabric. (No, they didn’t admit that — you have to read between the lines of the “explanation” on Limited Brands’ website.)

Check out this research done by Greenpeace, investigating the chemical content of several clothing manufacturers, and guess what: Victoria’s Secret is on the list, and the results are not squeaky clean.

In a test for phthalates and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), all the products tested contain phthalates, and 50 percent of the products tested contained NPEs. Phtalates are a known carcinogen and linked to breast cancer.  NPEs are hazardous to marine life, and ultimately to human life.

Read the entire study here:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/toxics/Water%202012/ToxicThreads01.pdf

Greenpeace takes the issue of chemical-infused fabric one step further: the waste products from the use of these chemicals, as well as chemicals washed out of the clothing and into the water system carries the chemicals into the food chain. We eat the fish that live in chemically contaminated water, and on and on the toxic cocktail goes.

I don’t know about you, but in my personal experience, I know what seems like too many women with breast cancer, lung cancer, lupus, autoimmune disease… why the spike? All these children with autism — maybe it’s not vaccines, maybe it’s the cumulative chemical load that begins in the womb and continues on into childhood. There are hazardous chemicals in the air, water, ground, most every product, and even organic products can be truly chemical free if they’re exposed to air, water or ground. The human body didn’t evolve carrying such a massive accumulation of chemicals. Of course it results in a physiological collapse: disease and death.

Once again, I must reemphasize that the solutions to this chemical fabric contamination are simple. The easiest solution is just — stop it. These products were made elsewhere without the chemicals that are causing these reactions. They can be made again without those chemicals, but maybe not in China. Hey, here’s a wild idea: Make the products in the U.S., where there will be some oversight and control! Would I pay more for an American-made, chemical-free product? Oh, you bet!! Shut up and take my money!!

The other remedy, that should be as simple as a simple label would be to notify consumers of the trace chemicals in the fabrics, so that those of us who are allergic can avoid them. There should also be instructions on how to “detox” the product, and maybe special laundry detergents that will perform this. Great for the bras and our breasts, but then comes the issue raised by Greenpeace in their study: what do the chemicals do when the go down the drain? (Short answer: nothing good.)

In their report, Greenpeace says this:

The need for leadership and transparency

As global players, fashion brands have the opportunity to work on global solutions to eliminate the use of hazardous substances throughout their product lines and to drive a change in practices throughout their supply chains. As part of this leadership, it is vital for brands to commit to Zero Discharge of hazardous chemicals by 1 January 2020. This commitment must include ambitious programmes that match the urgency of the situation, and that will lead to the swift elimination of all hazardous substances. It must also include transparent information about the chemicals that the brands are currently using and discharging as they move towards zero elimination. While these brands continue to use our public waterways like their own private sewers, threatening people’s livelihoods and health, we have a right to know which chemicals they are releasing.

The role of governments

Greenpeace is calling on governments to adopt a
political commitment to “zero discharge” of all hazardous chemicals within one generation, based on the precautionary principle and including a preventative approach by avoiding production and use and, therefore, exposure to hazardous chemicals. This approach must have at its core the principle of substitution, such that hazardous chemicals are progressively replaced with safer alternatives, and include producer responsibility in order to drive innovation and elimination of such chemicals. As a vital first step to this process, a dynamic list of hazardous chemicals should be established and include chemicals like NPEs and phthalates for priority action, and have a publicly available register of data on discharge emissions and losses of hazardous substances.

The role of “People Power”

As global citizens and consumers we can also use our influence to make this change. Together we can demand that governments and brands act NOW to detox our rivers, detox our clothing and ultimately, detox our futures. Last year, thanks to global people power, six international brands – Puma, Nike, Adidas, H&M, Li Ning, and C&A, signed up to the “Detox Challenge” and committed to work with their suppliers to cut their toxic abuse.

This is just the beginning.

A post-toxic world is not only desirable, it’s possible. Together we can create it.

“People power.” We do have some, you and me both: It’s in our wallets. Look at the list of clothing manufacturers in the Greenpeace study and simply: Do not buy their products. Yes, it’s tough. There is just nothing in the world like a Victoria’s Secret bra. There is also nothing in the world like the discomfort the rash from their bras will cause, except maybe rolling naked in poison oak.

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.

cottonique-cot01-w12227-gsz

Seriously! Who would put their boobs in this ghastly thing! AND! It sells for $55.75 at herroom.com. 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!

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.”

Really.

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.

 

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!

 

Victoria’s Secret may be putting more into their bras than boobies

So, I started to itch. Uncontrollably. I’ve heard of jock itch. But breast itch? Could there be so such a thing? All I know is that mine started itching wickedly. We’re talking chicken pox covered in poison oak itchy. You can’t NOT scratch. Even to the point of bruising.

No joke.

It was that bad, and I scratched myself raw. And it wasn’t the first time this had happened, but it was most definitely the worst. I was covered in welts, red everywhere and miserable. My skin was dry and papery, particularly on the nipples.

“Don’t be shocked,” I warned my husband before pulling up my blouse to show him.

He didn’t heed the warning.

“EWWWW!!!” he exclaimed and backed away a little, and told me to get to a doctor.

Needless to say, he took one look at me and there was no romance in the midst of my mammary misery. Nothing says “Not tonight, honey” like diseased breasts.

Sadly, the doctor couldn’t see me for another week, so I got some Cortisone cream from the drug store and within a couple days, it all cleared up. By the time my appointment rolled around, there was nothing to look at, although my doc tried. All she noted was some really dry skin, and chalked it up to an allergic reaction.

Hmmm… now we have a mammary misery mystery.

I tried to think what I’d done that seemed to trigger this. One, I’d used a shower puff that’s been hanging unused for a couple weeks in the show, and on it, had used Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap. Maybe the shower puff had invisible fungus? Yuck. It couldn’t be the soap. That’s very mild, organic and typically soothing to the skin. And besides… if it was either the puff or the soap, I’d have gotten the welts everywhere. I didn’t.

What else?

I remembered what bra I was wearing that day… Victoria’s Secret all-cotton heather gray. I washed and dried it, and with the rash all cleared up, wore it for a day. The welts began returning in less than 24 hours.

Aha. A clue.

So, I put my investigative journalism skills to use and Googled “Victoria’s Secret bra rash” and the search results lit up, going back as far as 2008. There were stories by credible news agencies, and even a CBS video of an interview with a woman about my age, who, like me, had been wearing Victoria’s Secret bras for decades without incident, and suddenly… a painful, itchy rash on her breasts. They showed photos, and it was identical to what I had.

Bingo.

The report said the trouble began when Victoria’s Secret switched from a manufacturer in India and to one in China. Suddenly women started reporting the rashes. The likely culprit? Formaldehyde. FORMALDEHYDE. You know — the stuff they use to embalm bodies, to preserve them longer! Victoria – I have a secret for you: I don’t want you to preserve my breasts, just hold them up comfortably and attractively. I may be 53, but my breasts aren’t dead yet! They only look that way!

I relayed all my research findings to my husband, and he had one reaction: Burn that bra!

Haha… I could claim to be reinvigorating classic 1970s Feminism and get double mileage out of that burn! However, The bra in question being a 40DD and all, I didn’t want to risk starting a wildfire in our recent wicked California winds, so I chucked it in the trash. It’s been a week since my second breast test and I’m happy to report that the girls are once again looking fine and healthy. Now all I have to do is lift my blouse back up so my husband knows I’m safe again.

I guess the thing that bugs me most about this whole breast rash ordeal is that the stories I found online date back to 2008. I purchased this bra less than a year ago. And, as anyone who’s ever purchased anything from Victoria’s Secret can attest, those bras ain’t cheap. They cost at least twice what they’re worth, for no good reason really, other than customers buy into the marketing spin that they’ll make you as sexy as those sultry waifs who model their products. They won’t, of course, but I must say their products fit like nothing else, frame the work nicely, and are comfortable. It keeps you coming back.

So, therein you have the reason for customer loyalty. How shocking to discover that customers are being repaid for that loyalty by products infused with toxins that cause allergic reactions. I could understand that Victoria’s Secret didn’t realize what was going on in their Chinese manufacturing in 2008. But in the four years since — they apparently haven’t done anything to address it either. They know we’ll keep buying their products and figuring that we’re just allergic to the laundry soap we use. That really pisses me off. Enough to start looking for a different company to support my girls.

So, Victoria, your secret’s out: It seems you’re putting a lot more into your bras than boobies.