How the Pandemic Has Changed the Bra

Season 1 | Episode 7
19m | Mar 3, 2022

How the Pandemic Has Changed the Bra 

Season 1, Episode 7

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many predicted that the bra was fast-tracked for extinction. Instead, past styles were largely retired in favour of more comfortable options. What does the change mean? 

From tight-laced corsets to push-ups, the idea that bras aren’t supposed to be comfortable has been around for over a century. But, as people increasingly dress for themselves, we’ve begun to reconsider the purpose of our undergarments.

This week on The Deep Dive, Sheena Rossiter speaks with writer Nicole Schmidt, an associate editor at The Walrus, about how the pandemic has changed the bra. Prior to joining The Walrus, Schmidt was an assistant editor at Toronto Life. She has written for Maclean's, the National Post, Yahoo, and Vice.

Toronto-based illustrator Kate Traynor also speaks about her illustration for this story. Traynor’s work has been featured in publications such as Broadview, Quill and Quire, and Reader's Digest.

In this episode:

We hear why Schmidt wanted to work on a feature about how the pandemic has changed the bra. 

We learn the full history of the bra: from its first appearance in ancient Greece to the corset to the WonderBra. 

Schmidt then tells us about a popular TikTok challenge where women are cutting up their old padded bras to make bralettes, and some more new trends in bras.  

She then talks about the rise in smaller and newer brands for women’s underwear during the pandemic.

Then we hear from Kate Traynor about her inspiration for the story’s illustration. She describes how she drew from her own experience with bras to arrive at the final illustration.

Finally, we check in on what we're talking about this week at The Walrus.


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Hosted and produced by Sheena Rossiter and Angela Misri, with editing by Sheena Rossiter

Music provided by Audio Jungle. Our theme song is “This Podcast Theme” by Inplus Music Additional music: “Stay Cool” by Loops Lab; “Podcast Intro” by Inplus Music; and “Investigations” and “Umbrella Pants” by Kevin MacLeod, provided by Film Music. 

Investigations by Kevin MacLeod



Umbrella Pants by Kevin MacLeod



Additional Sources: Marsonfurs, Micheal Levy, and “Rosie the Riveter” by the Four Vagabonds from Glamour Daze on YouTube. 

Correction March 3, 2022: This interview references an NPR article which stated that 28,000 pounds of steel—enough to build two battleships—were saved after women were asked to stop buying corsets during the First World War. In fact, 28,000 tons of steel were saved, enough to build at least one battleship. The Walrus regrets the errors.

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