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The bra never existed in African culture and was worn only after people were exposed to a Western lifestyle, says Nomcebo Mthembu, who chairs the Hillcrest-based Indoni Cultural Institute.

Breasts were the pride of women, not the bra, she says.

“In African culture, it was never a problem when a virgin walked around with her breasts exposed because that was her pride – breasts are the beauty of a woman. However, those with children do wear something, just to cover and support their breasts and out of respect for those who are watching,” said Mthembu.

She said modernisation and the change of lifestyle meant a woman who couldn’t afford a bra often felt left out.

“Everything we have now has been made fashionable, but within the African culture a bra is not what describes a woman. Yes, it does support her breasts, but it’s not the pride of a woman,” said Mthembu.

– Sunday Tribune