Bra Explodes on NPR

NPR's Storycorps gave the air this week to 94-year-old Betty Jenkins, who tells the tale of an inflatable bra her mother gave her when she was younger. She decided to wear the bra on a plane trip to South America. Unfortunately, as she sat in the unpressurized cabin, her bra started to get bigger and bigger:

"As the thing got bigger, I tried to stand up," Jenkins said, "and I couldn't see my feet."
The instructions said that the bra's pads could be inflated up to a size 48.
"I thought, 'What would happen if it goes beyond 48?'" Jenkins recalled.
"I found out what happened," she said. "It blew out."
Only one of the cups burst, Jenkins said. But the noise was loud enough to seize the attention of everyone on the plane.
"The co-pilot came into the cabin with a gun, wondering what had happened. The men all pointed to me."

Next week Betty will be telling the story of how she once accidentally microwaved her poodle. But seriously, I wonder if NPR realized that Betty's story is the classic urban legend of the exploding bra? As David Emery points out, you can find variants of it dating back to the 1950s. And was Betty just pulling everybody's leg, or does she actually believe this happened to her? Who knows. But David makes a good point:

chivalry forbids calling Ms. Jenkins out on her embellishment of this well-known urban legend, especially since, as the StoryCorps website clearly states, its mission is to collect "the stories and legends of everyday America" (emphasis added).

Urban Legends

Posted on Tue Jul 01, 2008


It is actually possible. This is an inflatable bra filled with air, not a silicon-filled fake boob. If you are in an unpressurized cabin, they can get pretty large, and if the seal on the bra is weak (these weren't high quality items at that time), they can blow out. Hell, I had one blow out from over-inflating by mouth (yes, bachelorette parties can be a blast). As for unpressurized areas on a plane--I've had bottles of shampoo blow out in my suitcase before I learned to remove as much air as possible before packing them.
Posted by snarkychef  on  Tue Jul 01, 2008  at  09:13 PM
a very old episode of mythbusters
Posted by hurr  on  Tue Jul 01, 2008  at  09:17 PM
I look upon inflatable bras as false advertising.
Posted by KDP  on  Wed Jul 02, 2008  at  08:19 AM
There's a similar story involving packets of crisps. Though we tested it (downing three airliners and killing 157 people, but all in the name of SCIENCE!) and no chip packets exploded. Shame.
Posted by Hugo  on  Mon Jul 14, 2008  at  11:52 PM
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