Dear Mr. Buffett,
The women of America need you. Badly. Have you ever been in the changing room of the lingerie section at a major department store? O.K., don't answer that. But I've been there, and I'll tell you, it ain't pretty. There's desperation. There's misery, fatigue and wild-eyed panic. Every single day across this great nation of ours, women have to force themselves into cruelly lit cubicles with ill-closing curtains to try to find a bra that fits. But only a pitiful few do. Warren, must this agony go on?
Ever since you bought Fruit of the Loom and its plus-size offspring Vanity Fair back in 2002, extending your empire to the firmament of the foundation garment universe, I have been waiting patiently, hoping that you'll turn out to be a revolutionary of the order of Herminie Cadolle. About 120 years ago, Mme. Cadolle figured out that it made more sense for women's breasts to be suspended from above than cantilevered from beneath. That is, she invented bra straps. So instead of walking around wearing the lingerie equivalent of the London Bridge, women could slide themselves into a Golden Gate. This was a huge relief--as anyone who has worn a strapless bra can tell you--because the London Bridge pretty much always falls down.
Getting Beyond the ABCs
Or you could be like Ida Rosenthal. She invented cup sizes back in the 1920s. Warners picked up her idea and decided that most women would fall somewhere between an A and a D. At the time it was a breakthrough. But Mr. Buffett, please, this is such old tech. Are you wearing 80-year-old underwear? Again, no need to answer. But how can it be that in the past eight decades we've gone from measuring by furlongs and pinches to microns and nanoseconds and gigabytes, but we're still sizing bras according to the first few letters of the alphabet? And I'm not discounting the seminal work of the Swiss anthropologist Rudolf Martin, who classified breasts into four types: flat, hemispheric, conical and goat-udder-shaped. It's just that, inexplicably, his nomenclature system failed to catch on.
The crazy thing is, we already have the technology. Only this year a bunch of Hong Kong researchers published a paper in the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics--a publication that I imagine is on your bedside table right now--that used 3-D anthropometric measuring equipment to take a very close look at 456 young Chinese women's breasts. (I know, can you imagine writing the grant proposal for that?) Their conclusions make for some tough reading. They note that 70% of British women are wearing the wrong size bra, and that among bigger-breasted women the sizing is particularly inappropriate.
Instead of taking two measurements (under the bust and over the bust) to find a bra size, the Hong Kong researchers took 98. The key to building a better bra, they concluded, is to use a depth-width ratio rather than just volume to figure out the cup size. Warren, can you see what's happening here? Are you going to let Chinese women have better-fitting bras than we do? Where is your sense of patriotism? First it's superior bras, then it's superior weapons, and before long the fat lady in her too-snug undergarment has sung, and it's over.
As you know, W.B., bras carry a lot more freight than just the bosomy kind. When women stand in front of the mirror, they don't see a bra that doesn't fit. They see a woman who doesn't fit--whose cup runneth over, who is insufficiently endowed, who is goat-shaped.
About half the adult population wears bras. The other half strategizes about them. Building a better-fitting one is not just good for female self-esteem, it's good for business. And you are the guy to do it. Can't you see the ad campaigns? "The Buffett Bustier: because one size does not fit all." Or "Get yourself into a neBRAska. We've got room for everyone."
Warren, I beseech you, just spare one moment today to think about breasts. I know you can.