Sarah Sands: Why Mariella's pillow talk is front-page news

Share
Related Topics

Whatever Mariella Frostrup's strong views on Liberia or the Orange Prize, they cannot compete with the engulfing tide of interest in her bra-wearing habits. The word "bra", like "Israel" or "Palestine", triggers a global meltdown on the internet.

When The Daily Telegraph ventured into digital television some years ago, it had an early epic success with one of its fashion reporters being fitted with a Rigby and Peller bra. I doubt that it ever came near to those royal wedding-style viewing figures again. No wonder Mariella's bra was a front-page story for the paper on Friday.

I couldn't altogether judge the visual resonance of the story that Mariella had followed Paul Yates's advice and worn a bra in bed for 15 years. Is this considered by male readers to be a lusty challenge, or an obstacle? Do they hope that it is part of a full kit of stockings, suspenders etc, which every self-respecting television presenter should sleep in?

Although I swear that I spotted a nipple in a recent edition of the Daily Mail, and wonder if the editor noticed it too, underwear is the final frontier for most family newspapers. So they make the most of it. Christmas, Valentine's Day, anniversaries and Cameron mini-breaks are all occasions to get the lingerie pictures out.

Middle-market heroines are not naked, but women in their underwear or bikinis. Elle Macpherson, Kylie Minogue, Liz Hurley and anyone from Victoria's Secret. Footballers may bring home glamour models, but social mobility leads to thongs.

The Oxfordshire "lord of the manor" Kevin Cash, who fell out so publicly with his butler and housekeeper recently, was married to an underwear model 18 years his junior. Kerching. Even Kate Middleton first came to the notice of her future husband, Prince William, by appearing in her underwear at a university fashion show.

Distressingly, the television news reporter Lara Logan has not been able to forget her past job as swimwear model. When she was sexually assaulted while reporting on the protests in Egypt, some bloggers speculated that she had brought it upon herself.

Ever since Mary Phelps Jacobs invented the modern bra in 1913, in order to make women more comfortable, it has been a source of wonder to men. They love to calculate the mind-boggling combination of alphabet and numbers. I remember explaining to some young men Nigella Lawson's rare statistics; a narrow back and fabulous bosoms means she is something like 32GG.

Meanwhile, a favourite fact in the press is that very few women wear properly fitting bras. Bra fitting is a science, requiring a female version of Brian Cox to master and teach it.

There is a generation, mostly Tory MPs, even more Neanderthal than David Willetts, who still refer to feminists as " bra burners". Men buying lingerie claim to know nothing of the engineering purpose of bras but have an atavistic fear that women who don't wear them will turn into harpies.

I emailed Mariella to tell her I am writing on a subject of national importance and would appreciate any guidance. Her response was spirited. She was referring to Paula Yates wearing a bra in bed, not to herself: "I wear flannel pjs and a vest, def not fantasy bedwear." Tread gently, Mariella, for you tread on our dreams. I bet Fiona Bruce sleeps in top-to-toe leather.

Sarah Sands is deputy editor of the 'London Evening Standard'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week