Fatalities that occurred in 1982 and 1999 reveal that wearing an underwire bra in a lightning storm can lead to loss of life.
St. Joseph News-Press Gazette - Jun 19, 1982
The Vancouver Sun - Oct 28, 1999
Not only a medical miracle but a fashion statement as well.
"has proven itself to be the very Perfection of Prevention from Pneumonia
…. keeping the skin in a most delicious and healthy glow and the internal organs in that healthy and vigorous condition which is the Only Safeguard Against Disease
Harper's Magazine - May 1886
LUX Soap's 1942 ad campaign warned of the danger of talking underwear.
Some analysis by Melissa McEuen in Making War, Making Women: Femininity and Duty on the American Home Front
Exerting personal control over one's own laundry could be empowering, LUX ads suggested to female audiences. Women would have to wage a tough fight against their underclothes, which seemed to take on lives of their own in [J. Walter Thompson Company's] wartime advertising. Animated lingerie starred in LUX ad copy in the early 1940s. Flying, chattering bras, slips, camisoles, and girdles claimed to harbor their owners' unpleasant secrets. In some promotions the sneaky garments threatened to release this information, while in other ads, they expressed pity for the oblivious young women who wore them. In one group of ads featuring the wily articles, a headline announced, "UNDIES ARE GOSSIPS!"…
The "Undies Are Gossips" campaign radiated a core message familiar to Americans early in the war: the power of talk. U.S. government propaganda connected conversations with death and destruction for U.S. troops: "Somebody blabbed — button your lip!" and "A Careless Word… A Needless Sinking" warned viewers to check their conversations. One resonant quip suggested "Loose Lips Might Sink Ships."
Spokesman Review - Mar 1, 1942
Philadelphia Inquirer - July 19, 1942
The wealthy always employ midgets to help them dress. Seriously, what size is that person standing on the chair? Maybe the gal in undergarments is a giant?
"the 'Armageddon Bra' includes a sensor on the shoulder strap, and a control box to warn of objects falling from the skies."
The Vancouver Province - May 13, 1999
Montreal Gazette - May 13, 1999
“How would you like to be eating a hamburger and turn around and see some dude wearing jockey shorts on his head?”
Indianapolis News - May 20, 1977
During World War II, millions of men served their country by fighting in the military. Hundreds of thousands of others worked in hospitals or factories. And thirty-two men did their part by wearing lice-infested underwear.
Model of a body louse, National Museum of Health and Medicine.
Origin of the Experiment
It began with the recognition of the serious public-health problem posed by body lice (Pediculus humanis corporis
). Being infested by these tiny insects is not only unpleasant, but also potentially deadly, since they're carriers of typhus. During World War II, medical authorities feared that the spread of lice among civilian refugees could trigger a widespread typhus epidemic, leading to millions of deaths, as had happened in World War I.
In an attempt to prevent this, the Rockefeller Foundation, in collaboration with the federal government, funded the creation in 1942 of a Louse Lab whose purpose was to study the biology of the louse and to find an effective means of preventing infestation. The Lab, located in New York City, was headed by Dr. William A. Davis, a public health researcher, and Charles M. Wheeler, an entomologist.
The first task for the Louse Lab was to obtain a supply of lice. They achieved this by collecting lice off a patient in the alcoholic ward of Bellevue Hospital. Then they kept the lice alive by allowing them to feed on the arms of medical students (who had volunteered for the job). In this way, the lab soon had a colony of thousands of lice. They determined that the lice were free of disease since the med students didn't get sick.
Next they had to find human hosts willing to serve as subjects in experiments involving infestation in real-world conditions. For this they initially turned to homeless people living in the surrounding city, whom they paid $7 each in return for agreeing first to be infected by lice and next to test experimental anti-louse powders. Unfortunately, the homeless people proved to be uncooperative subjects who often didn't follow the instructions given to them. Frustrated, Davis and Wheeler began to search for other, more reliable subjects.
Eventually Davis and Wheeler hit upon conscientious objectors (COs) as potential guinea pigs. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 allowed young men with religious objections to fighting to serve their country in alternative, nonviolent ways. At first they were put to work domestically at jobs such as building roads, harvesting timber, and fighting forest fires. But in 1942, inspired by the example of the British government, it occurred to U.S. officials that these young men were also a potential pool of experimental subjects for research, and they began to be made available to scientists for this purpose.
The Vancouver Sun - Feb 3, 1943
In theory, the COs were always given a choice about whether or not to serve as guinea pigs. In practice, it wasn't that simple. Controversy lingers about how voluntary their choice really was since their options were rather limited: be a guinea pig for science, or do back-breaking manual labor. But for their part, the COs have reported that they were often eager to volunteer for experiments. Sensitive to accusations that they were cowardly and unpatriotic, serving as a test subject offered the young men a chance to do something that seemed more heroic than manual labor.
Eventually COs participated in a wide variety of experiments, but Davis and Wheeler were the very first researchers to use American COs as experimental subjects. And they planned to infest these volunteers with lice.
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