What’s that smell before Valentine’s Day? Maybe burning bras. Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop is at it again, giving physical, emotional or mental health advice. This time the website that told you to put stones in your vagina has the following suggestion: if you want to get over an ex-lover, burn your bra.
Yes, now Suzannah Galland says on the Goop website that “lingerie you wore with past lovers can carry the toxic residue of those relationships, along with painful memories.” Who is Galland? Well, her website describes her as an internationally acclaimed life advisor and relationship expert but doesn’t say anything about her past experience with bras. Galland goes on to say on the Goop website that:
To let go of the old—even if we know it makes us look fantastic—and make room for the new, a fire ritual can help release memories of past lovers. Full-moon fire rituals are ancient practices for spiritual cleansing, representing a time to get rid of the old and celebrate what’s next. They can help you release distrust, and in turn, open the space to invite new love into your life.
She then lists the steps in the bra burning ritual:
Find a safe place where you can light a fire. (Why not invite a few close friends to join you, too?)
Before you start, you might want to write out a few words, or recite a prayer to help release and forgive.
Throw your needs-to-go lingerie into the fire one piece at a time.
Watch intently as the pieces burn. Know that your past is recycling into the ethers, liberating your future.
This is terrific news for Victoria’s Secret or anyone else who sells bras and lingerie. You are basically burning to a crisp perfectly wearable underwear so that you need to buy more. If this becomes a national trend, just watch Victoria’s Secret’s sales peak. (By the way, the Goop website does sell lots of bras…hmm.) Fruit of the Loom and Hanes must be disappointed that no one is telling men to torch their boxers, boxer briefs, tighty whities or…gasp…thongs after getting dumped.
If you think you may eventually break up with someone, should you buy cheaper bras?
Is GallanD’s recommendation something with no scientific proof such as putting a stone up your vagina to improve your skin? Is the idea of “toxin residues” living in your bra far-fetched, assuming that you do bathe regularly? Not exactly.
Science has shown that participating in rituals or ceremonies can have significant positive psychological and healing benefits. As a Scientific American piece by Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton indicated, research has demonstrated the effectiveness of rituals in reducing anxiety, alleviating disappointment and increasing confidence after a loss. Gino and Norton recounted an experiment that they performed in which they conducted a lottery and then had the “losers” divide into two groups. (The losers of the lottery, not people who are losers in general.) One group went through a ritual that had each draw a picture of how he or she felt, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the drawing, tear up the drawing, and then count up to ten in his or her head five times. The people who performed the ritual reported feeling less grief. Imagine what may have happened if they had also burned their underwear.
Gino and Norton added that rituals that intend to produce a certain result are more likely to produce that result. This goes beyond the ritual of sitting on the toilet to make you more likely to leave something in the toilet. Even without a cause-and-effect link between the ritual and the desired effect, performing the ritual can still help the effect occur, perhaps through inspiring or focusing you. For example, wearing your favorite underwear may help you perform better in a game, debate or concert even though your underwear shouldn’t really matter (unless you are playing a very weird sport). Similarly, burning your bra won’t really do anything about your ex, unless your ex happens to be wearing the bra at the time, which would not be advisable. (Burning a bra while your ex is wearing it is not advisable, that is, and not your ex wearing your bra, which actually may help you get over your ex.)
Thus, Galland’s suggestion is probably not specific to your bra. Performing a ritual of any kind that’s meant to help you move on from a past relationship could indeed help you venture forward. You don’t necessarily have to set fire to your wardrobe.