The Ill-Fitted Sports Bra – Cartoons and Controversy

Censorship and Humor

A friend of mine, Heather, who I used to coach and who is now a running coach herself, posted a pretty funny cartoon yesterday on Facebook. It was of a woman in a Zumba class realizing too late that she should have worn a better sports bra.  I didn’t see the original cartoon I just saw the post Heather made explaining how one of her ‘friends’ on FB had reported it as offensive and it had been removed.  

She was livid, as I would have been, and as all her true friends on FB were.  The comments and other cartoons that were posted on that thread were hilarious.  It reminded me of a drawing I did long ago in a random sketchbook so I went and found it. I had never scanned it or posted it because it had all sorts of other random sketches all around it and even overlapping it.  But I decided if ever there was a time to scan it and work on it, today would be the day.  So, here you go Heather, my homage to you and your great sense of humor!




But Seriously Folks…

Having run now for about 15 years and having coached runners for about 5 I can’t tell how many times I have wanted to suggest to a runner they might want to get a new, better sports bra.  I obviously don’t know the physical discomfort and pain associated with running with a pair of breasts bouncing on my chest but I don’t need to feel it to know it’s got to hurt!  

Since I don’t feel comfortable saying that to a woman I don’t know really well, I instead will do two things. One, while I talk about running gear in one of the clinics I lead I will make a general announcement to the entire group about the importance of getting fitted for a good bra.  And two, I ask my female coaches to be extra alert to their female participants who they think need a better bra.  I want them to talk to them about it and offer help in finding one.  Now, if the person in question is a good friend of mine? I have no problem saying, “uh…you’re going to give yourself a black eye with those things, you need to get a better bra!”

Is This You?

Just in case you don’t think you are in this category of needing a better sports bra check out this excerpt from the online article ‘How to find the perfect Sports Bra’ from Fitness Magazine.

When we polled top bra-fitting pros for the number-one mistake women make in choosing a sports bra, they were unanimous: wearing a smaller cup and larger band than you need. Sure enough, nearly every tester whom FITNESS sent to the specialty shops Intimacy and Linda’s Bra Salon in New York City for fittings returned with a two-inch-smaller band and a larger cup size — As and double Ds alike.

Pretty amazing, right?  Here is the rest of the article.  You can simply google ‘sports bra fitting’ to find a slew of other articles about it.

Where I work, at Fleet Feet in Tulsa, we have dedicated apparel and bra fitting specialists and that makes it very easy for women to conveniently find the bra they need. Obviously most of you are not in Tulsa but Fleet Feet stores are around the country and if one is not close by there is a running or specialty store that can help you, you just have to look it up.

Back to Funny

Here is the original cartoon Heather posted. It’s by Fernz Cartoons.



And here is one that was posted on the thread.


If you have other cartoons or funny stories about sports bra disasters, send them along, the Napkin Kin would love to see and read them!

Original drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman


Where Do You Find Your Sublime Happiness?


I know many of the Napkin Kin would say the moment below is the moment, right?

Sublime Happiness

Purchase the Original Drawing or Purchase a Print

The Sublime Moment

I don’t regularly have this sublime moment in my life repertoire, but I did have it once.  The moment helped me understand the ecstasy of which my female friends speak.  No, I didn’t enter a drag queen contest or dress up as a woman for Halloween (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  I had to wear a heart monitor for 48 hours as part of my annual physical.  It was strapped around my chest the whole time and what an annoyance it was.  It was SO great to finally have it off.  I figured out then that if I were female I would probably be one who takes her bra off the second she gets in her car to go home from work.  I just knew I would want it off that bad. 

Anyway, just a fun drawing today to let my female Napkin Kin know I understand your agony and ecstasy (at least a little bit!)


Drawing by Marty Coleman

Quote by Joyce Grenfell, 1910-1979, English actor and songrwriter.  She actually used the word ‘corset’ instead of ‘bra’ in the original quote.  I can imagine a corset would be even harder to keep on all day.


Happiness is the sublime moment when you get out of your bra at night

The Woman with Bacon Hair and Big Breasts – A Short Short Story



bacon hair and big breasts


The Woman w/ The Bacon Hair and Big Breasts

The woman was happy.  She had hair like bacon, which she always wanted, and her big breasts had finally healed from the surgery.

She liked finally being thin. she had dieted and worked out hard to attain her new shape.

Someone took a photo of her and she stuck out her tongue.

Her friend standing next to her also had big breasts (but not bacon hair) but she was not happy about it.

The End


Short short story and drawing by Marty Coleman


Artists I Love – Coco Larrain – Breast Week #4


Are you wondering why I am combining two series, ‘Artists I Love’ and the current ‘Breast Week’?  Coco is the reason. She was the inspiration for Breast Week because she just recently had a mastectomy as a result of her second bout with breast cancer. Her first was 15 years ago. She also happens to be a life-long artist.


Coco – 1972 High School Yearbook


A Long Time Ago

Coco went to school with me starting when I was about 13 until high school graduation 6 + years later.  She was one of a handful of people in school who were designated, like I was, as ‘the artist’.  Turns out, now that so many of us are reconnected via social media, we realize our school (Darien High School in Darien, Connecticut) produced a prodigious amount of amazing artists, but back then some already had shown such talent that there was no doubt they were and always would be an artist.  Coco was at the top of that list.

Alas, as often happens after high school, I lost track of most everyone, including Coco.  I moved back to California where I was born and it made keeping connected pretty hard. It was long before social media and unless you called or wrote a letter it wasn’t going to happen.

Cape Cod

Fast forward many decades and my family is going on vacation to Cape Cod and Boston. I post a note on Facebook letting my friends on the east coast know that I am coming their way and ask them who I may know on the Cape. Coco’s name comes up.  I connect with her after 30+ years and find, no surprise, that she is still a practicing artist.

Linda, Caitlin and I made it to Cape Cod and I was able to visit Coco in the summer of ’09. It was the first time I had seen her since we graduated from high school.  She was busy with some commissioned paintings and contemplating a kitchen demolition and remodel. It was great to see her and her fantastic place.



Coco’s backyard



Coco – 2009

Coco’s Art

I also found that she had breast cancer more than a decade earlier and that she painted a series of self-portraits during that time.



Inner Child Prays – Self-portrait



Coco’s self-portraits – displayed in her home


The paintings are powerful in color and emotion, but diverse in feeling and depth.  It’s like seeing someone they way they see themselves, a rare gift we don’t often get to experience.  She does what the best artist’s do:  she exposes herself with emotional courage.



Coco at Her Opening – Photo by Steven Specht


She also has done amazing work in landscapes, portraits, and collages.  Here is a selection.


Above All Else – 2007


Kehoe's Dune

Kehoe’s Dune – 2007



Kehoe’s Dune – close up – note the hint of a home behind the dunes


The Painted Whale  

Coco Larrain – Painted Whale – 2005


Painted Whale – in progress


Drawings and Paintings

Coco Larrain – Ishmael’s Wisdom



Woman with Red Gloves



Cat and Bird Games – collage



Moth and Apple – collage



Coco found out recently that she had breast cancer again.  She is facing it with the same incredible endurance and creativity she faced it last time.  She is embarking on a portrait series of her self once again. This time she is enlisting the help of a very talented photographer, Julia Cumes, to document her journey.  Check out Julia’s blog, Apertures and Anecdotes, to read about her interactions with Coco as they have completed the photo sessions so far.



Coco Before Surgery – Photograph by Julia Cumes


I am so looking forward to seeing how her courage and creativity will push her, and us, forward into fantastic and profound moments of art. If you would like to explore more of Coco’s work, you can see it at her website, Coco’s Artwork.

Click here to see the whole ‘Breast’ series


Fall/Winter 2016

Winter/Spring 2015

Summer 2014

Winter 2012/2013

Winter 2011/2012


Modesty, Breasts and the Nobler Virtues – Breasts Week #3


With all due modesty, it is day #3 of Breast Week!

Modesty, Breasts and the Noble Virtues - Breast Week #3


This quote led to way more questions than answers for me.  

I don’t think the author was talking about actual the female bosom. I believe it was originally meant symbolically, not literally.  But I can see the meaning being expressed just as well, even better in some ways, when it is read as if referring to real breasts.

So, with that in mind, here is what I think it’s getting at:  A woman being immodest about her breasts is lacking noble virtues, otherwise modesty would reside within her and she wouldn’t be flaunting them. Is that what you think it is basically saying?  

Here’s the problem. How do we know when someone is being modest or immodest?  Can 2 friends on vacation wearing very similar bikinis be different in that regard? Can one be modest and the other immodest with the exact same amount of flesh showing?  How would we know the difference between them?  

The quote suggests you would know the answer by the appearance of the ‘nobler virtues’ in the modest person.  My question is, What are the nobler virtues?

And finally, the ultimate question in this regard:

Can a nudist be modest?

Click here to see the whole ‘Breast’ series


Drawing and all these questions by Marty Coleman

Quote by Oliver Goldsmith, 1730-1774, Anglo-Irish writer














Skin is Not Sin – Breast Week #2


If you are keeping abreast you know it’s day #2 of Breast Week at the NDD!

Skin is Not a Sin - Breast Week #2

Skin is Not Sin by Napkin Dad


Open Air

Why do we think skin equals sin?  Why is the exposing of skin seen as dirty?  Obviously in breastfeeding a mother shows her breast. If she is in public she might cover her breast with a blanket. But it’s also possible that she might choose not to cover, maybe because the child gets fussy under the blanket, maybe because she likes to watch her child nurse, maybe she likes the feel of the open air.   Whatever her reason and whatever her choice there will be someone who feels it’s wrong, dirty or rude for her to nurse in public, no matter what.  

It’s Your Fault

This gets to the heart of a persistent idea. It’s the idea that the woman is to blame for the actions of the man. It usually boils down to one thing, she showed too much skin.  Whose fault is it if a man reacts rudely, even violently to a woman showing ‘too much skin’?  In this persistent idea it is the woman’s fault. Why? Because you can’t expect a man to be able to control himself in the face of that much skin showing.


I, as a man, am offended by this the same way a woman would (and should) be offended by a comment saying a woman can’t control her emotions so she can’t be trusted in important roles in public life.  The same is true with the ‘skin’ argument for men.  It is not the case that men can’t handle it.  It is the case that when men SAY they can’t handle it they are using it as an excuse for their own bad behavior. They are rationalizing their inability to have some self-control by blaming it on others.  It’s not the ‘other’ who is to blame. It is the man.

What are your thoughts?

Click here to see the whole ‘Breast’ series


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote is my variation on ‘Skin does not equal sin’ – anonymous


Breasts vs Boobs – Breasts Week #1

A number of friends of mine are currently battling Breast Cancer.  Many more have battled it in the past.  I will address the cancer side of breasts in my artwork soon but in the meanwhile it got me thinking not just about cancer but about breasts in general. I thought I would do a series investigating how we use the idea and the reality of breasts in our lives; corporate, individual, commercial, political, literary and emotional.


I thought this quote was pretty funny. Good wordplay combined with a strong political statement. And it’s an understandably alluring idea; that the key to success in a political endeavor is to bring in people who have not been properly represented and who offer a different way of viewing issues than the powers who have been in control.  

But the truth is having breasts isn’t a good reason to vote for someone because having breasts doesn’t stop people from being boobs.  In my home state of Oklahoma we have a number of women in power, and, in my opinion, many of them are damaging women’s progress in the world, not furthering it.  Fair representation matters, yes. But having breasts isn’t the deciding factor in good governance.  What matters is ideas and execution of those ideas, whether one has breasts or not.

But I do agree the boobs have got to go!

Click here to see the whole ‘Breast’ series


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Claire Sargent, former candidate for US Senate from Arizona, 1992.


Breast Impressions – A Breast Cancer Charity Project

This is a little different than what you are used to seeing at The Napkin.  But it is something I created for a charity auction and thought you might like to see it. It is titled ‘The Singing Inside’ and consists of the painted body cast set inside a frame made from the wood of an old piano. It is a lamp as well, with a rope light wound around the two supports holding the cast in place.

Here is the story. I was asked to participate in a breast cancer charity auction. ‘Breast Impressions’ of Tulsa and its founder, Judy Grove, created body casts of various celebrities in the Tulsa area. Artist’s around town then ‘adopted’ a cast, painted it and put it up for auction with the proceeds going to the charity. I adopted this one. I had no idea who the model was and the rule is the artist wouldn’t know unless the model actually wanted it to be known.  In this case the model, a well known TV news reporter, and I knew each other and when she found out I was the artist that had picked her piece she contacted me and let me know it was her. That added a cool personal element to creating the image. I thought about her personality and character and it helped form my ideas for the piece.

It started out as just a plain white plaster of paris cast of her torso. That was given to me with no restrictions on what I could do with it.  I had done some sculptures years before that used translucent mannequin bodies. In those I had ended up making one into a lamp so I had thought I would try that in this instance as well.

Here is a close up of the painting with two of my oldest and favorite characters, Talking Turtle and Singing Snake.  I also included on of my recurring images, a volcano. It seemed perfect for the idea of something coming from the inside.

I even got an engraved title plate for the piece.

I figured it was almost like a person so it should be buckled up for the trip to the exhibition site.  If it had a head I might have been tempted to drive in the HOV lane!

It was on display at the Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa, Oklahoma in September and October of 2009. The auction took place in the center court of the mall and was a great success.  My piece was purchased by a wealthy donor who then gave it to the Abbie, the woman who initially modeled for the piece. She still proudly displays it in her home.

Artwork by Marty Coleman





I saw a report recently about the actor Salma Hayak breastfeeding a child in Africa to illustrate the problem that arises from the strong pressure to not breastfeed very long in that community. The lack of nutrients, antibiotics and bonding that occur when a baby is taken off breastfeeding prematurely is bad enough in a healthy community, but when the community is in poverty and malnutrition and the lack of safe food & water is strong, then to give up the one thing that can immunize and strengthen your child is much more dire for the future health of the child.

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