Plenty of front

Hainan man asks students for their underwear


Looking for support: Chen Qingzu, the public health campaigner

Middle-aged man opens bra museum” is the sort of headline liable to grab the attention – so congratulations to the Global Times for running it.

The article that followed told the story of Chen Qingzu, a 56 year-old from Hainan who has spent 20 years collecting bras from university students. He now has 5,000 of them pinned to the walls and ceilings of his modest house in Sanya.

His motivations? “Many girls thought I was a bra fetishist,” Chen admitted to China News Service. But he says that his intentions are nobler – he has collected the bras on grounds of public health, with the message that tight or ill-fighting underwear can lead to breast disease including cancer.

Chen now wants to open his collection for public inspection, the media says, although the Chinese press shows little curiosity about how he has collected such an expansive resource. Apparently Chen simply turns up at campuses, gives a talk on how best to fit brassieres and then invites his audience to hand over underwear that isn’t fit for purpose.

Even Chen’s local paper Nanguo Metropolis Daily saw little need to detail the “special and unique” methods that he has used to assemble his collection. But it did go further than most in wondering whether he might be a “repressed transvestite, scrambling for any wild excuse in a society that won’t accept his sartorial choices”. It also noted that the offer to take poorly-sized bras home with him isn’t always appreciated. “Upon hearing this strange request, some of the girls become understandably alert and are prepared to call the police at the soonest possible opportunity,” the newspaper notes.

But Chen seems untroubled by the speculation surrounding his life’s work. A seasoned self-publicist, he has even been spotted wandering the streets of Sanya in a bra himself, Xinhua reports.

As you might expect, netizens were more forthright in their opinions of Chen’s love of lingerie. “He’s just a freak making the excuse of setting up a museum,” said one. “Brother, you’ve done something that every man dreams about doing but dare not try,” admired another.

Perhaps that’s why Nanguo Metropolis Daily felt compelled to offer a few words of caution on Chen’s activities.

“Even looking at this story from the most positive angle, the question remains as to why he chooses to conduct his bra gatherings on university campuses,“ it asked.

“Considering that the risk of breast cancer rises as women get older, wouldn’t going door-to-door in his neighbourhood and only speaking to older women be a better use of his time?”

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