"In case you don't want to wear a bra, and don't want your nipples sticking out," the guy says, "these are stickers for the nipples," he continues, positioning the flower shaped stickers over HIS own nipples.
Now, if you're a female in Egypt, and a guy approaches you with that, it is a definite: "Na3am ya 3omar"situation, if you're a male, well, it's your call.
But not here. The salesman shows a set of strapless backless stick on brassieres to another customer. "You must lean forward to allow your breasts to fill the cups," he says leaning forward, trying to mimic the action, "then lift it up". So does he. She points to another set. "These are no good," he says holding them, "breasts tend to fall out, you see, because they are separated", again, he tries to mimic "the falling out" on his own chest.
Don't get him wrong. My hand is clutching that of my 6'' 3' husband, the other lady with a probable husband too. Another two girls are in.
What lead us all into that awkward sitcom situation? Me, my husband, a lady with another husband, probably, and two totally covered up girls "looking for strapless backless brassieres", and an Asian guy who's trying to mimic the expected movements of breasts in a "backless strapless stick on no nipples sticker" bra?
It's The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the land that turned "illogic" into an art. Females are not allowed to work in situations where they mix with males, with only two exceptions, medical field and house help. Undergarments shops are not among the exceptions. Add to this that women are not allowed by law to try clothes in shops before buying it, so salesmen have to go an extra mile to help their customers who will take their purchases home blindly.
Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against equal opportunity that allows a male to work in a lingerie shop, if he's like that guy and knows what he is talking about. More likely, a typical lingerie shop conversation goes more like:
Question: "Is this a 38 B with the padding or without the padding?"
Question: "what is the size in European standard?"
Question: "I need something that does not show a panty line"
Then the poor woman is shown every single pair of underwear around the shop because the guy has no clue what on earth she's talking about.
In Egypt, women would feel awkward and uncomfortable discussing undergarment choices with men, they'd rather do it with a female, it's also easier to get information through. Thinking about it: in Egypt, girls do not work in shops for men's underwear, it's always men. Intriguing. Would men feel uncomfortable discussing their underwear purchases with a saleswoman? Maybe it's the same reason: it's easier to get information through.
What I think about every time I pass one of these shops is: "where does putting a man in a lingerie shop to discuss thongs, G-strings and push-up bra choices with ladies fit along the whole Wahabi logic of covering the women herself completely up, where no detail of her appears? The same logic that does not allow a woman to head to the bank and handle her accounts or needs except in the ladies section with ladies? So: It's not ok for you to discuss financial stuff with a guy, but it's ok to discuss buttock lifting body suits? The logic that prohibits women from driving partly because that would mean male officers would pull them over as they would any other male driver, although those male officers are unlikely to bring up the subject of lacy brassier on sale? How do they solve these dilemmas? Oh, they don't, instead, they turn "illogic" into an art: You don't understand it, you just appreciate it, if you have the soul that can appreciate it.
And the kind Asian salesman: He was right, he was absolutely right.