Victoria's secret: Formaldehyde?

A woman files a lawsuit claiming her bras made her break out in hives.

Published November 12, 2008 11:40AM (EST)

Imagine this commercial: A Brazilian bombshell clad in Victoria's Secret panties poses in front of a stark black background, focuses her bedroom eyes on the camera and purrs, "I have a secret. Your bra is covered in formaldehyde." That's Victoria's real secret, according to a new lawsuit that claims some bras are produced using the embalming chemical, which can cause rashes and permanent scarring.

Roberta Ritter claims she had an allergic reaction to the Very Sexy Extreme Me Push-Up and Angels Secret Embrace. "I had the welts ... very red, hot to the touch, extremely inflamed, blistery. It itched profusely. I couldn't sleep, waking up itching," the 37-year-old told ABC News. Ritter's lawyers purchased and tested the bra styles at issue and found that they contained formaldehyde. Since filing the lawsuit in May, Ritter's lawyers say they have been contacted by dozens of women with similar complaints; they hope to soon launch a class-action lawsuit.

Victoria Secret denies using formaldehyde in production, and responded: "We are sorry that a small number of people have had an issue and we want to help them determine the cause. Customer safety and satisfaction are always our primary concerns and we take seriously any issues our customers may have with our products." Obviously, judgment should be withheld, because there's no saying at this point whether the claim is fair or valid.

But there is something else I have to get off my chest, so to speak: I banished my Victoria's Secret collection to the waste bin a couple of months ago after a friend pushed me into a real bra-fitting with the promise: "This will change your life." I discovered that for several years I'd been wearing two cup sizes too small, thanks in no small part to the two-sizes-too-small sensibility of my brand of choice since puberty. It feels damn good to be free from the pull of the store's neon-pink peep show signage, and to wear a bra built to support rather than display. My public service announcement: Double boobs might look hot in catalog spreads, but, in real life, your breasts aren't meant to be next-door neighbors with your chin -- they deserve their own ZIP Code, each of 'em.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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