At age 10, there was nothing I wanted more than to wear a bra. Some girls in my grade had already started wearing training bras, and I yearned desperately to be part of that club. I vividly remember the day that my mother gave me my first trainer. I was filled with such joy that I gave a huge smile that stretched from ear to ear. That very “sexy” (to my then 10-year-old eyes) trainer bra, black with a little bit of lace trimming, was all mine. I was becoming a real bra-wearing woman.
As the years rolled by, my excitement for bra wearing evolved into boredom, which grew into mild annoyance, which finally ballooned into full-on dislike. Underwire, hooks, straps… all of it became too cumbersome, so much so that a couple months back I unwittingly started weaning myself off of bras. Now, I know some people are probably rolling their eyes at this point and thinking to themselves, “Here’s another hippie chick thinking she’s too good for basic societal norms like bra wearing,” but let me assure you that I have no deep seeded desire to be countercultural for the sake of being countercultural. My motivation for going braless is far less political or interesting than that: I just want to be more comfortable.
At first, I started off not wearing a bra at home after work, but that quickly extended to braless weekends (yes, even in public). The only place I was yet to venture braless was to work. I won’t lie; I did have some initial worries about going into work sans bra. I kept imagining that I would be summoned to HR, scolded for letting my bosom run amuck, and sent home with a stern warning. HR would later issue a company-wide email reminding all female staff that all breasts must remain appropriately contained during work hours. None of that happened, in fact, not a single person even eyed my chest suspiciously. I relished in my new found freedom for the whole week.
When I’ve told friends that being braless is a thing I’m doing regularly now they, too, have failed to notice. But, their reactions can be summed up into three general remarks:
OMG, what about nippleage?
What about it? I first became aware that female nipples were taboo right around the time my breasts were developing. It was 1996 and the Spice Girls had just dropped the music video to their debut hit single “Wannabe” when I learned that the video had been banned in some countries because Mel B had a nip situation going on that you could easily see. The point here is that nipples weren’t a big deal to me until I was told that they’re a big deal. We’ve been conditioned to see women’s nipples as vulgar, and I’m not sure why. The mere semblance of nipples visible through clothing whips us into frenzy, yet those are the same nipples that may provide nourishment to an infant. Meh, I’m over nippleage.
Loose boobs jiggle too much—they’ll be too sexual!
For most of the day I’m not engaged in intense physical activity, so there isn’t a whole lot of boob movement happening that could sexually entice a thirsty on-looker. On the contrary, I think that my breasts look sexier when I’m wearing a bra. Bras smoosh by breasts close together to create the appearance of cleavage, make them look plumper and rounder and hike them further up my chest for all to see; whereas without a bra, my 34C breasts hang a little lower, the cleavage disappears and they look smaller.
Get ready for your boobs to sag to your knees!
Ugh, this is by far the most common response I get. So here’s the thing, whether bras can actually prevent breast sagging is still hotly debatable. Some women swear by wearing a bra 24/7 to keep the girls perky, while others claim that getting rid of the bra actually helped them gain a little lift. In any case, what we do know for sure is that age will eventually take its toll and the elasticity of the Cooper’s ligaments, which help to keep up the breasts, will slacken. So until then, I plan on enjoying as much bra-free time I can.
What I will say about going braless, which is a bit of a negative, is that what you choose to wear does become quite important if you’re not trying to draw attention to that area. I favor dark colors over lighter ones, and sometimes I will layer with a tank top or camisole underneath if I’m feeling too naked on that day. I will also add that, unfortunately for me, it does hurt to work out without a bra on, so I do compromise on this and wear a sports bra during high impact workouts.
I’m not advocating that everyone should try going braless, especially if you experience pain without a bra on. My personal experience has been that not wearing a bra is usually most comfortable, in spite of professional bra fittings and spending several coins on top-end bras. So if you are interested in breaking up with your bras but have been too scared to, take comfort in knowing that there are other women out there who are already doing it—you probably just don’t notice it.