This year, I starting going braless. I harness up only when completely necessary, but most days, my boobs are free to bounce, shake, and jiggle freely. I can’t imagine ever going back to daily bra wearing. Here’s why I gave up wearing bras and how I’ve learned to compromise over time.
I vividly remember the first day I wore a bra. I was in the fourth grade, and for whatever reason (read: my mom) I decided it was time for me to saddle my breasts up for the rest of their lives. I was wearing a bright green T-shirt and underneath a white sports bra from Limited Too. The whole day I was blushing and mortified, afraid someone would notice the straps peaking out from under my shirt, over my collarbone. It felt violating and unnecessary, but like some other girls in my class who were approaching puberty, it was about “time” I strapped up.
But did I really have to put on a bra that early, or was I just doing what everyone else was doing when their breasts began to sprout? These days, I question if I should have ever worn a bra to begin with.
The whole bra concept is pushed upon us as woman as a necessary step if not a ritual in our mature lives. It’s a given, and few of us question it. I mean, there is a clear positive to wearing a bra: support. But, even then, is the bra really promising much?
I’ve been wearing a bra everyday for 20 years, but I have only recently begun to doubt the apparel‘s necessity. Over the past few years, my bra, which has long been like a fifth limb, has begun to feel foreign. I’ve been coming across (admittedly thin on science) articles about how bras weaken chest muscles, impair breathing, and may even cause cancer. One article cited a 15-year scientific study in France in which researchers concluded that young women would gain more tone and supporting breast tissue if they stopped wearing bras.
I also read somewhere, although it may have no scientific backing, that boobs are designed to bounce and jiggle freely — the free movement allows them to better flush themselves of toxins and boost circulation.
The more I read (including this Refinery29 article), the more it started to make sense. Maybe my body was designed to be enough on its own and that this so-called “support” offered by bras was ironically doing the opposite. I decided to give going braless a chance.
What it’s Like to Not Wear a Bra
For the past six months, I haven’t worn a bra, except for when I exercise or when I am wearing a piece of clothing that demands a bra, else I flash the community.
My boobs are free –- I can breathe deeper and there is no pressure on my back and chest. There was no sagging sensation (my biggest worry) either, and even after six months, my boobs are still their perky selves. To be honest, nothing really changed at all, except that my upper body feels lighter and a bit looser. If I’m benefiting on deeper levels, even better.
But even so, I am slowly finding myself yearning for a bra alternative, rather than getting rid of the bra altogether. I was lucky that I started the no-bra lifestyle in the winter, when I could cover my body with layers of clothing. Under these layers, no one could see the shape of my boobs or their bounciness. It was an easy transition.
As hotter weather nears, I am gravitating toward wearing bras again to avoid nip slips and the unsavory (to me) general layout and presentation of my chest as I wear tighter shirts. Instead of wearing loose clothing to hide my boobs or opting for clothing that is tight enough to act as its own self-contained bra, I’d rather put on a bra and wear whatever clothing I want.
The Compromise: Bralettes and Pasties
When I exercise, I need a sports bra to avoid discomfort. And when I am dressing up for a special event or showing more skin, I opt for a bra to avoid a nip slip or to properly accent the outfit I’m wearing with a colorful undergarment as a fashion statement.
But on a day-to-day basis, not wearing a bra has been empowering and liberating, and something I want to continue, even in the summer. To go both with and without a bra at the same time –- that is, to have my cake and eat it too –- I’ve relied on two things: bralettes and pasties. With these on my side, I can protect my chest without straining it.
The bralette is usually flimsy in support and construction. It doesn’t have wiring and acts a shield, if only symbolic, between breasts and clothing. Pasties are stick-on nipples that offer a semblance of chest protection by shielding nipples from feeling vulnerable to the world (and to the cold).
These two have been my saviors in the no-bra experiment. My main goal in going braless has been to avoid the underwire and this feeling of being squished, poked, and pushed when all I want to do is be free.