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It’s Time to Question What We (Think) We Know about Bras

by Katie Jgln about a year ago in gender roles
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And free ourselves from the conviction we need to wear one

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I stopped wearing a bra over a year ago.

And I wasn't alone in that.

With the rise of remote work and social distancing rules imposed throughout the world, women were free to ditch these, often uncomfortable, breast contraptions.

Although even before the pandemic turned our world upside down, I wasn't a huge fan of wearing one.

Sure, I might have sporadically enjoyed wearing an extra push-up bra to pretend I have a D instead of a B-cup. But I never truly got why is it so deeply ingrained in our brains that we need to wear it. Every. Single. Day.

Otherwise what? Someone will be able to see my nipples? A body part majority of mammals on this planet have? Shocking.

Wearing a bra is a societal norm above all else

I remember the first time my mother went bra shopping with me. I was ten years old. She bought me one of those training bras for teenagers.

And I recall her saying that I have to wear a bra because my boobs start to show. And we don't want them to become soggy too quickly, now do we?

I didn't fully get it, mainly because my boobs were practically invisible at that age (and they didn't grow much ever since). I also didn't know what soggy boobs were. But I wore it. I proudly wore it like a badge of womanhood I thought it was.

The thing is, it's not bras that are the symbol of feminity - it's breasts.

Unfortunately, our society has this unhealthy, patriarchy-driven obsession with the objectification of female bodies. Breasts, in particular, pay a high price for that. Women who aren't wearing bras in public, with their nipples showing through the clothing, are often considered vulgar.

And the same applies to women without a bra whose breasts don't fit into the societal standards of breasts. Perky, full breasts are inextricably linked with both youth and beauty in our society. Everything other than that is considered unattractive, even though breasts come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

Wearing a bra became a societal norm to repress a woman's natural and perfectly normal state of being. To mould her into a submissive, sexual creature.

Otherwise, why would we call women who decide to go braless radical, brave and empowered?

No, not everyone needs to wear one

It's a safe generalization that many of us wear bras intending to preserve our breasts' shape and stop them from sagging. That's conventional wisdom.

And wearing a bra is indeed essential for some women's breast health, such as women with heavy breasts and pregnant or lactating women.

But for most of us, a bra is not necessary anatomically, medically, or physiologically.

According to results of a French 15-year study involving 330 volunteers between the ages 18 and 35, women who did not wear a bra had a 7-millimetre lift in their nipples each year.

Some woman in the study even said that after ditching the bra, they could breathe better, had better posture, and had less back pain. This is despite the fact that bras are historically designed to improve posture and lessen back and breast pain.

This essentially means that there was little reason for my mother to tell my 10-year-old self that I needed to wear a bra. I didn't need to. Not really.

Going braless should be a personal choice, not a political statement

Female empowerment is all about CHOICE.

And the decision to wear or not wear a bra is a choice like many others; no girl or woman should be shamed or coerced to choose one or the other. It has to be a matter of bodily autonomy and not a social norm.

After spending a braless year and enjoying it thoroughly, I will not be going back to the habit of wearing a bra every single time I'm out in public. I find wearing one uncomfortable, and for the most part, unnecessary.

To some people, that might seem like a political statement. In a way, every personal choice a woman makes tends to have unavoidable political connotations. And that's because we live in a patriarchal society, a system set up and perpetuated by men.

But what I decide to do with my boobs shouldn't have anything to do with politics.

Going braless has to be depoliticized and desexualized so that women can choose what is suitable for their bodies and embrace it.

On their own terms.

Final thoughts

Going braless shouldn't be seen as inappropriate, unprofessional or slutty.

Women's clothing choices also shouldn't be viewed as making a statement that defines your appearance or who you are as a person.

I don't wear a bra because I don't like it. Someone else might need to wear it or enjoy wearing it for aesthetic reasons.

Both choices are valid. It's as simple as that.

This story was originally published on Medium.

gender roles

About the author

Katie Jgln

Sometimes serious, sometimes funny, always stirring the pot. Social sciences nerd based in London. Check out my other social media: www.linktr.ee/katiejgln

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