Like many people who wear bras, I hate them. The best part of every day is when I get home and can take off my bra. I abandoned lacy and pretty bras awhile ago, then underwire had to go, and now for the last few years I’ve been wearing cheap sports bras. But no more.
I realized the only reason I still wore bras at all is because of being sexually objectified by men. So I am now officially done with bras. I won’t keep torturing myself just because some men don’t know how to behave around boobs.
Before I go much further, I want to make clear that I’m not one of those people who can “get away” (whatever that means) with not wearing a bra. My boobs are around a D cup the last I checked, and I am 35 and have given birth. You can tell when I’m not wearing a bra.
So while I’ve hated wearing bras, I was scared I would have even more men staring at my boobs and more women silently judging me and glaring. This was also compounded by the fact that I live in a small depressed city in an especially Catholic and conservative area, which causes me to already deal with silent and not so silent judgment about how I look and talk. I was particularly worried about my nipples getting hard and showing, but it has happened and the world didn’t end.
Since I was a teenager I’ve been worried about giving the “wrong signals” to men. As if I could magically avoid being sexually assaulted by not flirting with guys (spoiler alert: it didn’t work). I have also dressed much more “modestly” than I would have liked for most of my life for the same reason. But I’m sick of thinking about hypothetical men’s responses to my body and what I’m wearing or not wearing.
More Radical Reads: Undoing Childhood Body Shame: On Loving Your Body Enough To Listen To It
As a woman I have accepted that we are never safe from sexual assault, harassment, or other patriarchal unpleasantness, and since there is no way to save myself from it, I may as well be comfortable.
Of course, I know I’m not the first feminist to reject wearing a bra. Though I wasn’t around, I’ve heard that used to be a thing during second-wave feminism. (Of course, refusing to believe trans women are “real” women is also a thing associated with a lot of feminists influenced by certain types of second-wave feminism, so I think it makes sense to try to distance myself a bit from them.)
And anyway, bras were not even burned in the 60s. “Bra burner” was basically like this era’s “misandrist”: a word that bitter and insecure men and the women who supported them called feminists.
Here are some questions and answers to those questions when it comes to discussing my bralessness and its feminist implications as well as practicalities. These are answers to questions I’ve both asked myself or have been asked by others about my bralessness.”
“Well, I like to wear bras!” Cool! Do whatever you want!
“What about running?” I am disabled and don’t/can’t run.
“Won’t your nipples show?” Sometimes! (Especially in the cold.) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
“What about boob sweat?” I think I probably have the same amount of boob sweat either way, but I do like to tuck my clothes under my boobs to mop up the sweat.
“What about job interviews or other things like that?” I will wear bras when I feel like I need to for (bullshit classist, racist, ableist, and other oppressive things we call) “professionalism”.
More Radical Reads: Long Live Yoga Pants, Leggings, Nipples, and Camel Toes
Refusing to wear a bra may seem like a small, ridiculous thing to a lot of people, most likely those who haven’t felt obligated to wear a bra. I have gotten less reaction from strangers than I thought I would, but I still have to give myself a little pep talk every time I get dressed to remind myself that I am not responsible for other people’s reactions to my body. Just like I should not have to constrain my thoughts and opinions, I should not have to arbitrarily constrain parts of my body to make other people more comfortable.
Feature Image: A photo of a storefront’s window. There are multiple grey mannequins in the window wearing various types of beige full-body and single-piece underwear. Source: Liliana Amundaraín]