Like most 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 have been wearing cheap sports bras. But no more. I realized that the only reason I still wore bras at all is because men are the worst. So I am now officially done with bras and 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 am not one of those people that can “get away” (whatever that means) with not wearing a bra. My boobs are around a D-cup last I checked, and I am 35 and have given birth. You can tell when I am not wearing a bra.
So while I have hated wearing bras, I was scared that I would have even more men stare 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 area that is especially Catholic and conservative and already deal with silent (and not so silent) judgment about how I look and talk. I was especially worried about my nipples getting hard and showing, but it’s happened and the world didn’t end.
Since I was a teenager I have 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. I’m sick of thinking about hypothetical men’s responses to my body and what I am wearing or not wearing. 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 am not the first feminist to not wear a bra. Though I wasn’t around, I’ve heard that used to be a thing (though not thinking trans women were “real” women was also a thing with a lot of those those second wave feminists, 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 that support them called feminists.
Here are some questions (and answers) that I have asked myself or have been asked by others about my bralessness:
What about running? I am disabled and don’t/can’t run.
Well, I like to wear bras! Cool! Do whatever you want!
Won’t your nipples show? Sometimes! (Especially in the cold.) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Boob sweat? I feel like I 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 etc. thing that we call) “professionalism”.
More Radical Reads: Long Live Yoga Pants, Leggings, Nipples, and Camel Toes
This may seem like a small, ridiculous thing to a lot of people, most likely to people who have not felt obligated to wear a bra even though bras can be super uncomfortable. 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.
More Radical Reads: Undoing Childhood Body Shame: On Loving Your Body Enough To Listen To It
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[Feature Image: A photo of a storefront’s window. There are series of grey mannequins in the shop wearing various types of beige full-body and single piece underwear. Source: Liliana Amundaraín]