Here’s my story with bras:
I stopped wearing them after realizing I don’t give a shit.
I grew up hearing you need them to cover up your nipples, prevent bouncing and look professional. To keep your breasts from sagging and be hot.
As time went on, I discovered many of these warnings were either unfounded or trivial.
Despite these epiphanies, my decision to stop wearing “boob-shackles” (as my best friend calls them), started off financial.
Two years ago I lost 35 pounds, so none of my bras fit. At one point, I was determined to re-stock my bra collection—this time with ones that were pretty.
The goal was ambitious, given how expensive bras can be. I only bought two new ones before I realized buying them would cost more than just money.
Bras never made me happy.
Whenever I’d wear them, the underwire would leave this ugly half-circle indentation on my skin that emphasized how much my breasts had shrunk.
Let’s get this straight: I’ve never been self-conscious about breast-size. And I’m actually happier being smaller. But the last thing I wanted were permanent skin creases outlining my old size.
Now. Even though I never felt pressured to be ashamed of my breast size…bras/bra culture still fucked with my head.
Like a lot of people, I used to excessively scrutinize my naked body in the mirror as a child and teenager. I’d regularly jerk my breasts up and hold them just below my armpits in an attempt to alter where they developed.
As an avid fan of Barbie doll and Sailor Moon, disproportionate figures with unrealistically high-up chests seemed natural and attractive.
The popularity of push-up bras did nothing to subdue my faith in this misconception. In fact, it reaffirmed my desire to hide the perfectly natural location of my breasts.
Because I had large breasts all through high school (and my first semester at UWM), I wanted push-up bras—but I didn’t want any padding!
Such bras didn’t seem to exist in teen underwear departments. So I made do.
Every day I would put on one of my many boring, white bras and adjust the shoulder straps super tight. The under-band would always be much higher on my back than the front part of my bra could go without my breasts slipping out. Which they did on occasion.
While I hope and believe most bra-wearing women know not to tighten their straps as much as I did, the studies I’ve read indicate the vast majority of women buy the wrong sized bra. This is a problem, because not wearing the right bra size can lead to back pain and other physical health problems.
This trend can be attributed both to poor consumer knowledge and the way bras are produced.
Think about it—when you mass-produce clothing, you don’t have the option of tailoring. Yet some garments (like pants) require more precise measurements than others (scarves) to fit well.
When it comes to fitting something like bras, you have to take into account how thick someone’s ribcage is, the width and size of their breasts and how far they sit below the collarbone—never mind the differences that main-stream manufacturers refuse to account for (e.g., asymmetry).
Even well-fitted bras can be unhealthy. They cover up the natural shape of breasts, which can lead young girls, who are typically sheltered from pictures of healthy, naked bodies, to question the shape of their own chests.
You may object that bras alter appearance in the same way any other part of fashion does, but it’s less frowned upon to show teenagers a portrait of someone without massacre than a top.
I didn’t know my breasts were normal until college. One person’s experiences don’t necessarily represent those of others. But many girls grew up surrounded by the same images and taboos, so it’s reasonable to argue that I’m not an isolated case.
While I don’t have any passionate political opposition to bras, I do have a problem with the under-questioned pressure to wear them.
Bras can be fun and make you feel sexy, or give you back pain and skew with your body image. But they’ve become a part of almost every girl’s life in different ways.
What’s your story?