Young women today aren’t given an option when it comes to wearing a bra. When you reach a certain age, wearing a bra becomes a necessity – a requirement on par to wearing pants.
There are memes everywhere that satirically comment on the fact that most women can’t wait to take their bra off at the end of a long day. It’s become well-known that bras are uncomfortable, and yet we still wear them. Why? Because we’re supposed to. Because society says so. Well, society, I’m here to call BS.
Let me begin by explaining what happened when I searched for photos to go alongside this blog. To make a long story short, there are no photos on the internet of braless women that aren’t over-sexualized. That’s the first problem.
There are no photos on the internet of braless women that aren’t over-sexualized.
So, the first reason why going braless should be a choice, not an expectation:
1. To help end the over-sexualization of female breasts
The first evidence of bras dates back to the corset. Designed in the 1500s for middle and upper class western women, the purpose of this restrictive garment was to enhance a woman’s feminine curves.
Without a doubt, societal expectations of gender have shifted quite a bit in the past few centuries. Today, women are given the option to wear makeup, the choice to wear pants rather than skirts, and the opportunity to cut their hair to any length they please. Bravo, society! But, in most cases, wearing a bra is still a requirement. If I chose not to wear a bra to work tomorrow, I would be frowned upon and, quite likely, sent home. But what if wearing a bra isn’t my personal preference? What about the women who don’t feel comfortable wearing a bra due to their gender identities?
Whether we like it or not, the majority of bras are still made to emphasize a woman’s shape. Padding and underwire and fabric cuts are designed to amplify the flat-chested and lift the “well-endowed” because the expectation is that that’s what we’re all looking for. We all want to appear more feminine. But that’s not the case. Not even a little bit.
The expectation is that we all want to appear more feminine. But that’s not the case.
Believe it or not, many women want to appear more androgynous. Many young girls are reluctant to wear a bra when they realize it makes them appear shapelier. But because bra companies are continuing to market their product toward women who want to appear larger and perkier, the rest of us are left having to shop in the sports bra department which, for lack of a better term, sucks. Because let’s face it – sports bras are no picnic. Not to mention they’re also ill-favored in most work environments for being too “casual”.
So what options are we left with? Not many. We can take the easy route and wear a conventional bra that makes us appear more full-bodied, or we can buy a bra designed for athletes that cuts off our circulation and makes us feel restricted. Either way – we’re bound to the bras. And we’re bound to be judged by our choice in one way or another. Would wearing no bra stop this judgement? Likely not. But maybe if we embraced the natural shape of our breasts rather than playing into the belief that they’re meant to be upright and round, we could create a movement that would end the sexualization. Plus, if I’m going to be objectified on society’s stage, I’d rather not wear the costume.
2. It can be better for your health!
I hate to break it to you, ladies… the health advantages of wearing a bra are highly exaggerated. The truth is, every body is different, and some women actually benefit from setting their boobies free. In fact, wearing a bra can impede circulation and weaken the surrounding muscles.
Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sport science researcher and professor, conducted a study to determine the effect of bras on women aged 18-35. The research team recorded the changes to women’s breasts over a 15-year period, and concluded that wearing a bra from an early age did nothing to help support the chest, reduce back pain or prevent sagging – three primary reasons why women wear bras in the first place. “Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” said Professor Rouillon. “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”
“Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity.”
So if you really want to support your breast tissue, maybe going braless is the answer.
3. It’ll save you money
This point is short and sweet. Like it or not, going braless will save you hundreds of dollars. We’re all sadly aware of the rising cost of undergarments and, personally, I’d rather spend my hard-earned cash on items that are actually necessary, like food and rent – and I’m willing to bet that many of you secretly feel the same way.
When you need to wear a bra
Some activities and events are just plain awkward if you’re not wearing a bra. While I hope this will change, for now it’s the reality. So if you feel uncomfortable going braless to work or your brother’s graduation or a children’s fundraising event, then I encourage you to invest in a bralette. Flimsy and minimal, the bralette offers support without constricting the way a cup does – and it’s comfortable as hell. I’m a huge advocate for letting everything hang loose, but I get it. Sometimes a little support isn’t a bad thing.
Alternatively, some women wear a bra because they claim it helps reduce back pain. If you’re one of those women, by all means, wear a bra! The title of this blog is not “why you shouldn’t wear a bra”, because I truly believe it should be an option, not a necessity. I want the taboo surrounding bralessness to end, but that doesn’t mean you should grin and bear it if skipping the bra causes you pain! The bottom line? Do what makes you feel comfortable, and make sure you’re not doing anything just because society says you should do it.
Do what makes you feel comfortable, and make sure you’re not doing anything just because society says you should do it.
Bra or no bra, let’s embrace real beauty. Let’s embrace safe, comfortable, happy beauty. Unstrap those straps and unclip those clips, ladies – or don’t! Just be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
Have thoughts on the topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below to weigh in!
Emily Watson is a freelance writer and certified yoga and medical Qi Gong instructor. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and has been writing – creatively and otherwise – for ten years. Off the mat and away from the keyboard, Emily can be found hiking, camping and traveling with her wife and fur babies. She currently lives and works for a publishing company in Peterborough, Ontario.