Why I gave up bras and will I ever go back?
A few of you will probably already know this, considering I regularly announce my lack of bra wearing in person on a regular basis. It’s mainly because a. It changed my life (dramatic much?) and b. I want other ladies to know the option exists. The first bra I ever owned was from Marks and Spencer’s after I begged my Mum to take me for a fitting, determined that I was a grown woman who needed support. I was 10 years old. The bra was a triple A size, soft cup and not under-wired. I was disappointed at the size (surely I was at least an A like some of my friends claimed to be) but none the less, I owned a collection of bras now – since I’d convinced my Mum to spend a small fortune on the few they had in that size. And that was it. Everyday from there, waking-up and getting dressed involved wearing a bra…
Skip forward to high school and my still tiny self was so desperate to fill out bigger sizes. I’d buy padded bras and push-up ones that hung a little loose but gave me confidence. It didn’t occur to me that, as a 13-year-old that could still fit in her 5-year-old cousin’s clothes that, it would be a while still before I actually needed to wear one. Fast forward again to college and uni, when I finally began to feel properly in control of my eating and actually had reason to strap myself in everyday. At this point, I’d been wearing bras everyday (a lot of the time unnecessarily) for well over ten years. After a long day, I’d look forward to getting home, whipping that bra off and getting into comfy clothes. Because lets face it, bras are uncomfortable. No matter where you go, if you get fitted properly or not, they dig in, the wiring is awkward and it’s a relief getting out of them at the end of the day. But what if you didn’t have to experience that relief because you never had the discomfort or pain or irritation build up? What If you just didn’t wear a bra?
This was about the time that the bralette trend really started taking off. Instagram was full of skinny gals in flower crowns, tiny Levi shorts and lace bralettes with nothing underneath. Topshop was stocked to the rafters with tiny cotton triangle bras. But I couldn’t wear either, could I? I had missed out on going bra free when I was smaller and now I was stuck with the option of scaffolding in this colour or that. So I persevered with the discomfort, in the knowledge that I needed to wear them or – god forbid – my boobs would sag. Unless they looked so perky they could almost be fake (but only almost, because let’s be real, fake boobs would have me branded a slut or similar at any opportunity by online trolls irrelevant to pretty much anything), my boobs wouldn’t be quite right.
I let these views continue to frame the way I dressed for far too long, until I met a woman called Melissa. On a photo shoot for American Apparel, with barely dressed models in danger of free-ing the nip at any moment, she loudly questioned ‘why anyone would wear a bra in their twenties’. And it was light bulb moment. She didn’t ask why thin people wore bras, or women with smaller chests. She was talking to me – not directly, but for the first time in a conversation about not wearing bras, I fit the bill. Now I’m a believer you can ditch the bra at any age you like, but at the time, this hit me like a bus. I’d already wasted all those years feeling pressured and uncomfortable, and hearing that statement was what it took. Wear a bra when you need one.
Now women have plenty of reasons for wearing bras. I’m not saying everyone should whip it off, burn it and join some cult. But if you feel comfortable, give it a go. If you don’t, you do you girl. Just don’t waste time because you don’t think you can do it. I still go back to bras (soft, sports top style) every now and again, mostly during my period because even walking about can cause serious boob ache. After I first ditched the bra, I could really feel every step I took on the stairs, but now I don’t even notice. Also I still have cute bras that I wear occasionally, because it’s totally cool to want to feel good. This isn’t a ‘if you ever wear bras again you’re a traitor’ kinda post. It’s a ‘try setting yourself free and if you like it, who knows).
I can’t even count the number of guys who’ve told me that my boobs will go saggy if I don’t wear a bra. In fact, I think even my Mum ran that worry by me. But I reassured her like I told those guys, I’m working the muscle rather than depending on a bra to hold them up and what the fuck does it matter anyway? It’s my body. I will do my best to dress for myself and not be influenced by what other people want from me.
Will I ever go back? It all depends. If I ever have kids and breastfeed, there’s the whole nursing bra sitch and also damn that shit sounds painful. If I need to, I will. But not because someone tells me too and not because I’m scared they’ll sag!
The moral of this pretty wordy tale? Do whatever the fuck you want.