Going braless isn’t just a comfortable choice to make in lockdown, it can actually be doing your boobs more good than you realise, explains Esther Newman.
It was at a music festival a few years ago that I first went bra-free. It was sweltering hot; like everyone else, I was caked in three days’ worth of mud, sweat and glitter (as well as sticky apple cider that a tipsy friend had split down me). Losing the bra was hardly a radical choice to make: most other women had done the same, and it was a festival – we all know that people are a lot looser and a lot less uptight at festivals.
But after that one weekend, something shifted for me. Without the uncomfortable underwire digging into my ribs and tight elastic straps cutting the skin of my shoulders, I felt so much more comfortable. Freer almost. From that point on I gradually started to go bra-free more and more, opting for the the best bra without wires that I could find on the market.
At first, I chose my moments carefully – quick trips out to the corner shop for a pint of milk, or nights out with my closest friends – until it became second nature. Now I often go braless day-to-day, even sometimes at work and on dates depending on how I feel. This piece you’re reading right now? Written while braless. In truth, it’s a lifestyle that suits my current daily commute from bed to sofa very well, thank you very much.
As it turns out, I am not alone. More and more of us are rejecting bras in lockdown, so much so that many in the media are dubbing it the ‘end of the bra’. Google ‘braless’ and you will be inundated with articles warning about the so-called ‘dangers’ of going bra-free, based on disproven scientific claims (many of which, interestingly, are written by members of the lingerie industry). Of course, it is important to note that, for many women with larger breasts, bras offer much-needed support and reduce back pain. But as the pandemic continues to show us the difference between the practices that we enjoy and find empowering, and those society has drilled into us – like growing a hairy bikini line.
I think it’s about time we address our relationship with the bra and the myths surrounding the braless lifestyle. At the end of the day, when it comes to deciding what to do with your own boobs, there really is no wrong choice.
A brief history of the braless movement
The braless movement is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it’s origins can be traced back to the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960s. In particular, the protest at the Miss America Pageant of 1968, where protestors threw products closely associated with womanhood – bras, girdles, corsets, hairspray, makeup, false eyelashes and mops – into dustbins in order to protest against “enforced femininity”.
Ever since, the decision to not wear a bra has become a strongly political one, often considered a woman’s refusal to conform to societal pressure to look or act a certain way. Come the 1970s, the ubiquitous no-bra look was a lingering statement in an era of free love and a new decade of Disco. The 1980s and 1990s saw the return of the ‘power bra’, thanks to the rise of Victoria’s Secret, Madonna’s iconic Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra (debuted on her Blond Ambition Tour in 1990), and the world-famous ‘Hello boys’ Wonderbra adverts that premiered in 1994.
While society’s pressure on women to wear bras has lessened somewhat, today the decision to go braless is still a politicised one – and that is because of the nipple. Eight years after filmmaker Lina Esco instigated the #FreeTheNipple movement, a woman’s bare breast is still censored on Instagram, while a man’s is not. Instagram’s ban just underlines a fact that women have grappled with for decades – unlike other body parts, our breasts (and what we do or don’t wear over them) have never been neutral. Even in 2020 they still carry outmoded cultural and sexual expectations.
Source: Women & Home
Original publication 3 December, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 13th January 2021
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.