To Bra or Not to Bra, that is the Question

Maddie Kibria

I love my bras. “Blessed” with fabulous, voluptuous D-cups, I never thought that not wearing a bra was an option. Clothes that weren’t too revealing, without plunging necklines or buttons that were sure to pop open, were the only things I was certain I could wear. As someone who did not know of a life where I could even step out of the house without a bra, I was outraged, dumbfounded, and outright appalled when my best friend barged into my room one day and said, “Maddie! Promise me you will never wear a bra again!” I simply told her to get out and never utter those words in my presence again. But she was relentless – insisting that I would get breast cancer if I always wore a bra, that my breasts would lose shape and sag by the time I was 25, and that bras were cutting off the much needed blood circulation to my two perky mates.

Living in a conservative Muslim society, where everyone scrutinizes your body and outfit the moment you walk out the door, going braless seemed neither feasible, nor socially acceptable. You wouldn’t be caught dead showing even the slightest bit of cleavage, side-boob or the hint of a bra strap, let alone wearing anything without a bra. This was the life I knew and I was fine with it until I came here.

Relieved that I now no longer live under the watchful eyes of judgmental, prudish on-lookers, I can wear whatever I like, with or without a bra. I can buy whatever I like, and then run off to my friends to rave about my new super booby dress. How I dress and whether or not I wear a bra is now my choice, not the choice of those around me. Not wearing a bra isn’t just a mundane act for me – it’s an expression of freedom. Free from the conventions I was drowning in, free to do what makes me comfortable, free to tell my boyfriend – now ex-boyfriend – that he’s not my father and doesn’t dictate my appearance. I no longer spend time trying to hide my body, as if I’ve committed some great sin against mankind. I don’t live trying to fit people’s shallow criteria anymore.

My best friend looked at me last week and noticed I wasn’t wearing a bra. She asked me, just to double check, smirked, and then reminded me of the tirade of abuse I threw at her that day, for merely suggesting that I live “braless”. I laughed and said, “You were right though. I feel fucking great.”

Emily Campbell

My fashion sense was recently described as comfortable yet chic. I am yet to figure out if having the word comfortable in there is a compliment or not, but I’m going to own it for now. Not wearing a bra is, more often than not, part of that ‘comfortable’ style. Work, presentations, a night out, anywhere! I usually get comments from my friends when I’m not wearing a bra, though I suspect they can’t tell most of the time. I think my mum sees it as some sort of feminist statement, and my best friend just thinks I’m lazy. Honestly, I’m just way more comfortable without one, and I’m hoping we are moving towards a time where we can all make these choices based on what makes us comfortable, not on what we are made to feel is normal. I’d like to live in a world where my one rule (no white or sheer tops without a bra) isn’t needed.

Catherine Claessens

I’ll begin with a disclaimer: I am a rather small woman; pixie-sized in height and width, a 12a around the chest area. I’ve never known what it is to be ‘big’ in my whole life, and have thus never known the inconveniences (and fabulosity) that can come with big boobs – mine are more like semi-spherical chicken fillets. Bras have become somewhat useless as, while I do possess certifiable boobs™, they’ve never required restraining. Until the age of 21 I never questioned wearing a bra – it’s the given undergarment every femme-identifying person wears, yeah? They give you two lovely smooth pebble-shaped mounds, and boom! You’re now a woman™. In 2013, however, I started meeting women who’d stopped wearing bras altogether. Everyone seems to still freak out a bit at the sight of lady nipples – and I did too, before I tentatively hopped on the bandwagon. Since then my bras are largely gathering dust. I go braless whenever my clothing is opaque and I have room to give no fucks about people’s opinions. Nothing feels freer, lighter, gentler, and more sensual than Boobs with Freedom. Braless is best!

Bronte Wilson

I was older than sixteen the first time I left my room braless. I grew up with step-siblings, half-siblings and a step-dad. I was too nervous and too unsure of myself – with my body and my boobs – to take my bra off, so except for when it was time to sleep, my bra was always firmly clasped.

They weren’t pretty and perky, like everything I had been shown. Even then, I had big boobs, with big nipples, that didn’t hold themselves up on their own accord. Nobody could see them unless held up firmly in a bra.

It was only in the middle of the night, when walking downstairs to the kitchen that I allowed myself to go without a bra – I had to hold them as I stepped down the stairs. One night, when I cupped my right boob, I felt a lump. A lump I knew didn’t belong there. I was petrified, and thought the worse; my dad had died of breast cancer.

I bounded into my parent’s bedroom, oversized boobs hitting my chin and showed my mother. We went to the  GP the very next day.

What followed was appointment after appointment, and me pulling my shirt over my head and flopping out my boobs time and time again. I had no choice but to expose them to my GP, the ultrasound technician and breast oncologist.

It wasn’t cancer, but it was growing fast.

After six months of having my tiny lump grow to the size of a mandarin I got it taken out. Inevitably, a team of doctors, once again, all examined my boobs and I was left with a tiny scar on my right nipple.

My boobs aren’t perfect, they don’t look little and perky in tiny bralettes, but they’ve been poked and prodded by so many strangers now that I’ve realised they are mine to show whoever and however I see fit.

It’s my choice to go braless, and I will damn well choose to do so.

They are mine. I will continue to love and feel them. All women should.

Nathanael Rizzo

The question of ‘when it is appropriate to go bra-less’ has never really been about social context or values, but rather, personal preference and comfort.

As a guy, I could do the male equivalent – free-balling – but I’m personally not comfortable with people seeing my junk as I ride around campus, grab a coffee from Grounds, or speak in a tutorial. But that’s just me.

If you feel more comfortable without a bra and are happy with how you look and feel, then you should rock the bra-less look whenever and wherever you want. No one should be able to tell you otherwise. We should be empowering people of every gender to dress how they want, when and where they want.

So for me the bra-less look is an absolute ‘yay’ in lectures and tutorial presentations, and ‘always’ at Mooseheads D-floor – so long as you’re comfortable with it.

Anonymous

I have always been jealous of girls who can go bra-less.

I see it as a luxury because in my experience, when you have big boobs, bra-less doesn’t seem like an option. My big boobs mean that I just don’t want to be seen without a bra. Although I am often complimented on my boobs, the bra is the thing that makes them look nice. In reality, without a bra, they are unsupported, they sit in different directions, and I inevitably become self-conscious.

So bra straps will forever ruin my nice tops and dresses, and strapless clothing will never be seen in my wardrobe, because in my case even strapless bras can’t always do the job. I wish I could go bra-less in public, and embrace the ability to do so like so many other women… but I just can’t.