I Went Bra-Free 3 Years Ago & Here’s Why My Cupcakes are Sweeter Than Ever.

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I am not a large woman, only 5’4″ and 110 pounds with 34 C cups, so proportionally you could say I have two medium double shot lattes.

Relephant bonus: “No, this is the best way to advertise a sports bra.” (omg you can select your boob size)

Yes, I was in pain for my first few months without a bra.

That’s the first thing almost every woman asks; “Doesn’t it hurt?” followed by, “Maybe you can live without a bra, but my tig ol’ bitties hurt without support.”

There are extenuating circumstances, of course. But unless you have a major weight, hypothyroid or other medical issue, it’s way more likely that you just have wimpy pecs, bra.

No judgments though. Most women start wearing support around 10-12 years old so our pectoral muscles are never given a chance to properly develop.

Doctors conducting this five year study of large breasted women found bras actually contribute to back pain by shifting the weight to the shoulders. After this study, apparently about 80 percent of participants decided to stop wearing bras since it rendered them symptom-free.

I mean sure, keep a sports bra around for that upcoming jump rope championship and a few frilly pretties for playtime, but women have managed to thrive without this “necessary” device for most of human history.

That said, if you’re gonna fly free, you might not want to go cold turkey.

It will be easier if you wean those puppies off the bra.

I started by not wearing mine on weekends and began lightweight extension weight training. It’s tough, but helps you target specific muscle groups (like the pecs). (Tip: The weights I had were too heavy for resistance work, but I found soup cans to be the perfect alternative that I can control to the ounce.)

Large health institutions mostly reject the idea that bras affect women’s health, citing a lack of data, while admitting few have ever tried to gather said data.

Of 12 research studies on the subject of bras and how they impact women’s health, all but one study present data that points to a correlation between bra use and a myriad of problems, including: increased back and breast pain, sagging, increased breast temperature and decreased hormonal circulation.

I have yet to find any data that has found bras to be necessary or physiologically beneficial. Even without extensive data, western doctors know that circulation of the primary lymphatics is highly dependent upon movement.

Think about it: chewing and swallowing help purge the lymph nodes in the neck, walking helps circulate your inguinal and pelvic lymphs and the pumping of arms and bouncing of breasts helps to purge the axillary and mammary lymph nodes—which are responsible for a whopping 80% of your body’s lymphatic flow.

Have your feet and ankles ever swollen on an airplane? That is your body trying to regulate suddenly erratic lymphatic circulation.

As well as preventing the movement of the breasts, wearing a bra—especially an underwire—appears to pinch the delicate lymph vessels, further hindering lymphatic flow.

So, with known risks and no documented benefits, why are we doing this?

I know, I know, what about the ladies in National Geographic? Their chitty chitty bang bangs are way saggier than Angelina Jolie’s!

The thing is, all balloons deflate eventually—you just don’t see American moms running errands topless.
In fact, preliminary findings of an ongoing 15 year study conducted by Jean Denis Rouillion at The University of Franche-Comte have found that breasts are more likely to end up sagging when supported by a bra.

So what about nipples? Everyone knows you can’t be walking around with sexy nipples showing unless you’re either a “slut” or flat-chested.

This is it.

Far beyond the initial physical pain, the social dynamics of not wearing a bra have tested my conviction and body confidence time and again.

Grown men openly stare, giggle and make creepy comments.

Women give ponderous, disapproving looks.

The general consensus is that my breasts are asking for it.

Eventually I bought a few bolero vests and a rainbow of pashminas so I’d feel less on display.

Still, for me, the benefits of bralessness have far outweighed the drawbacks.

Since I’ve developed my pecs a bit, my constant upper back and shoulder pain has disappeared. Now that my hormones are circulating properly my boobs have stopped itching and hurting during workouts. I’m less sore when my moon comes and my cleavage is noticeably more firm.

Most of all, I’m actively engaged with my good health and self-love rather than some outdated social standard.

With this information at heart I’d like to ask you take a look at the research and question the notion that your body needs some device to give you support.

You are strong all on your own.



Detox, plastics, gut health & what it all of it has to do with preventing cancer:



[1] Ryan, EL, Clin J Pain 2000 Dec;16(4):298-303, “Pectoral girdle myalgia in women: a 5-year study in a clinical setting.”

[2] September 2014 Lu Chen, Kathleen E. Malone, and Christopher I. Li. Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk: A Population-Based Case–Control Study. DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-140414

[3] 2000 Simon Cawthorne, M.D. surgeon at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, England and Prof. Robert Mansel, M.D., Surgery Dept. Head, University of Wales Medical School, Cardif, Wales.

[4] “Breast Form Changes Resulting From A Certain Brassiere” Journal of Hum. Ergol.(Tokyo) 1990 Jun; 19(1):53-62. Ashizawa K, Sugane A, Gunji T Institute of Human Living Sciences, Otsuma Women’s University, Tokyo, Japan

[5] Preliminary findings from Jean Denis Rouillion at The University of Franche-Comte on air at The  University of Franche-Comte student radio.

[6] The Lancet, November 4, 1978, P. 1001 Dr. John M. Douglass, Department of Internal Medicine, S. Calif. Permanente Med. Center Los Angeles, California.

[7] Hsieh, C.C. and D. Trichopoulos, D. Eur. J. Cancer 27:131-5, 1991 “Breast size, handedness and breast cancer risk”

[8] Dressed to Kill, 1995, Sydney Ross Singer, Soma Grismaijer

[9] Chronobiol Int 2000 Nov;17(6):783-93. “The effects of skin pressure by clothing on circadian rhythms of core temperature and salivary melatonin.” Lee YA, Hyun KJ, Tokura H, Department of Environmental Health, Nara Women’s University, Japan.

[10] Singer and Grismaijer 2000 Fiji followup study, published in Get It Off! ISCD Press, 2000

[11] Zhang AQ, Xia JH, Wang Q, Li WP, Xu J, Chen ZY, Yang JM (2009). [Risk factors of breast cancer in women in Guangdong and the countermeasures]. Nan Fang Yi Ke Da Xue Xue Bao. 2009 Jul;29(7):1451-3

[12] Adil Aljarrah, WR Miller Erratum: Trends in the distribution of breast cancer over time in the southeast of Scotland ecancermedicalscience (Impact Factor: 1.2). 05/2014; 8(1):427. DOI: 10.3332/ecancer.2014.427

[13] Basic Human Anatomy originally published in 1983 by W.B. Saunders Copyright of Professor O’Rahilly.



Big-Breasted Yogi—Short Stories From the Front Line.

Women, it’s Time to go Braless


Author: Andie Olive

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: gareth1953 at Flickr 

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anonymous Jan 19, 2016 2:56pm

You mentioned you shouldn't go braless if you are hypothyroid, why?

anonymous Jan 19, 2016 2:39am

I agree totally and as soon as I get home from work the bra comes off! However even though I wear a wire free bra, I cannot imagine not wearing one to work because I have nipples that stick out at least 1cm. It’s easy to say just forget what people say but I’m happy to live without the sexist remarks and full on staring I’ve received when I go bra free. The best times are when I can wear a top that hides the nipples more than anything. I do like my own body, I just don’t like being a spectacle for men!

anonymous Dec 23, 2015 9:07am

read my book I wrote based on 10 years of research on bras: http://www.lulu.com/content/11755494

anonymous Dec 9, 2015 3:56pm

makes sense but from what source did you get the statement, "the pumping of arms and bouncing of breasts helps to purge the axillary and mammary lymph nodes—which are responsible for a whopping 80% of your body’s lymphatic flow." please?

    anonymous Dec 11, 2015 2:34pm

    I looked up the lymph flow and the mechanisms which drive it in Basic Human Anatomy, reference 13.

anonymous Dec 7, 2015 10:58pm

Unfortunately, mine are so droopy, and hang so low, that I’ve actually hurt myself in my daily life. Pinched my nipple closing a drawer on more than one occasion. Yup – that happened. It’s just not safe or comfortable in a lot of circumstances. I’m more comfortable physically without a bra, but feel much less comfortable mentally because I do worry some about them getting hurt. I do go about the house most of the time bra-less, but unfortunately, when I’m trying to wear clothes, my girls are hanging out somewhere around my waist, and that just doesn’t work in clothes. Also, I find that if I’m very active, like vacuuming or running up and down the stairs, I end up with them flapping and that hurts. I’ve had enough issues in the past few years that I’ve actually considered surgery just to put them back where they belong. I envy a woman that can get away without a bra safely and comfortably!

anonymous Dec 5, 2015 2:39am

I love this article so much. I started going bra free since I was 21 and haven't looked back since. I do have some of those stretchy material bras though for reasons you mentioned, sometimes you just have to cover up. Mostly it's because I have a shirts and dresses you can't wear without bra.

But seriously these days when I shop i always look at clothes all like can I wear this without a bra. So I've been able to get a nice dress collection of that type going. Shirts are definitely harder though.

Also less itching, less heat rashes, les constriction. It's just soooo nice to just not wear a bra. I am a a/b cup so for me a bra is really really not needed for any reason besides covering up. Which is just ugh, can we just get over breasts being a sexualised organ. But I hope more and more women do it, it's just so damn comfortable.

anonymous Dec 3, 2015 8:40am

Could you post some examples of exercises you did for "extension weight training"? Great article!

    anonymous Dec 6, 2015 11:53am

    I really like Jennifer Kries New Method Pilates: Precision Toning and Sculpting
    The upper body exercises are the second 'sculpting' section.
    Thanks for reading & commenting!

anonymous Dec 2, 2015 6:23pm

love it!!! thanks!! <3

anonymous Dec 2, 2015 1:35pm

I have double D’s on a small body frame. Even when I was a 100 pound 14 year old and considered “underweight” my breasts were full D cups. I was actually kicked out of gym class at that age because I refused to wear a bra. I have always experienced back, neck and shoulder pain when I am actually wearing a bra. No matter if it’s been professionally fitted, altered for size and fit, or how expensive/cheap the bra is. Going without a bra in public is generally not an option for breasts this size, nor is it acceptable dress code at my work. The first thing I do when I get home for the evening is take off my bra for relief. I never understood how women hurt when not wearing a bra, but I suppose if a woman has been conditioned to wear one from the time she was very young, she may not have developed the strength or muscle tone for even small breasts. Thank you for the enlightenment!

anonymous Dec 2, 2015 8:35am

This article is amazing. THANK YOU for sharing!

anonymous Dec 2, 2015 7:18am

I’d like to be able to go braless full-time, but my job requires certain dress standards. When I try wearing my dressier office clothes without a bra, it’s noticeable and doesn’t look good. Of course, I’m sporting a couple D cups on a small frame, so it becomes obvious. Plus one hangs lower than the other without a bra. I’m sure if I developed my muscle structure a bit that problem would go away, but the last thing I want is my co-workers to stare at my chest because my uneven nipples look like they’re about to cut through my top. For the sake of professionalism, I don’t go to work without a bra. Since I practically live at work, I have to wear one almost every time I leave the house. But trust me, that thing comes off as soon as I get home. I do have a few casual tops that I can get away with bra-free, and when I’m feeling daring I do so. I honestly do hope the bra-free thing starts to catch on and designers start making women’s clothes to look good with or without a bra. The corset went out of fashion eventually, maybe bras will too someday.

anonymous Dec 1, 2015 8:27pm

I am a small B cup so I can sometimes get away with going bra less and to be honest, they aren't heavy enough to elicit back back. I guess everything has a pro and con! I'm just gonna go with the fact of accepting me for who I am. Sometimes I do wish I had bigger boobs, sometimes I am glad for the pros that come with having smaller boobs. One thing is for certain though – there is always someone out there who will prefer them exactly how they are on you, right now! =D

anonymous Dec 1, 2015 8:01am

i had a stroke 6 yrs ago and i can’t find a bra that fits, so i go braless and if they don;t like it tough titties.

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Andie Olive

Andie Olive is the Designer behind Biodidactic Designs.

She loves to understand and explain the inner workings of the world. Whether studying the chemistry behind indigenous medicines or casting the divine geometry that bees employ in glass.

After 12 years in Brooklyn she is now livin’ la pura vida in a cloud forest on a Guatemalan super volcano!

Find out more at her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.