I show my Nipples for Me…and for You too!
I haven’t worn a bra in over two years now, and for the most part, it feels fantastic.
My boobies feel more free than ever.
They are having a quality existence, and although the research was not officially published, Jean-Denis Rouillon conducted a 15-year study about the effects of wearing a bra, which unearthed much-needed controversy, especially with the companies that develop bras (all about the money).
However, I have had my own positive experience (on many levels) with not wearing a bra, which I will soon divulge.
Why do I not wear a bra, you might ask? Well, for many reasons, so here we go!
One day, I just did it; I ditched the bra.
There was no overthinking this decision, no complex reasons, or peer pressure from friends. Quite literally, one day I just decided: I’m done wearing a bra. My breasts are not large and do not cause me any discomfort when I exercise or let them hang free. In fact, my experience was quite the opposite.
Leading up to this point in time, I absolutely loathed sliding my arms through the skinny straps and snapping into the place the little metal buckles that uncomfortably dug into the middle of my back, only to feel the wires gouging into my rib cage, which created a sensation of claustrophobia, only to be relieved upon removal.
Over time, even my beloved sports bras started to cause me dread. Did I really have to subject this sensitive part of my body to daily restraint? Why was I continuing to engage in this “feminine ritual” day in and day out, especially when I recognized my displeasure?
Up until this inevitable decision (one of the more positive decisions I’ve made for my body), I wore a bra because “that was what women did,” and I was preoccupied with being objectified or having my nipples on display, as if it was my responsibility to deter wandering and curious eyes.
For years, I worked in customer service and in the public sphere, with the understanding that revealing nipples was “unprofessional.” So, what was I to do?
Conform, of course.
However, a sheep was only something I could embody for so long until a revelation took place from within, and out of this was born a shepherd, no longer willing to follow the pack, but instead lead—and lead by example was a motto I wanted to live by.
It was a few weeks after I was given four new, expensive bras from Victoria’s Secret that I decided no more, which led me into the next phase of my braless adventure.
I was dating this guy a fews years ago who might have had a lot of insecurities. In reflecting on myself, being someone who has endured years of self-deprecating thoughts and low self-worth, I held space, patience, and understanding for his process, but only up to a certain point.
A boundary had to be put in place, a line drawn in the invisible sand that was our playground, the foundation of our kinship, because, to be honest, it started to get in the way of our building new bonds. Sh*t started to get weird, and I was growing weary of the constant reassurance I had to provide—so much so that it regularly impeded on our ability to authentically connect.
I started to notice that his anxiety would increase as it related to my body (i.e. if I chose to wear “revealing clothing,” yoga pants when we went out, any clothes that might bring attention to my body or person, including not wearing a bra).
“Your nipples are showing,” he pointed out one day.
I replied, “Yea, so?”
“That makes me uncomfortable.”
I sat there for a moment before I inquired as to why, even though I already was aware of some of the reasons, based on his previously expressed woes about my doing yoga in public or posting videos of myself teaching yoga (welcome to the over-sexualization of yoga and bodies, and not just a woman’s body; all bodies).
“Why does that make you uncomfortable?” I asked
“Because people will probably stare at your nipples and that makes me uncomfortable. You’re my girlfriend.”
My girlfriend. Hearing that made me cringe; a sickness bubbled up in my stomach. My girlfriend, as if I was some piece of property he owned, as if I had to get permission on how to be in my own body.
There were so many red flags in this response it made my head spin, and now reflecting back on the situation, my current self is like, “Why didn’t you walk away then?” But to be fair and real, I was much more codependent back then than my current self, and I was trying to be understanding and willing to work through his issues (maybe that’s also codependent, but I would rather grow through something than run away from it).
I spent the next moments carefully articulating the roots of yoga, the many benefits of moving meditation, as well as explaining my personal mission as it related to healing disembodiment (I have been in recovery for bulimia and anorexia and struggled—still struggle—with self-love, especially with my physical form).
Each time I entered into this intentional dialogue about my perspective, I was met with “you just don’t understand how men think” and “you are invalidating my experience.” This was an uphill battle that I was constantly losing.
Back to where I was….the flags were a blinding shade of red, even though I ignored their presence, and I willingly spent time trying to work through the grievances around my newly revealed nipples. In addition, I boldly addressed the fact that I wasn’t his—he didn’t own me, but rather we made a choice to be together. So many flags, so many shades of colors, but that is for another time.
“So what if they stare at my nipples? Your nipples show. You do realize the function and purpose of nipples for women, right?”
I could see the annoyance on his face and offered some understanding about his discomfort; however, I was beginning to feel limited and closed off. Walls were starting to come up on both of our ends, and it started to feel more comfortable to barricade myself behind these walls.
The conversation ended there with no resolve; he was upset, and there I stood, happily (on the inside) braless, nipples erect and all.
This continued for a few months—my not wearing a bra and his noticing and commenting on my nipples making their daily debut. I could feel my own insecurities rising, as if I should be self-conscious about my nipples showing when it was cold out, but as I started to open up to more women about their experiences with wearing a bra, I discovered that both bra wearing and the issue of revealed nipples permeated many communities and social circles.
To close the loop on that anecdote, I ended the relationship not long after. The controlling nature around my body and the decisions I was making for my personal wellness was the line I drew in the sand of our proverbial sandbox, a place that we used to play nicely in for a few years.
There were many more layers to this decision, which are not relevant for this topic; however, the revolving sentiment has stuck with me since—and that is why I will never allow anyone to tell me how to live in my own God-given body.
Especially since my body, my sacred temple, which is not really mine (I’m merely borrowing her during my time here on Earth) told me one day, “Hey, you don’t need this thing around your chest to feel beautiful or comfortable, especially since it causes pain. Ditch it!”
So I did! And the benefits of being braless continues to reveal itself to me every day.
Since not wearing a bra, I have noticed the muscle tone in my chest and arms has improved greatly. My breasts have developed their own natural “lift”—this did take some time to come into fruition; however, it was totally worth the wait, as I feel more confident with my natural perk than I did previously. The tension created by the bra straps over time pulled my shoulders forward, degrading my posture, which led to upper back pain and pinched nerves. Now, those woes are a thing of the past.
In addition to my improved posture and muscular awareness, I no longer experience the cycles of pain and relief of boobs-in-bra and the sensation of “ahhhh” that most women feel when they remove the chest restraint after a long day. No longer do I have to rub my “under boob” to massage out the areas where the wire had been digging into my skin all day. No longer do I need to caress my nipples in order to wake them back up after being numbed out and chafed all day (now I just massage them to feel good!).
One of my favorite benefits of abandoning this long-standing feminine tradition is the time, energy, and money I spent on trying on and selecting the ideal, most comfortable bra. Bra shopping was never a favorite pastime of mine. In fact and in general, I do not enjoy shopping for clothes, let alone bras that are never truly universal in size; like blue jeans, every brand fits a little differently, which means trying on many different styles.
Gone are the days of having to consider if my black strapless would show through my white shirt, or if the hot pink number would draw too much attention, and if it did, would I be frowned upon or judged to be “slutty.” No longer am I burdened with trying on multiple sizes of various brands to find the “perfect fit” which, in my opinion, did not exist. Removing the bra and being braless was the most comfortable I’d ever felt. There’s truly no going back.
There came a point where being in my body transformed. Rather than going with the flow of the conventional norm, which felt inauthentic and unnatural, I became fully conscious and intentional with my fleshy Earth suit.
I felt (and feel) empowered, active, and co-creative, rather than a passive bystander with zero choice. Making this seemingly insignificant choice sent me on a new trajectory with my being-ness, a newfound appreciation for this body I call mine, this vessel for my soul, one that I create a sacred space to honor and cherish every day. No shame, no hiding, no oversexualization (unless I so desire), no fear—just love, compassion, and grace.
To conclude and to emphasize, this is my experience with “the bra.” I recognize that there are many, many other women who would care to disagree and hold varying and oppositional opinions about this topic in general.
Just the other day, I connected with a good friend and listened intently as she described the comfort and pleasure her sports bra provided. In fact, I found myself almost envious of how snug and cozy her boobs felt—a feeling she described as being “held and protected.”
This is definitely something I could relate to and had previously felt at one point with my bras. However, over time, the tides shifted and my relationship with this accessory was put on hold, for now. And I’m okay with it and fully honor and respect each woman’s unique journey with her bra and her body!
I celebrate personal choice over anything. You do you—one of the most important sentiments that my past partner ironically used to say to me all the time. Funny how when I did decide to “do me” (i.e. not wear a bra), it ruffled some feathers.