By Rebekah Swank
I’m a busty woman. I wear a size 36 DD bra. I started wearing underwire bras in elementary school and my back and shoulders often ache, which forces me to hunch over like Quasimodo. I have to wear a bra if I’m doing any kind of physical activity, otherwise the skin on my chest is painfully pulled and stretched. However, it’s a well-known fact that women love taking off their bras after a long day and I am no exception. Coming home after work or school and unfastening the clips of a bra—removing the constraints that have been cutting into your flesh for hours—is a liberating sensation.
About a year ago I forgot to put on a bra before a class. It simply slipped my mind. I realized as soon as I boarded the bus. It was awkward at first. With every swift movement and gentle jiggle I became increasingly concerned with who was noticing my less-than-perky chest. I considered making a run for it back home to strap the wild things down. Was anyone looking? Could anyone actually tell? Was it obvious? During the hour and fifteen minutes I was listening to the lecture, my apprehension gradually subsided. I no longer needed to fidget with my straps, or adjust the wire poking my side. I breathed freely and deeply. I went braless nearly every day for the remainder of the semester.
At times when I had to run to catch the bus or quickly hop down stairs I felt a little uncomfortable. I occasionally wondered if the jabroni sitting next to me could tell, and if he could, was he thinking about it? My under-boob sweat definitely increased. However, I felt free and womanly and confident. I’d had enough of the restrictions bras put on my body for a while.
I mentioned my new habit to my sister (who has a very similar body type to mine). “Ew, that’s too hippie for me,” she said. It was an unintentionally blunt comment that instantly became lodged in my brain. I hid my breasts underneath large sweatshirts; to be completely honest, I still do that most of the time when I choose to go without a bra. Something about the natural hanging of my breasts was unsettling. I wanted to bury them. They weren’t perky when I didn’t wear a bra, and that deterred me from wearing anything that would make it too obvious. I was afraid of being the hippie my sister (and so many others) judged, instead of accepting the womanly figure I wanted so badly to embrace.
I recently had a brief conversation with another staffer at a Style on the Hill meeting. We discussed our agony when we have to go somewhere that requires a more supported bust. We talked about how once you go braless, it’s hard to go back. She said, “you just have to get over what everyone else thinks about it and you’re totally fine.” I love not wearing a bra, so the scrutiny from others has become easier to ignore. As someone who has quarreled with body image and objectification because of my DDs, it’s challenging to embrace them without a push-up. When I don’t wear a bra, I love that I don’t feel constrained. I love that in some ways, I feel more beautiful with low-hangers. I love that I can own up to not wearing bra. I love letting my skin breathe. I love foregoing one item of clothing. I love the powerful feeling. I love being a woman, and I love being free of my bra.