Why I Don’t Wear a Bra

messy thoughts

Emma is the editor & creator (and occasionally writer) for The Messy Heads. She enjoys yellow curry, print media, and singing to herself.

I weirdly remember being 13, facing the flag for the pledge of allegiance, placing my hand over my heart, consumed with the thought that I could still feel my ribs through my shirt. Wondering- when they heck are my boobs going to come in. It seemed that everyone was buying their first bras and moving on up with their life. Middle school popularity was centered around who’s body started to bend and curve first. Well, I was over here wearing a meager training bra from target well into eighth grade. I folded my arms or tucked my binder close into my chest while walking through the halls, it seemed like I was the only one in the whole school without tits. I’m laughing as I write this- because of how painfully true it is. How worried I was about developing. It was a daily thought, and probably included in every other diary entry alongside doodles of my first name + my crushes last name.

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I remember asking for my first push up bra. I’m not exaggerating when I say I had NOTHING to fill it with. But I wanted to have two cute little lumps under my tight Aeropostale tees (yup I’m cringing right with you now). I remember getting eyebrows raised when I went to school and over to friends houses; overnight gaining two trophies of womanhood. What did breasts mean to me at the time? I didn’t think too much into it besides the fact that I WANTED them. Being liked by boys perhaps, being a cool kid, or just not being a kid anymore. The desperation to grow up quicker. To sexualize myself before my time and be a woman, worthy of attention.

High school hit around the same time as the Wonderbra. You know- that thing from Victoria’s secret that painfully pushes your tits together and up, and adds two cup sizes? At this point I maybe had double A’s, that I could now convert to C’s. Because obviously, bigger boobs meant you were hotter. My body had never felt less like mine. It felt like I was being looked up and down, judged, and scrutinized. I overheard a few boys joking that the Wonderbra got it’s name because after you take it off you wonder where the tits are. So now on top of the fear of not having big enough boobs, I was most definitely never ever going to let anybody see me without a shirt on. They would know that I was a fraud. I would be less liked in my true form.

The women I wanted to imitate- the 10 foot tall posters of Victorias secret models, the 22 year old actresses playing 15 year olds in TV shows, the popular girls at school- were only really desirable to me because they were desirable in the eyes of men. A bra never made ME feel confident, if anything I felt inadequate and uncomfortable. Without even being fully aware of it, I was altering my body for the male gaze.

Coming home from a long day and discarding my bra on the carpet, I was left with a body marked with creases, aches, and pains. Wires poking into my flesh red lines perpendicular to my spine.

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Free People came into fashion, and I would cruise the store. I could afford the little lace bras but little else. I tried one on and it had the opposite effect of the push up bra. It flattened me out, tucking everything in and together instead of up and out. Summer came around and they started styling the mannequins with sheer white tank tops with lace bras peeking out underneath. So I went for it. My silhouette that summer had changed into a more natural one, closer to how my body actually looked. It took some getting used to, but it left less lines stitched across my skin. It was more comfortable, and I started to get more comfortable with my physical form.

Push up bras are trendy in today’s society because that silhouette is most accepted in media. A female form of round, perky breasts, small waists, and even hips. Looking back through the decades, the ideal female form has changed drastically. In the 50s it was cone-like breasts, bigger hips, and soft waists. In baroque or rococo eras women’s bodies were altered with corsets for impossibly tiny waists and breasts almost fully pushed up out of blouses. There is this weird underlying theme of not accepting women as their natural form- and transforming them into sexual objects in order to dehumanize them. Once you recognize these patterns of what is accepted of the female form are ever changing, you can focus on the only opinion of your body that matters: your own. That’s why now I don’t wear a bra anymore. I don’t need one to be honest. Of course, it could be different for you as we have different bodies.

The bottom line is accepting your body for what it is and not what it isn’t.

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You don’t need to change and conform or alter your physical state. If you do feel the need to- just sit back and ask yourself why. Why do certain alterations to your body make you feel more valued? Is it through the male gaze, or is it through your own?

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28 Comments

  1. Natalie says

    best post by far, your writing proved exactly what I believe in!! Thank u

  2. this is exactly what pre-teens and adolescents all around the world need to hear, their quiet minds have finally been spoken…. amazing emma <3

    bymichaelachristine.com

  3. Anonymous says

    Love this! I remember growing up wishing I had bigger boobs and wearing uncomfortable bras. I was surrounded by other girls in the same shoes who even stuffed their bras, making it seem even more normal to be desperate for larger boobs. As of recently I have really accepted my very small chest and am totally ok with it. I love just wearing a cute bralette with zero padding. It’s comfy and cute has let me accept my real body!

  4. emily says

    This was/is exactly the experience I’ve had growing up- thank you so much for sharing. I only wish I could’ve read this a few years ago!

  5. I used to buy push up bras but there was nothing to push up. I used to complain all the time about how small my boobs were. I used to hate going out just because I knew some guys would make comments about my small cleavage… But now months later I am rocking my bralettes, I love them and I’ve come to accept that we’re all just different and with that there is also difference between our bodies and that is MORE than OKAY. Love ur bodies gals!! Let’s be the one rare generation on women who knew their worth wasn’t based on male’s acceptance. Let’s just embrace each other and ofocurse, ourselves.

    • Anonymous says

      It would be really interesting to hear your opinions on freedom of thought

  6. I really enjoyed this post. In my early teens I really suffered with not thinking my breasts were big enough even though I was well ahead of all my peers in development. I was constantly bombarded with images that would convey that I needed to have the perfect amount of breast for men to enjoy. Now I’m an average sized breasted lady who no longer wears a bra and I couldn’t be more pleased with how my breasts are. Thank you for helping put thoughts into words and sharing this message with other girls who may need some guidance xxx

  7. Anonymous says

    I love this article although speaking from someone who has large breasts I feel more uncomfortable not wearing a bra than I would with one, seeing as my boobs are not very perky and large. but a very well written article I’ve very much started to appreciate my body more that’s for sure!!

  8. I so wish I had read this back in middle/high school! All so true, thank you for sharing your amazing wisdom with so many girls <3

    earthyogiblog.wordpress.com

  9. Anonymous says

    I loved this! I can remember being 15 and not having boobs (I was a late bloomer) and being jealous of my younger sister because she had bigger boobs than I. Puberty hit a year later and I now have crazy large breasts (like try G on a small body) and I try to accept them as they are, but I’d rather have smaller boobs like I did when I first hit puberty. Thanks for writing and expressing how important it is to just love yourself! I’m still working on it, but I know I’ll get there in time.

  10. Izzie Auty-Dawe says

    Bloody love this post Emma! So important to embrace your body no matter what it looks like! You’re such a inspo for many (including me!!) totally believe in this post-thankU chick

  11. I love how you have written this post and I wish I could relate. I personally love wearing a bra. It’s not that I need people to look at my breast, but I just find it comfortable. I don’t have massive boobs, but I appreciate the support a bra gives. And I don’t take it off until right before I go to bed. I personally don’t see why people dislike wearing bras, but -since most people do dislike that- I suppose I must be an exception.

  12. Emma says

    so much truth!!! I felt the same going through middle school and high school. I only ever wore bralettes though but I was always thinking about buying push up bras. now I don’t feel the need to wear a bra anymore and I’m happy about it! THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOVELY WORDS

  13. I love this! I have really small boobs and sometimes it’s hard because some dresses or shirts look funny on me but then again some dresses and shirts would look funny on me if I had huge boobs! I’ve learnt to accept my small boobs and I even make jokes about them myself! It’s wierd, almost as if me making fun of them allows me to accept them more, in the end I’m not fussed over my small boobs. 🙂

  14. Alex Andra says

    I love how you wrote this- from taking us through your relatable experience, to reflecting on it, to explaining what changed inside of you, to the overall idea of women being sexualized and uncomfortable in their own skin, and then finally leaving me with a final question to ask myself. Very inspiring and really hits home for me. The way you write really uses your voice and clearly demonstrates to the reader what you are trying to say; this piece also inspires me as a writer, not just a teenaged girl. -Alex

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  15. Amelia says

    Whenever I’m out with my friends or with a boy that I like, I always find myself saying how much I hate my small boobs because I know that the people I’m with judge me for them. Now I see that really I should say “fuck you” to what everyone thinks about my body and really focus on what I have to say about the way I look. Thank you for writing this article.

  16. this post is incredibly inspiring…as always! you never fail to remind me to love my body no matter what the “ideal body shape” is. after all…boobs are just lumps of fat on our chests lol xX -b

  17. zoe says

    yes! i feel like people forget that a bra is supposed to support your boobs (if necessary) but for some reason the media has turned it into making bras about size, when it’s really there to keep you comfortable! and if you need a push up to feel good about yourself, then fine, but i know so many people who feel so uncomfortable with there bodies, only to put on a push up bra and feel even worse when they take it off and it’s so saddening because society has made bras (a wonderful thing) into an awful standard

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