A big thanks to Mandy Shunnarah for this guest post! Check out her blog Off the Beaten Shelf.
Just a few months ago I would have to wear a workout shirt with a built in bra and a sports bra just to go walking around the neighborhood because my breasts would ache at the slightest provocation of movement. Jumping without proper support was out of the question, unless I wanted to torture myself. Even walking too fast sans bra was a bad idea.
You know how I feel. You’re probably a lady who comes home from a long day at work and the first thing you do is rip your bra off. Between the hooks pressing into your spine, too small straps digging into your shoulders, and a thick wire holding up the girls, even the best of bras is uncomfortable.
But now my boobs don’t hurt when I run, and I don’t rip my bra off at the end of the day anymore. That’s because I stopped wearing one.
I know what you’re thinking: I could never do that! But keep reading.
Do you ever think about why we wear bras in the first place? It seems unreasonable for women to wear a contraption that forces our breasts into a harness. Especially when it’s a harness that hikes our tits up to our chins in a misguided attempt to defy gravity. Why do our breasts need to be put on a leash and shoved into unnatural angles anyway?
These are questions I started asking myself. (I know some ladies wear bras for their own personal comfort, for back problems, or for any number of reasons and that’s totally fine. As long as you’re wearing a bra for you and not because society tells you that you have to, I’m all for it. You do you. No judgement.)
I’d heard it said that going bra-less builds up your pectoral muscles so movement doesn’t hurt your boobs as much, so I figured it was worth a try.
After 6+ months of bra-lessness, I’m a believer. IT WORKS.
And if you’re thinking, but my boobs are too big to go bra-less, I’d encourage you to try it before you knock it. And it’s not like my boobs are nonexistent. I’ve got 36Cs. You don’t have to be a preteen or an A cup to ditch the tit sling.
These days I can walk as fast as I want, dash up and down the stairs, jump, and even run without my boobs hurting. My pec muscles are solid enough that a booby trap is no longer necessary.
If you want to try going bra-less and you’re nervous, here are some tips to help.
TRANSITION TO SPORTS BRAS OR BRALETTES
Sports bras will be a little thicker and offer more support, but opting for a sports bra without defined cups or a bralette, which has thinner fabric, no cups and no underwire is a good way to transition from a regular bra to bra-lessness. These options still don’t put as much pressure on your boobs to fit into a confined space that they don’t want to be in.
When I first started going bra-less, I was afraid of other people seeing my nipples. I assumed I could only wear tops with thick fabric so it wouldn’t be as noticeable if I got a little pointy. But I found that wearing patterns was much more effective than the thickness of the fabric. Patterns have visual texture, so they obscure the actual texture of what’s under the fabric. My go-to is a floral print because pointy nips are easily hidden by the multicolored print.
CARRY A CARDIGAN
If it gets a little nippy outside (or under your shirt), have a cardigan on hand. Not only will you be more comfortable temperature-wise, cardigans are a great way to hide any spontaneous pointiness if you’re feeling self-conscious.
At the end of the day, bras are uncomfortable, expensive, and downright unnecessary, so not wearing one will save you both money and time. Can’t find the right over the shoulder boulder holder for a particular shirt? Go without! Your girls will thank you for it.
For me, going bra-less is an act of body positivity. I’m choosing to do what’s best for me, my body, and my personal comfort level without regard to the societal messages that try to tell me I should wear something I hate just to appease people’s fragile sensitivities about what women should and should not do with their bodies.
I don’t care what people think of my going bra-less because there’s nothing wrong or shameful about breasts. After all, no one should be looking at my boobs, and if someone did look, it’s not like my nipples are going to hurt them.
And if someone acts offended because they can’t handle seeing the outline of a body part that literally everyone on the planet has, they can—well, grow a pair.
Mandy Shunnarah is a writer of personal essays and book news. Her work has been published in PANK Magazine, Entropy Magazine, The Missing Slate, Deep South Magazine, and Birmingham magazine, among others. She also writes a weekly book blog at offthebeatenshelf.com. When she’s not writing, she can most likely be found reading, and cuddling with her two adorable cats and her even cuter fiancé in Columbus, Ohio.