Sexplanations: To Bra or Not to Bra?

I wish someone had told me when I was young that I didn’t need to wear a bra. I remember my friends’ mom suggesting to my mom that the four of us go bra shopping together at Sears. I was horrified. I didn’t want to wear a bra. I didn’t need to wear a bra! The bra I ended up getting was beige and ugly. It didn’t even have a proper size. It was a “training bra.” What the hell is a training bra? Training for what? I was so angry.

My new year suggestion to those of you who wear a bra is this: wear one if you are comfortable wearing a bra and have made a conscious decision to do so. Do not wear a bra if you have felt pressured into doing so, whether by society, friends or family. If you have never thought about it before, stop and think: do I actually want to wear a bra?

Bras are not mandatory or necessary. Breasts may bounce and swing and jiggle, but that’s what breasts do. If this bouncing and swinging and jiggling is uncomfortable for you, either mentally or physically, by all means wear a bra. Going without, however, sometimes just takes a little getting used to.

I often hear, “the second I get in the door the bra comes off!” Bras are not comfortable. They leave chaffed skin, red marks, dents in shoulders, bruises from underwire poking out. This is often because bras are not fitting properly. Most people never get a proper bra fitting and sizes change bra to bra and over time. Breasts grow and shrink when people lose weight, gain weight, get pregnant, breast feed or take any kind of hormone, including birth control. It is extremely difficult to always be in the proper bra size.

Most importantly, bras disallow movement, prevent deep breathing and can hurt your lymphatic system. Breasts gain nothing from defying gravity. Many people think that if they push their breasts up to their chin in a restrictive bra they will magically stay there once the bra is off. They will not.

The truth is, if you avoid wearing a bra when your breasts are developing, the outcome is perkier breasts. The breasts will naturally produce more collagen, which is found in the skin and connective tissue, to hold up the breasts. If your breasts are constantly in bras, less collagen will be produced, meaning less perk.

Not that perky breasts are the be-all and end-all. Society has trained us to value this type of breast over others, which is unfortunate. We tend to forget that breasts have a purpose. A very important purpose: they feed babies. But instead of valuing this, we have sexualized breasts and made it controversial for a parent to feed their child in public. Let’s resolve this year to respect the breast for its purpose and not what it looks like.