Let me start straight up by saying that this is not one of those strongly opinionated articles that wish to tell you what to do. It’s not somebody-positivity, anti-bra, pro-feminist movement (though of course, these movements are great.) My point is – I’m really just curious to know where TLR readers stand on the Bra vs no. Bra debate. I remember when I was a teenager constantly surrounded by aunties. I would hear things like: push your bra strap in, don’t you know you are a lady? Or, why is the line of your bra showing through your blouse. Like many other young Nigerian girls, the female underwear was this taboo topic, used only to broach the issues around decency and proper home training. And then, there was the sheer shock factor of not wearing bra. Like, why would you even ever? How could you think of going out without putting everything firmly in place? Are you merely trying to get the attention of boys?
Imagine the surprise to now get older and realize that, wait o, I don’t have to always wear this bra. Or, having the agency to shop for clothes that are designed to be bra-less. The other day, I was reading a comment on why women did not need to wear bras, how the WFH that developed from Covid 19 has shown the freedom and flexibility of pulling on a plain cotton shirt over your chest. And the truth is, many of us women can relate. It’s not like we want to tie wrappers in that traditional way of our grandmothers, but at least, we want to walk around the house free, without feeling some iron string pressing against our rib cage. But the truth is, no matter how much we talk about the freedom that comes from ditching the bra, even if it’s just occasionally, many women will still have mixed feelings about it, or at least a sense of guilt, that you are doing something wrong, and indecent.
The reason for this is simple: women do not just have breasts. Women’s body parts hardly only belong to them. Young girls are socialized into the relationship they have with their breasts. The moment the first mound of flesh swells when she is 10 or 11 or 12, her mother and aunty begin to trade whispers. And who can blame them? After all, we live in a world where breasts are perceived as objects of sexualization. There’s also the fact that the woman’s breast is seen as a weapon used against men. Till forever, a little cleavage will always be a call for sexual attention, or a deliberate attempt to tease objects of her sexual interest. I’m not saying that women don’t sexualize their bodies, but really, sometimes a low-cut dress is simply that: a low-cut dress. Don’t forget the conversations that young girls are forced to grow in—the ideas that her breasts are something to be covered, to be hid, to be sheltered from the prying gaze of men, of others. As a matter of fact, the larger the breasts, the more the concern, because the hyper-sexualization of female bodies insists that women’s breasts should be round and perky; that the skin should be taut and tight, smooth like cream. In fact, many women reading this would find this description rather inappropriate. And so, the cycle continues: on and on and on, pulling in the breast-feeding mother told that it is inappropriate to feed her child in public. Or the older woman with loose skin, told that her sexuality has disappeared with the luster of her skin.
So, you see, the next time you consider pulling off your bra for an entire week, these are some of the questions that might dance around your head: will I make it worse? Is this improper? Is there any chance of getting reprimanded for this? #Sigh.
Tell us, do you have any personal experience or misgivings about ditching your bras?