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I Ditched My Bra for 6 Months And the World Didn't End

Photograph by Twenty20

I've never been someone who particularly likes clothes. In fact, I've been known to make even steady boyfriends uncomfortable with my nudity, and my old roommate used to joke that the neighborhood would line up outside our home at certain times every day to see if they could catch a glimpse of me walking naked past windows.

I used to have a thing with taking my clothes off when I was drinking. I'm told I once ran up and down a beach in my birthday suit, shouting, "I'm a mermaid" at the top of my lungs. And I know a neighbor once found me stark naked on my front porch with nothing but my purse in sight.

It's possible I used to have a drinking problem.

But drunk or sober, I've always known one thing for sure: if I could ever lose just one piece of clothing, it would always be my bra.

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You see, my penchant for nudity has far more to do with my dislike of anything pulling against my skin than it does with any misconceptions that I may be a goddess in the buff. It's not about being naked; it's about being comfortable.

And bras are anything but.

Like most people, though, I spent nearly two decades putting one on nearly every day. This was an honor back when I was one of the first amongst my friends to get boobs. It became less so as the years went by. And like so many women before me, I began to relish that moment when I could come home and shed that contraption holding my naughty bits in place.

They're just nipples. Surely everyone knows I have them. So why be embarrassed just because they're standing at attention?

At some point in the last year, though, I started to ask myself why. Why was I wearing this uncomfortable device day after day? Why was I going to fittings and spending exorbitant amounts of money on bras that never actually performed as comfortably as I had been promised? Why was I trying so hard to keep my breasts perfectly in place, even at the expense of my own contentment?

The only answer I could come up with was, because society tells me to.

And then it hit me. Why do I care what society thinks? Especially when it comes to my breasts.

So on some random day last fall, when I was reaching for my bra before completing my ensemble, I stopped. And I thought to myself, "What would happen if I skipped it today?"

Now, like most women, I had been guilty of going out in public without a bra in the past—but only on occasions where I was also sporting a hoodie and could reasonably assume most people couldn't tell what was going on underneath.

On this day, though? I was planning on wearing a form-fitting sweater, the kind I would normally have assumed was probably deserving of a bra. Instead, I found myself reaching for a bra-shelf tank top. They're the best of both worlds, if you ask me; they're somewhat supportive but nowhere near as uncomfortable.

I went out into the world that day assuming I would probably feel self-conscious at some point, but I never did. Cars didn't stop on the street, passersby didn't gawk at my audacity, and in reality, it seemed as though no one even noticed at all.

Now, before you say, "Well, I could never do that! My breasts are too big!" let me just clue you into my cup size: 34DD. By all standards, my breasts are large. Not huge, but big … big enough to command containment. And yet nothing adverse happened when they went uncontained.

To be fair, I have never been pregnant or breastfed. So my boobs are still relatively where they were 10 years ago. And I won't apologize for that—I consider it one of the rare perks (get it … perks!) of infertility. I also understand that for some women, gravity may make wearing a bra more imperative.

For what it's worth, I would have signed on the dotted line for sagging and deflation in a heartbeat if it had meant being able to carry my daughter in pregnancy. But that wasn't in the cards for me. And perhaps the happy side effect is that now, I can totally get away with going braless.

We tell ourselves that society dictates our breasts be confined and contained, but maybe it's more our own insecurities making up those rules.

So that was what I did. I started joking with friends that I was making the "brave" decision to give up on bras. And I stuck with it. Over the last six months, I've only worn a bra a handful of times—mostly on occasions where I was wearing a dress that demanded a bra in the name of decency.

Only once in all that time have I found myself slightly uncomfortable without that extra piece of equipment. It was a day about a month ago when my white tank top and sweater turned out to not be enough coverage to contain my nipples, which were reacting to the cold outside. For a moment, I felt embarrassed, crossing my arms over my chest and cursing my hippy no-bra mentality.

But then again I thought to myself, why? They're just nipples. Surely everyone knows I have them. So why be embarrassed just because they're standing at attention?

Who made those rules up? And why?

I'll admit to rejoicing a little at the news that science has started to recognize the benefits of going braless—it turns out that if sagging is a concern of yours, ditching your bra sooner might actually have helped.

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For my part, I'm still strapping in for athletic pursuits (lest I get a black eye while going out for a run) but otherwise … I'm feeling more and more comfortable in my braless state every day. Perhaps mostly because no one else seems to care.

We tell ourselves that society dictates our breasts be confined and contained, but maybe it's more our own insecurities making up those rules. Maybe you don't actually need a Victoria's fitting after all—not when a cami with a built in shelf bra can totally do the trick, and for far less discomfort in the process.

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