I’m sure that I’m not alone in this, but I’ll say it once more for the people in the back: I hate bras. Loathe them. Can’t stand them. Don’t know why I have to wear them (okay, I actually do, but if you asked preteen me about the purpose of a bra, I would tell you that it’s a practice bikini top. Oh, to be that naive again).
So when I got the chance to go braless for a week, and justify it (“It’s for an article!”), I was ecstatic, to the point of taking off my bra and throwing it across my bedroom the moment I got the go-ahead to write the article. I was thinking that it’d be an easy scoop with no consequences besides maybe dealing with a rogue nipple showing every so often. I took on this project with the confidence of an unemployed Jessica Day:
Well, I was partially right: at times, my only worry stemmed from my nipples making an appearance thanks to a too cold classroom. However, I was also very, very wrong.
Don’t get me wrong: going braless for a week was amazing in the ways that you’d expect. It was also profound and awkward in the ways that you wouldn’t.
At first, it was liberating, pure and simple. I wasn’t in pain from my bra cramping my style (literally) and it was just one less thing for me to worry about during my period this past week.
However, my nipples decided to replace any pain with embarrassment by popping up when they weren’t wanted, be it while hanging with friends or trying to talk to my professors. Winter is an unforgiving season, and in my liberated joy, I forgot about the cold until the first pop up. After that, I just resigned myself to wearing layers consisting of baggy sweatshirts and strategically placed scarves, cringing internally every time thereafter. (While yes, I know that there’s many a lady who’s rocked no bra and overcame the nipple issue with a healthy dose of confidence, suffice it to say that I’m not that lady. Unfortunately.)
Which brings me to another point: for the first few days, I was extremely self-conscious. I have never been bold enough to leave my dorm without a bra, let alone go to class, work and on a date without one, and yet here I was, venturing beyond my comfort zone, praying that my girls wouldn’t escape from my four layers of precautionary bundling. It felt as if everyone was suddenly looking, and my arms have gotten used to crossing themselves over my chest now.
I was more aware of my body this past week than I have probably ever been my entire life, and it was a blessing and a curse wrapped up in a nice little paradox.
I had to be real with myself about my body–I couldn’t hide behind any amount of padding, and oftentimes I found myself proud of my figure and yet wishing for the shape that my bras give my breasts. On day one, I was wishing that my right boob was the same size as the left, that they sat a bit higher than they do; one day five, I was marveling at the fact that these kickass body parts are mine and that they look just fine no matter what.
My body awareness also helped me realize an important fact: I’ve been looking at my breasts as only sexual objects up until now. Even though I heard their real purpose years ago from sex ed classes and female family members, it didn’t click with me that my breasts are for more than the wandering male eye or for the enjoyment of my significant others–they’re for any future child of mine so that I can keep being the biological wonder that is being female.
Another thing that this experiment did for me? It helped me own the fact that I am not a little girl anymore. All through high school, I was a late bloomer in the boob department, and I often went braless since no one noticed anyways. My boobs only grew after high school, and all I’ve done since then is cover them up and try to rein them in. This week, by forcing myself to forgo my bra, I realized that I have changed, I have grown up, and that I need to own the awesomeness that comes along with it.
I walked into this experiment expecting nothing more than giving my boobs a break, but I’m happy to be walking out of it with another discovery of myself under my belt.