Bras have been a part of society and women’s lives since the beginning of time. They have always been seen and used to help women contain their breasts and often conceal them from the world. There was a time when women wouldn’t wear bras and it was seen as beautiful, but now, women who don’t wear bras are seen as objects and are sexualized for going against social norms, despite it being their body and their choice.
Women adopted the idea of covering their breasts in ancient times as a fashion statement and at that point in time, wearing a bra wasn’t a social requirement for women. This idea continued into the middle ages when women would use cloth binding to make their breasts look smaller and they then soon found the binding supported them while wearing dresses.
The idea of women’s breasts being bound continued to grow into the Victorian era when women began to wear corsets to show cleavage and create the ideal figure, despite the negative health impacts. The first modern bra was created in 1869 by Herminie Cadolle which was called a two-piece corset. This was just the tip of the iceberg, the invention of the first modern bra eventually led to the creation of backless bras, sports bras, etc., according to Postoast and The Exploress.
The long history of the bra has led to the idea today that women cannot be out in society without wearing one. Women for a long time have accepted this idea because they were ousted from society until recently, but times are changing and women are tired of not being able to not wear bras only because men say it is wrong.
Women chose to censor themselves for a long time—that time is up. Society tells women they must censor themselves, yet a woman’s body is her own, not anyone else’s. Regardless of the sexist standards imposed by society, it is quite beneficial for women not to wear bras in terms of health.
When women do not wear bras, there are many health benefits. According to Health Shots, these improvements include: improved blood circulation, better sleep, better breathing, less chance for a fungal infection, hydrated nipples, and less chance of breast cysts. Other benefits of not wearing a bra include increased relaxation, retention of breast shape, and promotion of better skin health, according to India Times.
Not wearing a bra is healthy and natural for women. By examining the history of the bra, it is imperative to remember that women chose to wear them in the first place and now they can also choose not to.
Fast forward to our current lifestyle, the pandemic forced the world to quarantine. With that, women were stuck at home and no longer felt required to wear a bra to conform to societal standards, which demonstrates how comfortable women became with the idea of being braless. In addition to the new at-home work and school lifestyle, this trend is seen throughout social media platforms like Instagram or Tik Tok, where women promote bralessness.
This is a major change compared to a few years ago when women would never go braless, and if they did they felt uncomfortable. However, there are many platforms on social media to promote the idea of going braless. One very popular movement on social media is the Free the Nipple movement (@freethenipple on Instagram). Free the Nipple uses social media to promote going braless and to empower women who decide to do so. They work towards normalizing women being braless and fight against patriarchal societal values of women hiding their bodies while men can wear whatever they please.
While movements like Free the Nipple continue to grow, women still have to fight every day against societal values to not wear a bra despite it being healthy and natural to do so. The decision to wear a bra should be a woman’s choice and hers alone. Society should not dictate a woman’s body. So, with that, do what makes you happy and make decisions based on your levels of comfortability and not based on conforming to unrealistic standards.