It’s Getting Nippy Out: How I Stopped Wearing a Bra

When I was eleven, I made a time capsule with my best friends and sisters. In it,  I wrote myself a letter. The letter revealed that I was obsessed with boys (why though?) and could not wait to know what having boobs felt like. I also said that one day I would be a superstar.

When I was thirteen, I got my first bra. Shopping at Target with my Mom, we separated and I found myself in the bra section. I tried on an underwire bra with multicolored tiny hearts on the small white cups. It fit. Like in some bad preteen movie, I ran through the store towards my mom, holding the bra in my hand. I had finally got what I wanted: BOOBS

Over the next few years I’d spend my money on bras: padded, push up, lacy, pink, white, black, blue, green and everything inbetween. Usually from Target or Victoria’s Secret, these bras were never cheap (though I know larger chested girls have a much harder time finding inexpensive bras).

I liked wearing bras to make my chest look bigger. Sometimes I layered my regular bras with sports bras on top because sports bras would flatten me out. Even in baggy t-shirts, I wanted to have something there instead of someone being unable to see my boobs at all. Other than that, bras felt very uncomfortable and I loved taking them off when I got home.

But during my first year at Hamline in 2014 my outlook on breasts, women, and society changed. The film Free The Nipple came out that year, and the movement had become popular by feminists in the mainstream media. I started realizing how sexist the idea of “needing” to wear a bra was. There is no science to show that bras are required for support (unless the weight of your breasts makes your back hurt without one). No women I knew wanted to be caught dead “nipping”: a somehow embarrassing announcement to the world that female humans have nipples (even though everyone knows that they have ability give babies life!).

When I stopped wearing a bra, people would frequently say, “I can see your boobs,” even though... they couldn’t. How my boobs look with a shirt over them doesn’t allow one to see what they actually look like, only what my true breast shape is. Wearing a bra shows the bra’s shape, perfectly symmetrical and round, not the breast’s shape. Though it is still obvious that a woman wearing a bra has boobs, I don’t know why it becomes more overt or offensive when we don’t wear one.

This transition was not the easiest. I started during the winter of my freshmen year because I was mostly wearing big sweaters. The winter helped me get used to the feeling, and by spring I was comfortable even wearing semi see-through shirts without bras. I became passionate about the right to free the female nipple, and didn’t understand why my breasts were so oversexaulized. I feel beautiful without tops on, and wish I could sunbathe on Wisconsin beaches during the summer without  annoying tanlines, slutshaming, sexual harrassment, or getting arrested.

So many of my friends express fear about going braless, and exposing their clothed nipples. I have heard friends’ boyfriends shame them for doing this. Our bodies are not inherently sexual and there is no need to feel shame if you do feel sexy. I love normalizing the female body; I feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin. Burn your bras! Not really, donate them. Or don’t. Do what’s best for you. Just don’t feel ashamed for leaving your bras behind.