I know what you might be thinking upon reading the title to this article: “how could I possibly not wear a bra to campus?” Sure, it might seem daunting, especially considering UCT’s incongruous climate (who knows when a chilly breeze might blow through, exposing an unwanted nipple stand, slap-bang in the middle of Jammie Plaza?), but I can assure you that not wearing a bra to campus might just be the change you need, and deserve! I am proud to say that, since my first day of first year, I have hardly worn a bra to campus. Granted, I might be the treasurer of the “itty-bitty-titty-committee”, but there are bustier girls out there who have also jumped onto the Free the Nipple bandwagon.
This worldwide movement was launched in conjunction with the aim to promote values such as freedom and gender equality and is fast being adopted as a global fashion trend, with celebs such as Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, and Jennifer Lawrence advocating the Free the Nipple ideology on the Red Carpet. Bra-wearing has long been regarded as a kind of initiation into womxnhood, as Charlotte Willis writes in her article “What happened when I went bra-free for a week”: “One of my earlier memories of my gorgeous mother was watching her effortlessly whip on her bra with expert precision; a two-second morning ritual and she was ready to face the day. I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to be all grown up so that I could clip myself into one too”.
Many women turn to bras not only for the support that they provide, but for the perfectly round and perky illusion that they create. The reality of the fact is that this is merely an illusion: breasts come in all shapes and sizes, and I cannot help but feel as though bras contribute to a flawed perception of natural femininity. Coming to this realisation has helped me move away from the constraining lifestyle that bras dictate, and I tend to feel more comfortable and beautiful with the natural shape of my boobs in a t-shirt. Maybe that nipple stand on Jammie Plaza isn’t so much an “unwanted” occurrence as a sexy and liberating “screw you” to the patriarchy (pardon my French). Not only are there aesthetic benefits to not wearing a bra to campus, but there are health benefits too! Bras cause weakening of the muscles around the breast area, as a result of the fact that your boobs essentially don’t need to do any work when you’re wearing one. Not wearing a bra can actually strengthen these muscles, helping your boobs become round and perky all on their own!
This article does in no way serve as an instruction for every womxn on campus not to wear bras ever: part of being a feminist and a Free the Nipple advocate involves respecting and appreciating other womxn’s choices. The fact of the matter is that, while I believe that more female UCT students advocating for this movement will change perceptions around femininity, come womxn simply cannot go without bra, as their breast size makes the support that bras provide necessary. Despite this, I would enthusiastically encourage going braless at UCT; embrace those nipples, gals; take Jammie Plaza by storm. I promise it’s not as daunting as it seems.