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Why is my choice not to wear a bra still taboo?

Vanessa de Largie | Sydney Morning Herald | March 6, 2016

I choose not to wear a bra. My bosom will not be restricted by a socially accepted undergarment. Females stare in shock — disgust. Have they boozies? Is it thy nipple?

Yet I peer through the window of fashion: Skirt revealing taut thigh, shorts swimming below the navel. Acceptance granted. And yet clothing worn without a bra is a sin within our society. What’s the problem? I’m confused.

Women are obsessed with their rate of sag and will do anything to keep their girls standing upright. Many take the pencil test to determine their degree of droopiness, brainwashed into believing that bras prevent sagginess. Yet this theory has never made much sense to me. If you support something that doesn’t need support, it will stop supporting itself, right?

According to Professor Jean-Denis Rouillion of Universite de Franche-Comte, I am right on the money. After a 15-year-study using a slide rule and caliper to measure the slightest change in breasts, Rouillion found that women who never wore bras had nipples on average of seven millimeters higher each year than regular bra users.

“Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra,” Rouillion said.

Numerous surveys confirm that women wear bras for aesthetics rather than functionality. And recent figures show that between 70 and 80 per cent of women wear the wrong sized bra, causing a multitude of issues such as back pain, pinched nerves, heartburn and digestive issues.

I have the same perky breasts I had ten years ago and believe it’s because I’m always braless. The only time I wear a bra is when I require some cleavage assistance from Miss Push Up. My gazongas sit confidently upwards but women on the street are disgusted that I’ve left my brassiere at home. It’s a daily occurrence to receive death stares, gasps, sighs and even verbal abuse.

Why does my bralessness spark so much anger amongst women? Why do they find my choice to not imprison my puppies disgusting and vulgar?

Germaine Greer was famously quoted as saying: “Bras are a ludicrous invention; but if you make bralessness a rule, you’re just subjecting yourself to yet another repression.”

I don’t judge women who choose to wear a bra, though surveys report most do so to conform to societal expectations. I totally get why women wear bras whilst working out. I mean, who needs two black eyes?

I just don’t feel that I should have to experience abuse by the bra-police when I go about my business during the day. It’s another form of shaming and I’m sick of being shamed for loving my breasts, body and freedom.

If we’re being truly honest with ourselves, bras are uncomfortable. They often cause back pain, skin-marks, bad posture and sweating. Every woman knows the joy of getting home and removing her bra. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

Well, that simple pleasure is a way of life for me. My body feels freer, clothes look better, I walk with better posture and there’s a certain pride that comes with being confident enough to free the nipple.

Free The Nipple is an equality movement which fights the censorship and oppression of women globally. Celebrities such as Liv Tyler, Lena Dunham, and Miley Cyrus have all shown public support for the initiative. I support any movement that supports women but I don’t feel that ‘Free The Nipple’ will have much effect until we change mindsets about the female body on a deeper level.

Don’t pretend that spending 16 billion dollars a year worldwide on bras doesn’t come at a cost. Apparel labels rely heavily on sweatshop labor in countries such as India, China, Sri Lanka and Jordan. Many women around the world don’t get the choice of whether to wear a bra or not because the cost of one would equal up to 30 hours of their wage.

When I see a braless woman, I only have admiration and respect. I know too well how comfortable and free she must feel, and I commend her for her courage to exercise that freedom in a world that shames the female body.

Women shouldn’t have to show courage when it comes to walking around freely and confidently within their bodies but unfortunately, we live in a society that has conditioned us to think that breasts are evil.

Why is there such a stigma around the free breast? Do we see boobs as only a sexualised commodity? Do we feel that a free breast will only encourage more sexual violence against women? Or do we just have a s–tload of body-shame?

I don’t have the answers but I do know that our breasts aren’t evil and neither are women who choose bralessness.