Recently, I was asked why I have such a hatred of wearing bras. I’m not so anti-bra that I condemn or lecture people who do wear bras, but I avoid wearing them at all costs and the few days I do wear one, it irks me and I end up taking it off a few short hours later. Yet this simple question made me delve into my history with bras, and boobs, and all that comes with them, socially and personally.
I’ve had a hate-hate (or more accurately hate-hate-sadness-curiosity) relationship with bras ever since I could remember. I believe it was Cato and Em (two older sisters) who first ushered me into the textile aspect of womanhood via a training bra.
I couldn’t stand wearing it. I remember it not fitting and feeling restrictive and annoying. Avoidance of said training bra was my top priority.
My Bras through the Years
Bras became less awful as the years passed, but still unpleasant. For most of my teens I did not wear a bra and if I did (like 70% of American women) it did not fit me properly. The fabric of the cup would pucker (indicating too large a cup size) or be strained tight over me, (clearly too small a cup size). Also, the band would be too tight–ouch!–or too loose–ugh!
Plus, I preferred no underwire and no padding. Both of which are difficult to find. I thought underwire would poke into my ribs and feel too rigid. I thought that padding was somehow saying that I needed to be bigger and therefore my normal, natural size was not good enough. I didn’t like the implication that I should, or even must, give my bust extra padding. I know one perk of padding is nipple coverage, especially for cold days. But to me the primary perk sold to women was to look and feel bigger, because “bigger is better,” particularly where boobs are concerned. Also, I didn’t want to spend money, so overall, bra shopping was a challenge I never committed to tackling.
To add to my angst toward bras, I was a small-chested girl in a family of mostly busty women. So I felt left out, different in some fundamental, womanly way. I felt like I was seriously lacking something that made me not only a woman, but one of the girls in my own family.
Also, I think the emphasis society places upon breast size (bigger being better and more worthy of attention/jealousy/admiration/lust) is another part of why I was so upset to be so naturally small. It made me feel that because my bust was petite, I overall, as a woman, wasn’t significant enough to notice. From my perspective growing up, a primary value of women was their bodies.
The message was clear, I thought. A womanly body is a valued body and “womanly” means big boobs (among other things). Big boobs = value. By that definition of “womanly” (a definition I surmised due to magazines, movies, TV shows, lingerie ads, even my own family to an extent) I was severely lacking, and since my body wasn’t womanly, I wasn’t worthy. I thought I wasn’t worthy of notice.
What I mean by “notice” isn’t necessarily lustful notice, but rather the care and attention found in bra stores, found in a bra fitting and the subsequent hunt for that exact-fit bra.
To Be Continued…