For the last 10 years of my life, I’ve never left my house without a bra on. I’m a big-boned woman with 38C-sized boobs, but I’ve always envied my flat-chested friends who could say "screw it" and go for a night out braless and looking totally fashionable. I’ve held back from letting my chest hang free because my boobs are too big and not perky enough. I’ve been terrified that people would shun me for being indecent. I’ve thought up dozens of reasons not to do it, but my mind was attracted to it anyway. Don’t blame me for wanting to wear a crop top without having my bra poking out of the bottom!
My curiosity about the braless life finally got the best of me, though. I wondered, "Why not free my chest balloons and say goodbye to underwire?" So then it happened. I went braless for an entire week because summer 2016 is lit AF.
Day One: Is Everyone Looking at Me?
Real talk—the first day going braless was definitely weird. When I put on clothes and stepped outside without shapewear to strap me in, I felt like I was doing something criminal. I acted ridiculously paranoid, like at any moment a random citizen on the street would catch me in the act and send me home to change, scolding me for my wildly inappropriate behavior.
I spent the first half of the day walking with my arms and purse slightly obscuring my chest until my roommate called me out on having zero chill about this. “They’re just boobs. You’re not John Hurt with an alien coming out of your stomach,” she reminded me.
The thing was it I felt like everyone I passed was looking at me. Even though that wasn’t true because this is Boston and nobody has the time to care about anything except food and baseball, my self-awareness was at an all-time high. I’ve never struggled too badly with insecurity about my body, but suddenly I was. Being aware of my chest made me concerned with how my thighs, my hair, my stomach and so many other features looked to all these people that didn’t give a shit whether I was wearing a bra or not.
Honestly, though, on day one I probably would have rather had an alien coming out of stomach than had to have kept being braless in public.
Day Two: Nips
On day two I woke up strangely empowered from going braless the day before. I decided not to restrict my outfit choice but instead to wear something normal. The shame I felt had dissipated and was replaced with determination. I had done a complete 180.
Who cares if I don’t wear a bra? Who cares if I’m bouncy? I am Beyoncé. I am unstoppable.
The thing about me is that after a day of being riddled with insecurity, I usually transform that into general fierceness. I did my Sunday morning grocery shopping with pride, making purposeful contact with strangers, daring them to challenge me. I strolled through Boston Commons in my flesh balloon glory. I focused on body positivity. I went through the day feeling pretty okay with myself…until the nips came out to play.
“Honey, I think you can kind of see your nipples in that top,” my mom said while we were FaceTiming in the afternoon. I looked down and, horrified, realized she was right. It’s one thing to go braless, but to have my nipples slightly visible through my shirt plagued me with the same sort of insecurity and body awareness as the day before.
Suddenly, I was Cersie Lannister walking the streets of King’s Landing with Septa Unella trailing behind me chanting “shame” and ringing her bell. I felt like I had been publicly indecent and needed to apologize to everyone.
But then I thought about inspiring ladies who advocate for going braless. Women like Lena Dunham, Savannah Brown and Cynthia Summers wouldn’t hide their nipples. They would feel empowered by their bodies, not embarrassed by them. I needed to get in that mindset. I wasn’t oversharing information about my body; I was just being me.
Day Three: The Art of Comfort
Not feeling as risqué as the day before (and also considering I had to work in an office for nine hours), I went with a conservative dress choice. The last thing I needed was my boobs traumatizing my coworkers.
I told my co-interns right away that I was going braless, and they were supportive and vaguely intrigued. That’s what you get when you work in an all-female office.
Honestly, working without a bra on felt amazing. I’m stationed at my computer throughout the day to write and edit, so not having to wear a bra made it feel more like I was sitting on the couch at home in pajamas instead of at a desk. I was reminded that when it comes down to it, bras really aren’t comfortable at all. They offer support and make the female figure more flattering, but they also suck. The wires poke me, the straps dig into my shoulders and even the most well-fitted bras still feel too tight around my ribs.
This is the first time I felt genuinely supportive towards the braless lifestyle. No amount of body insecurity could take away the fact that I was comfy AF.
Day Four: Tone It Up Tuesday
On Tuesdays in the Her Campus office, we celebrate Tone It Up Tuesday, meaning that instead of having to look like a professional young woman you can pretty much come in as the creature of the black lagoon in your workout clothes. The problem is that athletic tops are really not made to accommodate going braless.
Wearing a workout top without a sports bra made my free-hanging chest look frankly graphic and inappropriate because you could see it all. I eventually found a shirt that was vaguely modest, but nonetheless I went to work far too booby for my liking.
I think that this is the first day I actively noticed people looking at my chest instead of just imagining it because, honestly, I was pretty booby. Not in a way of, “Gross, she really needs to put a bra on,” but more like, “Oh, hey…cleavage. I’m cool with that.” Men and women I passed on the street gave my boobs some lingering glances, but I didn’t feel ashamed or like I needed to hide my body.
Day Five: Nips Part Two
Like my weekly bad hair day, I was having my first bad boob day. Not only were the nips out to play, but everything was saggy and misshapen. I was a potato—but a potato that didn’t care if other people noticed my bad boob day. I had gotten used to being braless. Lopsidedness was my new normal, and I felt pretty unapologetic about it. This could easily turn into more than a week-long experiment.
Day Six: 10 Braless Observations
- When I spill crumbs down my shirt, they just keep going with no bra to catch them.
- Going braless means no underboob sweat.
- It’s not weird if your nipple occasionally gets caught below your waistband.
- I feel compelled to tell people when I’m going braless, the same way I feel compelled to say “I’m sorry” for no reason.
- Going braless means throwing good posture out the window.
- People have a lot more important things to care about than my nipples.
- Saggy boobs resemble the face of a basset hound.
- Your mom will text you every morning insisting that you wear a bra today.
- Working out while braless is probably something Satan makes you do in hell.
- There is nothing remotely sexual about not wearing a bra. Men, you need to calm your tits.
Day Seven: I Learned Something
Reflecting back on why I was always scared to go braless, it was out of fear that other women would talk shit about me. Men leering towards my chest is pretty much standard order these days, but I’d been deeply worried that other women would think badly of me. I thought they would be the ones to shame my body, they were the ones who would make me feel guilty. I was so wrong about that.
During this week, I was surrounded by dozens of women who supported my personal experiment. Nobody pointed at me or shouted or did whatever people do when they see a braless woman. All of my insecurities had been in my head.
Honestly, even though this was a pretty empowering learning experience, I don’t plan on converting and going braless for the rest of my life. There are days when I might wear a sheer shirt and just really need one, and bras are still good for a lot. I can’t burn them in a protest just yet. However, now I know that certain outfits look better braless. I know that my boobs can maintain their shape by the mysterious grace of God himself and that nobody can ever make me feel shameful about my boobs.
Now that I’m one of those crazy “you need to go braless” people, I would honestly recommend that all women try this. You gain insight into your own body mentality, learn to appreciate the respect of your fellow ladies and love your boobs no matter what shape or size. Boobs are great, people. Let them hang free.