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Why I Don’t Wear a Bra

Plus tips if you want in on this freedom

03.20.17
Why-I-Don't-Wear-a-Bra-Man-Repeller

Around a month ago, I found myself in a meeting room at the offices of a popular British gossip magazine. While I pretended to be interested in the news writer job I was being interviewed for, my mind could only focus on one thing. On my right shoulder, I could feel a poly-cotton-blend strap loosen its grip, slowly making its way down my arm. I didn’t know what to do. Should I let my boob pop out and pretend this isn’t happening? Or, should I hoist that strap up and take it on the chin? I decided to do the latter. That goddamn strap wasn’t going to defeat me.

I didn’t get the job and it was the first time I’d worn a bra in a while. Curse my 38Fs. I didn’t want that job anyway.

Over the past year or so, I’ve worn a bra maybe five times, and that’s only because I was visiting my mom. She caught wind of my boobs flopping around and gave me that look all brown mothers use to guilt their adult children into doing their bidding.

If there’s one thing all boob-havers know, it’s that fashion demands we prioritize style over comfort. (Though, in the spirit of everything the Man Repelling woman stands for, I say to hell with it.) Fed up with having to deal with underwires sticking into me, fabric chafing against me and the extra step in my morning routine, I decided to abstain from wearing a bra. I know, it was an incredibly brave decision on my part.

Going braless is freeing in so many different ways. You learn to appreciate and notice the natural shape of your boobs, rather than the exaggerated, round, padded version you normally see underneath your clothes. It’s a lot less painful; no more itching, sweating or straps falling down. Going braless adds more fun to the whole underwear-buying process. Reserving bras for formal and professional occasions means that I have accumulated somewhat of a power underwear collection. When I do subject myself to that torture device, I feel like a godly bitch.

Why-I-Don't-Wear-a-Bra-Man-Repeller-01

Not wearing a bra has also saved me in more than one instance. Flying as a brown woman is always a fun and exciting experience; I never know where security agents are going to inappropriately fondle me. During one routine “random check,” an agent used a handheld metal scanner which supposedly found my bra’s underwire and clasp to read “unusually high.” (I yelled, “it’s just my bra!” and was ignored.) I decided to go commando on top for the return journey, was randomly searched again (what are the odds?!) and was ordered to stand in a machine, but this time I wasn’t patted down, which is a triumph for any Afghan person. Ditching bras will make you less of a perceived security threat, people.

Ready to take the plunge and dedicate yourself to a braless existence? It isn’t an easy transition and your mom will almost certainly make snide comments about it, but with a little help you, too, can eradicate the most irritating article of clothing from your life. You might think it’s as easy as simply removing your bra, but it’s so much more than that, my protégé.

1. Thick fabrics are your best friend. Invest in neoprene and other heavy materials for tops. As an added bonus, these materials usually don’t require any ironing.

2. Not into boob flop? Order a load of specialized tape from Amazon a la this tutorial. If you end up ditching the braless lifestyle, you’ll have tape to use for other things normal people do with it.

3. Powder your nose and your under-boob. I use a dusting powder from Lush that smells divine (I don’t fancy smelling like a baby) and contains tons of glitter because I prefer my chest region to sparkle like a disco ball.

Illustrations by Maria Jia Ling Pitt. 

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  • amen !

  • dietcokehead

    These here H-cups are skeptical, but I do have that Lush powder, so maybe I’ll try going nuts on vacation?

  • Rheanonn Perez

    so happy to have u in the club! lol. i have A-cups so it’s easy for me to go braless, but a lot of my more bust-y friends are like “I COULD NEVER” so this was a refreshing read.

    frheak.net

  • But I’m a Cheerleader

    I…wish that it was that simple. I’ve got 34Gs and honestly, going braless is something I only do when the dress or shirt I’m wearing is tight enough to keep them in place, or I am wearing a bodysuit. For me clothes fit better with a bra or bodysuit than without, and I don’t have to deal with underboob sweat marks that I get when I go braless.

    Shopping for bras is no longer a hard thing for me now, as I know the brands and sizes that fit me the best, and I can usually find them on sale somewhere so I don’t end up spending what I would have at Nordstrom.

    Still, even though I prefer underwear, everyone should have the right to wear whatever they want, show it off, or not wear it, and not be judged no matter if you have an A cup or J cup. The amount of breast-shaming I got as a teenager from older women over a showing bra strap or that they bounce (OMG) was way more traumatic than any male attention I got, so I’m a firm supporter in women supporting other women in this.

  • Jenn K.

    I wish! It is so painful and uncomfortable to go without for me, especially with my active lifestyle. My shoulders can’t, well, shoulder the burden alone. 🙂

  • Adrianna

    Honestly, I just wear a sports bra 95% of the time. It’s like not wearing a bra, but better. And not ones that are sized “small, medium, or large” – I purchase Anita sports bras sized 32G on Amazon – different from my regular bra size, 30FF.

    • Gabrielle

      I love Anita bras + sports bras! especially for the busty among us. my fave bra is Anita right now. it’s almost like wearing nothing! S/M/L sports bras are the bane of my life 🙁

      • But I’m a Cheerleader

        Oh God, the S/M/L/XL ….same goes for swimsuits. Once I discovered swimwear in bra sizes, I only wear 2 piece suits. It was really liberating, and made showing my belly way easier knowing my tits looked amazing!

        • Adrianna

          Same here! I’m happy to see that a wide range or bra sizes are easier to find now, even on Amazon Prime

  • Alice

    My boobs are quite small but I still don’t feel comfortable without a bra. I’m still in college which makes it a bit awkward. Plus I live in a warm country so I appreciate loose, flowy and sheer clothing. I also run to the bus a lot which ouch.

    Alternatively I wear non wired, non padded bralettes and in the winter tighter camis.

    • Adrianna

      Um that cat in your profile pic is adorable

      • Alice

        Thanks! She’s called Mia and she’s great. She has a dog like personality and is very photogenic.

  • BarbieBush

    Mom, grandmas and aunts all not at all subtly telling me I have issues for not wearing a bra. “You really don’t care do you?”… No mom, I don’t.

    Started when I began dating a girl who only wore sports bras because they were more comfortable. After thinking about it..yes it is actually uncomfortable to have wire fighting gravity on behalf of your breast weight.

    Not into the smushed boob sport-bra situation, I just go braless most days and mean mug people staring at my nipples. Unfortunate that in some business situations it actually feels “unprofessional” not to wear this boob-cage.

    • jdhammer

      Right? I’m all for nips in the street but if I’m trying to convince you to spend $100k with my company my nipples shouldn’t be part of that conversation.

  • Aydan

    Also super super tight crop tops layered under clothes or bralettes are great alternatives! If you’re wearing a top that’s tight enough, you’ll be able to keep things in check without feeling too all over the place! I think I’m a 50/50 bra/not bra wearer and honestly it makes me feel infinitely more free despite not completely shirking them!!

  • Leslie Ortiz

    What are bras? I have proudly not been wearing official bras for 6 years. I switched to American Apparel basically training bras and I’m never turning back even though they’re going out of business. I am aware of the privilege I have with my 34Bs but it feels so much better and my nipples are fly y’all.

    • dayman

      This!!! If anyone has ideas for places that I can go for cheap-ish, plain-ish bralettes that have a little more than just two triangles of fabric, please let me know. Idk what I’m gonna do!

    • are they still available? link pleeeeeease, I’ve been looking for some like that

      • Leslie Ortiz

        So unfortunately AA is going out of business – soo visit your local AA. Everything is 50160% off. I’m very sad about it but surprisingly Urban Outfitters has a bunch of bralettes/training bras that are usually on their sales rack. Here’s a link! Now $10! Giiiirrrllls get it: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=38237780&category=SALE_W_INTIMATES

        • Thank YOU! I found some on the German UO website, I’m so annoyed at AA, although they’re shutting down and totally bankrupt, they’re still not discounting their stuff here in Berlin, so cruel!

    • But I’m a Cheerleader

      Even with 34Gs, I’m a big fan of bodysuits! They aren’t underwired, but tight enough to limit the bounce and make me feel good about not wearing a bra. Asos makes some great ones in all sizes.

  • tmm16

    I don’t dislike bras, but I love not wearing one. It’s not even a comfort thing. I just prefer my boobs natural. Is that weird? Maybe, but it’s true!

    • Same! For a while I was using the Nippies pasties but that got sweaty and weird. I usually wear a bra, but I love when I don’t even more.

  • moio

    Honestly, the incomfort of bras is a big problem of sizing too… Shops usually don’t carry enough sizes to fit you properly and also have no idea most of the time what fitting actually is!! This is absolutely crazy.
    I live in asia where bra size is limited to really small so I have taken up to buying online. A sub Reddit called A Bra That Fits (/r/abrathatfits) completely changed my world because I now know exactly my size.
    I was trying old bras I got at shops the other day and ended up throwing away 90% of them because they did not fit at all. Bras are supposed to be much more comfortable that most of use are used to. Do yourself a favor and check your real size before you discard bras completely.

    • But I’m a Cheerleader

      I feel you there. I feel like there is a market for it though, like shoes larger than a size 8. There are lots of women with different body types in Asia, so the misnomer that everyone is small needs to die.

    • CS

      Yes, correct sizing is imperative. I love the fittings offered at Nordstrom and their accommodating return policy. Even still, sometimes I try things on in the fitting room, am convinced it’ll do, and then wear it around the house for a day and learn, lo and behold, a bra is just not going to cut it and back it goes. I think for folks with less common bra sizes having patience is crucial. Even though it might take four trips to get bras fitted, in the end having one you find super comfortable makes it worth it in the end because the uneven weight distribution without proper fit can be unbearable.

  • Inaat

    Im an a-cup and would love to go bra-less, but my breasts are seriously triangle shaped. No fat and big nips. So I use those soft pretty bras with no padding or anything or a sportsbra to push them in. Wish I had the confidence and flatter breasts to do it..

    • Leslie Ortiz

      You are not alone! Triangular boobs are more common than you think. It’s unfortunate that the media – including porn – don’t include our VERY COMMON boob shape! It took me a long time to feel confident without a bra on. Mine are triangular and a B cup and are not super perky but they are bad ass bitches. I love them now. Tighter shirts always provide some snug/cuddling of the boob and help them look a bit rounder.

      • Inaat

        Thank you for really making me feel better!

  • Krusty the Kat

    This is so timely. I recently made the decision to stop wearing underwires and only use bralettes or sports bras. It is (literally) so freeing. Maybe it’s just me, but the current political climate (and utter disregard for women that our president shows) has really pushed me farther to the left in some of my clothing choices. As in, the thought of wearing uncomfortable -anything- just to look more sexually desirable kind of makes my stomach turn. Bring on the turtle necks and pants, I need to be comfortable for the resistance.

    Has anyone else felt this way?

    • M.a.s.r.

      Reading your comment made me realize I have also been (unconsciously) transitioning to wearing mostly sports bras and soft bralettes. I guess I am just tired of feeling like I’m strapped into a vice all damn day, I pick up my underwire and am like uhhh no thanks. And I also feel you with dressing differently, and I’m not sure if it’s purely politically related but it certainly is culturally. I suppose I am just regurgitating the Man Repeller ethos here but I am honestly tired of wearing clothes that make me feel like I fit into any sort of preconceived box. I want to wear clothes that make me feel comforable, not sexually objectified, and happy. I noticed that my last several purchases have been of weird pants: brightly printed satin wide leg trousers, cropped embroidered culottes, oversized khakis and I think it’s my subconscious mind expressing some of these anti-establishment feelings.

    • Fezzers

      Hmm – I too feel like I’m gravitating away from anything that reads overtly “sexy”. I think that also because I’m on a budget a lot of the cute shirts I find are not necessarily tailored correctly to fit someone who is generally a size small, but has a larger bust (maybe expensive shirt wouldn’t fit either? I tailor what I can myself, but darts are beyond me). As a result I’m pretty much wearing a sports bra every day. They’re pretty comfy despite the boob squish.

    • Hooray for sports bras.

  • Bras are the worst! I’ve worn one maybe twice this year, but I’ve ordered a bralette for the off chance I really need to cover my nipples. I’m just an A cup so I’ve never really needed one for support, but wore them because of peer pressure. Little by little I stopped wearing one – under big sweaters, under loose tops. Now it’s pretty much always and it feels so good.

  • CS

    More power to you all, but I’ll keep wearing my bras, thanks. 30G here (with seriously unevenly sized boobs, to boot) and I feel seriously uncomfortable without wearing a bra. Having underwires and shoulder straps helps to equally distribute the weight and avoid back and shoulder pain. I definitely understand the appeal for some women to go braless, but for me I love them (and wish it was easier to find good ones in my size).

    • But I’m a Cheerleader

      Yes, I think this is a key thing to note. When your breasts are large and your ribcage small, the weight is seriously debilitating. I’m convinced my breasts probably weigh 15 lbs combined, and wearing a bra is the only thing that keeps my posture somewhat good. Also during pms when my breast tissue hurts soooo bad, the bra is necessary.

      • Completely off topic, but your handle brings me joy.

        • But I’m a Cheerleader

          LOL thanks, that’s what I strive for!

  • Deanna

    I have mid sized boobs and I go braless sometimes but the worst is my clothing rubbing against my nipples! And the bouncing isn’t that fun. If I were in a less active job maybe. I had to go braless for a week after getting tattooed on my back and I had to wear pasties the whole time because I couldn’t handle the rubbing!

  • Clare Brewster

    Thanks to the recent trend in bralettes my underwear draw no has only non wire bras and omg I am so much happier for it. Comfortable is and understatement. Some of them are so much prettier too. I tried braless a while back but I was constantly self conscious. This is a perfect pretty middle ground.

  • Bailey Stark

    I’ve had 36Ds since freshmen year of high school and I’ve always wanted to go braless but I never thought I could do it because my boobs were too big. But lemme tell ya, reading this article has inspired me to let them hhaannnggggg
    ( . Y . )

  • Lucy

    I’d say I’m braless 95% of the time, but I have pretty small boobs (I don’t understand US sizing but in NZ I’m an 8C) so it’s not as big a deal… I’m very into the singlet over t-shirt look though, which means I can still wear white! Layering is your friend.

  • the fox forgot

    I feel like this but with underwear and everything thinks I’m a big ole weirdo

  • Leah

    I’ve always hated underwire, I haven’t worn an underwired bra since I was in college. I tend to go for crop-top style bras, soft ones with elasticated bands and thick straps (Outdoor Voices and Sunspel do some gorgeous ones.) No more shoulder ache, strap slip or unexpected boob pop out! Yay!

    Thankfully my boyfriend finds them very sexy too, so I don’t feel like I’m raining on his parade by banning lace and push up bras from my underwear drawer.

  • Kattigans

    I go through bra phases. I’m a 32 C and sometimes am super into wearing soft bras/no wire or padding other times I need a padded bra just to make a top look better. But overall, I did prefer to be braless. I usually am on weekends. I DGAF for reals on weekends. I just tried on some of madewells new bras and was half impressed. The lacey one was great and the cotton one not so much.

  • Jeanie

    After experiencing a lot of “bad days” where wearing a bra while hunched over a desk for long hours gave me back pain and a feeling of difficulty breathing, I try to go without a bra as much as possible (it’s not a fit issue. I worked in a bra store.)

    I am using Nippies nipple covers at work. I feel like I look better without a bra. No unnatural lines visible under my clothes. As I tend to overheat, it’s also makes a huge difference to go without. The Nippies covers also give a tiny bit of lift if anyone’s interested.

  • Delaney

    I find this incredibly motivating. I have always supported the “free the nipple” movement, but this is taking it to an entirely new level. My fear of going braless is primarily due to the flopping that you mentioned in your article. Going up/down stairs, sitting down in a chair, WEARING A BACKPACK, ect.

  • Jessica

    i stopped wearing bras because for two years now i have only had one boob. that fits nicely in a sports top and no one notices.