I don't give a damn about norms. My girls fly free!
Perspective is a funny thing.
The grass is always greener on the other side; dark, straight hair is always better (at least when you have blonde, wavy locks), and large chests are always better than small ones (at least when you're a teen, a teen who wants to "look like a woman").
You see, when I was 10 or 11 years old, all of my friends were "developing." They were shaving their legs, experimenting with makeup, and spouting breasts. (Some were even sporting C-sized chests.) But my legs, while hairy, were covered in peach fuzz, my mother and father forbid me to wear makeup, and my chest was as flat as Fettuccine or a freshly-minted dollar bill.
Talk about disappointing.
Every morning I woke up and checked for swelling beneath my shirt — or breast buds, as my mother called them. I drank a sh*t-ton of milk because, well, the myth was milk would make your breasts grow fuller and faster, and I rubbed my chest because, yes, there was also a myth out there that massage can, and will, make your boobs bigger. (Lies, I tell you. All lies!)
But when I was 12 something started to happen.
My nipples puffed up, everything was tender, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I ran to my mother. I showed her my developing body: my swollen breasts and my unshaven legs. I asked to go shopping; I begged to go shopping. I wanted — and needed — to get a training bra.
I remember my mother telling me not to rush it. I remember her telling me I had the rest of my life to wear bras. I remember her implying bras were uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and almost always a pain in the ass. But I didn't care.
I wanted to be a big girl, a young women. So the following Saturday, my mother, father, brother and I made a trip to the mall. And while I don't remember whether we went to Sears or Penny's, I remember shopping for that bra. I remember picking out a white or cream-colored one, with small pink flowers and even smaller green leaves. And I remember running home, strapping it on, and stuffing it full of tissues.
This is what I will look like, I thought. This is what the"new me" will be.
I also remember the way it pinched and itched. I remember how difficult it was to get on, that it was nearly impossible to take off, and that — after a week or so — the novelty wore off. (Just as it had when I wore fake glasses.) But now I was stuck. I was committed.
I was bound by that damn bra — and would be for the next fifteen years of my life.
And it gets worse, because I never really got out of the training bra phase. Sure, my breasts were once a B-cup but that was when they were their largest (i.e. in my "before baby" period). Before long, bras became a reminder of one of the things I hated most about my body. Do anytime I wasn't out — when I wasn't working, at school, or running errands — I was braless. My itty-bitty titties were free.
But everything changed in 2013 after I gave birth to my daughter, and after I stopped breastfeeding. You see, as my milk dried up, my breasts shrank ... and shrank. They became so small none of my pre-pregnancy bras fit. They became so small that no bras fit.
And instead of fighting with what seemed impossible and pointless, I simply let them go: my boobs and my bras.
And when I let go of bras, I was able to see my beauty — my natural, uninhibited, and unrestrained beauty.
Today, I'm a content and almost-entirely bra-less woman. (Hey, I'm a distance runner; sometimes I just have to rock a sports bra!) And here are just five reasons I will never wear a bra again.
1. I've never, ever found a bra that fits.
Models make everything look so easy, and so sexy. Underwire provides lift. Padding gives us small-chested gals a boost, and wide bra straps are meant to better support those with big breast. But the truth is that my tits — and most tits — don't look like those you see on TV. I'm five-feet tall; I have broad shoulders, lopsided nipples, and I barely fit into an B-cup.
That means that no matter what bra I pick — underwire, no underwire, lightly padded, thin, or entirely unpadded — the band always digs into my sides, the cups never actually "cup" my breasts, and I'm always forced to comprise cup-fit for comfort, or vice versa.
Oh, and did I mention my breasts are drastically different cup sizes? My left is a B while my right barely fills in an A. This means if I buy a 32 A, my left tit is always popping out; if I wear a 32 B, I get cupping (i.e. anyone taller than five feet, and standing on my left side, can see right down my shirt — nipple and all).
2. I feel and look better without them.
I've been self-conscious about my breasts for years. I mean, no one ever told me "big breasts were best," but it was implied: in movies and on television, in magazine ads and on store mannequins, and even in seemingly benign comments, jokes, and jabs. The world isn't always kind to small-breasted women and as soon as I realized my breasts were done growing, I developed a complex ... and I wanted implants.
But then I started going bra-less. And it was then something changed. Because when I gave up the conception of what a "perfect chest" was supposed to look like, when I gave up the idea of what "perfect woman" was supposed to be shaped like, I was able to appreciate and embrace the uniqueness of me, and my "unconventional" sexuality.
My clothes fit better without a bra. Instead of trying to play up my tits, I now play up other assets, like my neck, my shoulders, my broad and beautiful back. I feel better without a bra, and I love them. I really love myself.
3. Science says bras aren't good for women.
Yup, that's right. Science has my back here, baby! You see, according to sport science researcher Jean-Denis Rouillion, a professor at the University of Franche-Comte and his 15 year study of the effect of bras on women between 18 to 35, wearing a bra does nothing to support the chest or prevent premature sagging.
"Medically, physiologically, anatomically, breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra," he said.
What's more, researchers now believe that wearing bras can actually inhibit our "ability to develop supportive breast tissue ... and [if/when we go] without one we gain more tone and lift to our breasts." How's that for science!
4. I like to be a "rebel."
Truth be told, going braless isn't being rebellious but it also isn't the norm. (I mean, it once was, but today ... well, today those who go braless are considered part of some ultra-feminist bra-less revolution. Or they're assumed to be hippies.) The good news is that I don't give a damn about "norms" and my rebellion means I accept my body and my breasts as they are.
It means I accept myself without external approval. It means I'm comfortable embracing and expressing my sexuality, and it means I'm more than happy to let go of the chains (and straps) that once bound me.
5. I don't need one.
So, yeah. Not only are my breasts small, but they're healthy, perky, and they don't jiggle. They don't bounce, and they don't need to be contained — for your sake or mine.