From the time I was small, my mother told me stories about the 70s. One of her favorites was about all the women who burned their bras.
I got the impression she didn’t think too much of idea. Especially when many of those women put their bras back ON again in the 80s and 90s to become die-hard career girls. I didn’t really have a big opinion myself, but I did secretly admire those women for saying “no” to yet another social custom designed to constrict them.
Thirty years later, I followed in their footsteps.
My path to becoming the “Real Me” (which happens to be quite hippie-like, as it turns out) didn’t happen right away. In fact, it took a break-up with a boyfriend I really cared about to help me see the truth.
I learned from him that if he had known how hippie I really was when we started dating — we never would have dated at all.
Having always presented with a rather “normal” exterior, I had no idea my hippie tendencies were incongruous with my appearance. But the more I considered his feedback, the more I realized he was absolutely right.
Right after this breakup, I got an invitation to spend five weeks in Colorado (AKA: Hippie Paradise!). I also did a 30-day fast from meat, dairy and eggs (ie: a Daniel fast) as part of a prayer challenge with a friend. And in the middle of that fast, God wanted me to release these foods from my diet, at least for awhile, by going vegan. I also decided to buzz my hair and … you guessed it … take off my bra for good.
One morning I just didn’t put one on after my shower. By noon, as per Holy Spirit instructions, both of the bras I owned were in the trash.
I did not put a bra back on again for almost seven months. The closest I get is the built-in support of my workout shirts. And I couldn’t have been happier.
Because of the time period wherein I released my bra, I’ve come to have greater peace and serenity in my body. I have also come to greater acceptance because I no longer worry about whether or how other people feel about my “lady parts.”
So what if they bounce? So what if the occasional nipple shows through my shirt? So what if my physique looks a bit “flatter” because my boobs are smaller and they no longer artificially “stand up?”
My appearance and my choices are not defined by others. God gave me these two awesome mammary glands to—hopefully someday—provide nourishment for my children.
They are part of who I am as a woman. And that’s just … that.
Please understand, I didn’t go around flaunting my figure or intentionally trying to make it obvious that I was not wearing a bra. I simply didn’t wear one. It was a point of omission that many people couldn’t seem to help noticing, however. Which is a cultural commentary in itself. Were my breasts the problem, or the society who had somehow cast them as “sinful” and “gasp-worthy” to be present in the room?
I don’t suggest that this practice is for everyone; however, I was amazed by the number of women—friends and complete strangers alike—who would come up to me and whisper in my ear that they’d like to do the same, but just didn’t *quite* have the gumption yet!
But I’m here to say: simply not wearing a bra is easy. Just like I simply avoided meat, dairy, eggs, honey or any other animal product (for the most part) during this time.
You just decide you want to do it more than you care what people think.
It’s the releasing your concerns over other people’s expectations that is the tricky (and involved) part.
Being a bit “countercultural” for me at this point in my journey wasn’t for the sake of making a point. It was out of obedience to what I believe God has asked of me. And out of my commitment to be radically and authentically … me.
A few years ago, I could never have made any of these choices, because I was so conditioned to please everyone else and make sure I didn’t stand out too much.
All I can tell you is: my life became considerably more blessed when I took “off” all my concern over other people’s expectations. Even in my faith community my choices are considered a bit eccentric. But that’s totally okay.
I think we often believe that if we let go of social expectations, we’ll be ostracized. However, I have found the opposite to be true. In my case, people actually show me more respect—and there’s lots more to talk about.
Not to mention that most people don’t forget the woman who has a buzzed head and doesn’t wear a bra.
But hey, at least now, they remember my name.*
*NOTE: As the prompting of Holy Spirit, I have since begun wearing a bra again because of the season of life I’m stepping into here in the Middle East. However, I can feel the difference–I no longer need that garment to make me sexier or more desirable–and I trust I’ll never put “on” the old cultural baggage again when I put on that garment!