What I learned when I stopped wearing a bra

When I was in middle school, I went to the mall and bought my first push-up bra. When I was in high school, I went to the mall and bought my first set of bra inserts. My goal was simple: I wanted loads of cleavage, and I wanted big boobs. (In case you didn’t catch on, big boobs were something I was definitely missing.

Growing up, it wasn’t as if I was wearing a bra because I just loved how I looked with big boobs. To be honest, it was really just about getting boys to like me. I bought into the stereotypical idea that if I had big boobs, boys would like me, or at least pay attention to me. However, the older, more feminist, and more queer I got, the less I cared about getting boys—or at least boys who’d only like me because of my bra size— to like me. I wanted to be myself, and the self I had was a self with pretty minimal boobage.

My boobs were unhappy with the bra life. Underwire was uncomfortable, and loading up with extra padding definitely wasn’t helping the situation. Shopping for bras was a nightmare, and buying them was a total pain. They always seemed to get destroyed in the washer (note: I wasn’t exactly huge on following laundry guidelines in college), and they would be too big or too small or the straps would slip and leave me shifting all day. At the end of the day, I just couldn’t understand why I was torturing myself.

There was the nipple situation, otherwise known as the bizarre American thing of sexualizing women’s nipples while totally not caring at all about men’s. I was really nervous about what would happen if someone saw some nip through my shirt. Would I be totally ruining their life? Would I be risking my own respectability just because I didn’t want to wear a bra?

At the end of the day, though, if someone didn’t respect me, or like me, because they saw my nipples they really didn’t deserve my respect. Nipples are nipples. They’re all basically the same. Why should I offend someone with my natural, universe-given body?

So I went for it. I stopped wearing bras. It was a small way for me to reclaim my own body and do what I wanted with my own appearance.

And pretty much no one noticed, or cared.

Because a bra is just a bra. And boobs are just boobs. And you should wear a bra if you want to, and not if you don’t. And your life really shouldn’t be impacted by the decision. Because bodies are bodies. And we deserve respect no matter what we look like.

My boobs are much happier this way, anyway. And so am I.