Earlier I already wrote about body image and self-love and how clothing can play a role in connecting to yourself and others. I believe that if we could value our appearances as less important, we would be able to connect more deeply with ourselves and one another. In this earlier post I mentioned simple clothing, being somehow neutral-looking and comfortable. On this topic, there is one specific thing I’d like to share further!
Last fall I attended a Vipassana meditation course. I was just wearing comfortable clothes, all was fine. Until one day during meditation I got enormously aware of how uncomfortably tight my bra was. And really, it wasn’t enormously tight. It had been one of my favourite, best-fitting bras for years. Bras are supposed to be tight, that’s how they behave best. Say what? I got very confused and frustrated. Is this normal? Is this how it feels? I had heard of women disliking wearing bras and being really relieved when being able to take them off after a long day, but I have never felt a thing. And now, all of a sudden, I did. What does it mean?
This got me thinking. Why are we supposed to wear bras? Yes, this is where I am going. Breasts are pretty special things. They are designed to feed babies. Women’s relationships with their breasts are very personal and there’s a lot of variation, as well as with breast themselves which come in different shapes and sizes. Breasts are often seen as a sexual object. In our culture, it is the norm to put your breasts in a bra, so they will be supported, will be shaped into ‘the right shape’ and won’t move ‘too much’. This is the right thing to do, it’s decent to wear a bra.
But what if you don’t have to? During that meditation session I experienced that it was pretty annoying to wear a bra. Also, there are stories about how wearing wired bras may negatively affect your breast health, about how bras are actually not that supporting and about how letting your breasts free is actually better for them remaining vital so to say.
I won’t go into further detail about the ethics of wearing bras or the health concerns, but I would like to focus on what I found to work for me and what may work for you as well – if you are a woman, of course.
Well, I had been thinking of trying wireless soft bras in stead of the more common wired, pre-shaped bras, but I hadn’t, because I hadn’t been able to find nice-looking ones. This time I decided to put some more effort into it and I succeeded in finding some nice ones that fit me quite well. I also experiment with wearing no bra sometimes, but I prefer wearing soft bras.
I like how wearing soft bras makes me feel more vulnerable. Wearing the pre-formed, wired bras is the safe thing to do, for your breasts will look exactly how they’re ‘supposed to look’ according to the porn and fashion industry, or just something in society. Therefore, wearing soft bras made me feel more self-conscious and vulnerable in the beginning. Wearing no bra has this effect even stronger. Breasts seem to be important to people, right? So what if yours aren’t ‘good enough’ and others find out? These thoughts are pretty ridiculous and disturbing if you think about it.
So, wearing a soft bra or no bra made me feel more insecure and vulnerable because of how it looks. This can be perceived as something negative, but one can also experience these feelings and learn from them. We can learn to own our feelings and the looks of our breasts!
Also, wearing these alternative bras makes you feel differently, because it feels different physically. The soft bras are made of really thin fabric, allowing you to feel much more through it. This makes a huge a difference really! Every time something or someone somehow touches your breasts, you will feel more. (I am dead-serious here. I am referring to making exuberant arm movements or carrying stuff leaning on your chest, those kind of things.) And how about hugging people? You will feel the other better, but they will feel you as well. There you have it: vulnerability.
I feel as if wearing simple clothing, including soft bras or no bras at all, brings you closer to yourself and to others. It can make you feel more vulnerable, but this is actually a beautiful thing. When you learn to be comfortable feeling vulnerable around others, you will not only feel better yourself, but you enable others to get more comfortable with their vulnerability around you and others as well. It’s beautiful and very important.
If you aren’t sure about vulnerability being such a good thing, you may watch Brené Brown’s TED talk The Power of Vulnerability or read her same-titled book. I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the talk a couple of times – and I like it!
If you like reading more about wearing bras or not: go here for Wild Woman Speaks’ post To Bra of Not To Bra [EDIT: this website ceased to exist]. It’s gives some more things to consider, also about wearing no bra at all. I realise that this is all very personal and it also depends on the size of your breasts and the shape of your body, to which extent you need a bra for the actual support.
If you’re interested in trying soft bras and have no clue where to go: I find that H&M and Monki do sell nice ones (and I once saw somewhere that those chains are relatively ethical, but I have no source or certainty). [EDIT: Not really. Possibly they’re slightly better than other large chains, but not really.] (Addition July 2021: check out here how ethical Monkey is & here how ethical H&M is.)
If you’re not convinced of the looks of soft bras, check out the Monki one below. Isn’t it the coolest bra you’ve ever seen?! They are cacti! It’s a bra with cacti on it. That’s just awesome.