Tuesday, 6 November 2018

IS BRA CULTURE A BOOBY TRAP?

***The Prawn Shop has kindly allowed us to use her gorgeous illustrations throughout our post. Please go and follow her Instagram account HERE. And, as I have recently, go to her site HERE and invest in one of her cute bootilicious and boobilicious tees/ jumpers! WE LOVE @theprawnshopp and we would love it if you showed her some love too! <3 ***

Image: The Prawn Shop Instagram. 
When I was 13, I tagged along with my step-mum and step-sister (both of whom are generously proportioned in the chest department) to Bravissimo. I was always quite a skinny child, so when the lady asked if I wanted to have a bra fitting, I politely refused – Bravissimo only offers sizes DD+. The lady assured me that they could find something, so reluctantly, I let her measure me. 

It was quite surreal, taking off my Primark bra and letting a complete stranger assess my 13-year-old boobs. No measuring tapes or size charts, only a skilful eye. As the other two tried on their mega-bras, the cups of which I could fit over my head, I tried a few nude coloured ones with an underwire and push up. They made my boobs look perky. Sexy almost. They fit. I was happy. I nearly died when the woman told me it was a 28E. An E! I had the biggest boobs in the world!

Of course, a 28E is the same cup size as a 34C. But, being the capitalist mastermind that it is, by categorising me as a 28E, Bravissimo subscribed me to their business: no other shops offered such an obscurely unique bra size. I couldn’t let Es flab around without underwire, padding and push-up support; bras were a necessity, just like any other underwear. And if you’re going to spend £30 on one, you might as well throw in a bit of lace and a little bow.

It was only recently when I thought that maybe, my 13-year-old, revolutionised-self was not so revolutionised. Maybe, bras weren’t a sign of maturity. Maybe, bras were making women (and men!) everywhere think that boobs must be perfectly perky and round.

At a similar age to Haze, I also remember being shocked to find out that I was not the 32 C I thought I had been, and that I was, in fact, a 28 DD! I bought the bra size the lady fitted me in, but, after a few weeks of wearing it, I felt the fitted wire-bra constrict around my ribcage. I disliked the way the clasp dug into my spine whenever I relaxed into a chair and how, after I had worn it all day, the lacy pattern imprinted on my skin when I took it off. 


The only reason I can think to wear a bra is: I’m made to feel like I should, I’ve constructed a little list to justify why actually, this isn’t good enough. Now, I pretty much always go braless.

1.     Saves money. Bras are expensive.

2.    Comfort. Pretty bras are often uncomfortable. Boobs are pretty without bras!

3.   More fashion possibilities. Off the shoulder, low-cut, halter neck, cross back, boob-tube – all without the bra straps showing!

5.   Sizing. What fits one boob doesn’t fit the other. My left boob is MUCH smaller, so if a bra fits the right one, there is a gaping effect, and if it fits the left, there is a bulge. Also, like all clothing, sizes differ between shops. Perfect symmetrical boobs are a MYTH (as far as I’m aware!) and the sooner we learn this, the better we can feel about ourselves.

6.   Health. There is no research to prove that bras are good for you. ‘Provides support’ is about as good as it gets. Research does suggest that wearing a bra is less beneficial, health-wise, than not wearing a bra.

7.   Bras bunch up the skin on your back. That’s definitely less attractive than nipple imo.

8.  Sweat. Bras on a hot day? The worst! Underboob/undermoob sweat is the bane of everyone's life, I'm sure of it.

9. Why not? Earlier this year, one of my male friends pointed out my “saggy tits” in a crop top I was wearing (without a bra). I’m pretty thick-skinned, but it got me thinking, is that the reason why I wear a bra? Because I want them to fit the conventions of 'pretty' perky boobs? Eventually, I convinced myself that I didn’t care at all if he thought my boobs looked saggy. ALL BOOBS ARE PRETTY! Yes, without a bra! And if you can afford to let those puppies free, then why not?

  It can be pretty daunting, the idea of people thinking your boobs look 'misshapen' because you aren't wearing a wire bra. So, I've assembled my transition-stage tips for people who don't want to go full commando but want to not wear a bra every now and then:

- Go for comfy bralettes/bandeaus/slouchy sports bras.
- If it’s still not working, just go for bras that are not underwire. That’s the bit that hurts and prevents natural muscle growth!
- Buy nipple covers if you’re scared of them showing.
- Use boob tape if you're scared of a slip on a night out or want them to hold in a certain way! The stuff is AMAZING.
- Buy tight tops. It might seem weird and more exposing, but, actually, these tops provide your boobs with more support than looser tops. I wear a lot of tight crop tops almost instead of a bra.

I would be lying if I told you that I went braless as much as Haze does: I don't. However, I definitely support these transitional tips. I am a huge advocate of slouchier bra options -- basically anything that doesn't have abrasive underwire I love. My days at university are usually jam-packed: I go to the gym, I work in a cafe which means I am always on my feet moving and lifting things, and you'll normally see me rushing across campus to catch my seminars. As a result, I live in sports bras and bralettes. I am so here for the gym-wear, sports tops, sports bras, and cute bralettes hype at the moment... purely for comfort reasons. 

Of course, for people like my step-mum and sister, not wearing a bra isn’t really an option. It’s far more uncomfortable for them to go without. Similarly, sport throws a spanner in the no-bra works: you just have to run down the stairs to know that big boobs and exercise can be a painful experience.  No, I'm talking about the day-to-day stuff, and for a lot of people, the ‘comfort’ that we get from bras is the habitual security rather than a genuine preference. I’m tired of people saying that going braless in an option exclusively for flat-chested people: I am a DD and it works for me.


Since my first "awkward" teenage bra-fitting in M&S with my mum, I had another (mature) fitting at Boux Avenue just over a year ago. I bought three bras from Boux after that fitting, but, sadly, I hardly wear any of them now. Not because I don't love them (ngl they are so beautiful, Boux does know how to make a gal feel sexy), but simply because my boobs fluctuate in size so much, mainly due to changing methods of contraception, so elasticated bralettes are my trusty alternative. 

When I changed contraception, I was annoyed that my boobs had changed in size, but now, to be honest, I am pretty content with myself. I am not anywhere near as worried about wearing a bra as I was in secondary school/ college. I enjoy letting my ribcage rise and fall without the constriction of a number around my waist and a letter on my breasts. I'm neither a 28 or 32, anymore. I just have boobs. Some days they're small, others big, some days they're uneven, some days I have one big and one small! And that's fine by me. 

We're not pretending to be a pioneers– a lot of people already go braless, to some degree. But since abandoning our Boux Avenue collections, we've hardly looked back. Sometimes there's a wobble, sure, but whether you have or haven’t considered trying it, here’s our wholehearted recommendation to rethink saggy as sexy and free your boobs!


Love,  

George & Haze xxx


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