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Those who know me know that my issues with my boobs are legendary. I don’t really hate my body anymore -- 6 years in the world of Fat Acceptance has helped with that -- but when it comes to my boobs, I find it impossible to see reason.
Considering that, it would be natural to assume that I spend a fortune on bras, finding the right ones that would transform my saggy, lopsided chesticles into a rack of glory. However, contrary to such expectations, I finally ditched bras altogether last week and switched over to thin cotton bralets with the intention of going entirely support free in the future. Here’s why.
My dissatisfaction with my boobs dates back to my teenage years when I wanted to be flat chested and androgynous (and skinny) and would wear minimizer bras even at a B/C cup in order to achieve that look. My boobs have never been particularly big, just saggy -- very much so -- spaced wide apart, and lopsided.
A relentless cycle of losing and gaining weight through numerous diets and a long bout of EDs in my late teens and early 20s left me with substantially bigger boobs than what I used to have, but on my broad, size 12/14, 5’8 frame, they still look positively tiny even at their current FF-cup dimensions. As I gained weight, I started wishing for bigger boobs -- after all, isn’t that supposed to be the only good thing about a fat girl’s body? I wanted cleavage, I wanted the kind of rack that lovers and potential lovers would drool over instead of just dismissing it with a casual “nothing wrong with those.”
At the same time, I would sometimes feel thankful for my modestly sized chest, especially when shopping for vintage clothing and fitting into things I would never have if I had huge boobs. I was torn, and I dealt with it by hating my boobs every time I saw them, and buying heavy duty, 3-hooked, matronly bras because I told myself that they would provide the best sort of support and it was not like anyone would want to see MY boobs in pretty lingerie, would they?
The bras hurt, though, they always hurt, even though they didn’t have underwires, and I would only wear them when I had to go out, preferring to roam braless and free when I was at home. I would buy a couple of those at a time, guessing at the size I should be wearing, and use them till they got holes in them and the hooks started coming apart.
This went on till September last year, when, roused to steely determination by the lingerie blogs I had discovered around then, I decided that it was time to do something about my sorry state of boob-y affairs. It was sparked by a chance remark from my ex, and the next day, armed with the substantial amount of bra-related knowledge I had gathered from those blogs, I stepped into a lingerie store known for catering to larger women, got fitted as a 36E, and bought my first underwired push-up bra.
I was delighted with the results -- never had my boobs looked so perky and gravity defying. Of course, the barrage of comments and emails I got from readers letting me know that I had been fitted incorrectly took away that feeling soon enough, and a couple of months later, I found myself getting fitted at what, reputedly, is the UK’s best bra fitting service for bigger boobs. It transpired I was a 36FF.
More bras were bought, tried on, exchanged and I ended up with three pairs that fitted -- one in a 36E, one in a 34GG, and one in a 36G. I told myself it was enough to be going on with, and so started my everyday wearing of underwired bras, all day, everyday, as I began my first dayjob.
And it was a nightmare. All day long, I would sit in my chair, tugging, pulling, adjusting, trying to find some way to be even a bit comfortable, but to no avail. Eventually I started going into work and taking off my bra in the toilet and stuffing it in my bag because it was unbearable.
I developed deep gouges on my sides from the band, scars that look to be permanent. My chest broke out spectacularly, horribly. All my life, ever since puberty, I have been plagued by facial acne, but never on my body. It was terrifying. And one day I decided that I had had enough. I couldn’t see the point of torturing and disfiguring myself the way I had been.
Every morning when the time came to get dressed and go out of the house, I would feel a deep sense of dread as I slipped the straps over my shoulders and hooked myself at the back. I didn’t understand why I was putting myself through this anymore. Why did I have to pretend that my body was something it inherently is not? Why was I still trying to render my body to be socially acceptable four years after I ditched my last pair of Spanx?
I quit shapewear because I couldn’t find myself on board with the idea that I had to restrict and confine my body to look like something it was not in order to be deemed acceptable. And it seemed to me that bras were just another form of shapewear -- it was just that instead of making my middle look thinner, they made my chest look bigger and perkier. My chest is neither big, nor perky, and I should not have to try and make it look like it is. Societal norms dictate that I do; societal norms dictate that I have miracle boobs that disregard gravity, that I have a flat belly and a pert bum. Societal norms that are devised to control womens’ bodies, to render them homogenous and “acceptable”.
I didn’t want to be controlled any longer. I didn’t want to give in to those dictates that police women's bodies and ultimately, women's lives. If my boobs are saggy, I wanted to let them sag to their heart’s content -- if they shocked a few people, good. If they disgusted some others, even better. I had been engaging in this public performance of shock, horror and disgust for the last 3 years by blatantly showing off my shapewear-less fat body in hotpants and minis without a care, and now my footloose and fancy-free boobs would be a part of that performance.
Very second-wave, I know, but somehow it makes perfect sense to me. Of course, there are people who need breast support -- my best friend is one of them. Her boobs are my size, maybe a bit smaller, but they are shaped very differently and even though she is as fat as me, her tiny frame makes bras a necessity for her, without which she gets chest and back pain. And then there are people who prefer to wear bras because they feel good in them.
But for someone like me, for whom bras had turned into a nightmare, and who likes it best when her boobs are constriction-free, I don’t see the point in continuing the torture. Ultimately, the decision whether to wear a bra or not should rest with ME. I don’t dress according to the comfort levels of other people -- if they choose to be disgusted by my body, they are free to do so -- but I will not comply with their desires concerning my person anymore.
These days I have been wearing thin, stretchy, cotton bralets because I have been so conditioned to feel undressed without something covering my boobs, I feel naked without that token piece of cloth. The bralets provide no support whatsoever and once I am wearing one, I can hardly feel it even at the end of the day.
Even so, my ultimate goal is to be completely bra free. I have done it in the past and not felt particularly uncomfortable, and I want to do it again, all the time. I won’t have an enviable rack, and I know I will draw stares, and possibly even commentary regarding my blog outfits on the lines of, “Oh, I wish she would wear a better bra!” but the decisions I make regarding my body are for me alone, and not for the satisfaction of others.
I am comfortable, I am happy, and I even think I look great in this far more natural silhouette. There is no reason why I should go back to that world of pain and scarring. This braless life is a good one.