Style column: Body before bra

by Isabelle Lichtenstein / Beacon Correspondent • October 5, 2017

When I finally got my first bra, it was immediately uncomfortable and hard to wear. Upon clasping it together, I asked my mom if this was how they always feel, or if it was only because it was my first bra. She told me I would be stuck with this contraption for the rest of my life, restricting my movement and holding my chest solidly in place. Since that first bra, I’ve spent a lot of time angry over how terrible it is to cage my chest in with a bra every morning.

So when I discovered the braless trend, I was intrigued. Was it possible that I could wear an outfit with no bra underneath? The braless movement has become significantly more popular since I first heard about it in 2015, and there’s no real reason for its resurgence, but it has roots in both political and personal movements. This idea was initially so foreign to me that I actively avoided going braless. If someone I knew did it, I would try and ignore looking at them as much as possible. It made me uncomfortable, and I had no idea why. But as I looked more into the movement online and asked my braless friends why they decided to free their chests, I realized that going braless shouldn’t make people uncomfortable. In fact, it has nothing to do with other people at all.

Not wearing a bra is nothing new: The women’s liberation movement in the 1960s invented bra burning. Now, the eschewing of bras is just as significant of a political statement. When we live in a society that scrutinizes us for how our bodies look, choosing not to follow even one standard of beauty rocks the whole boat.

This is why the braless trend has picked up incredible support (no pun intended) at Emerson. The school has always had the reputation of being a stomping ground for those who question the status quo. Why should we have to follow the standards imposed on us by society? Whether that applies to every student at Emerson is up for debate, but one thing is universal here: Beauty is something to celebrate and be proud of, no matter how it is defined. We know that people of all genders, shapes, ages, races, and more can be beautiful by doing their own thing. Because of that, going braless makes sense. Embracing natural beauty is celebrating everyone. Rebelling against the system? Well, that’s celebrating Emerson.

Despite being a political statement for some, others simply prefer the feeling of not wearing a bra. This is just as good of a reason, especially considering that a study conducted by the University of Franche-Comte found that wearing bras from an early age does not, contrary to popular belief, help reduce back pain, support the chest, or reduce sagging. On the contrary, the study found that bras actually make breasts saggier and that people gain more tone and supporting breast tissue if they don’t wear a bra at all. This is what made me hop on the no-bra trend. Growing up, I was always told that bras were necessary. Knowing that it was actually healthier for my body to go without one made it an easy transition.

Although it was an easy transition for me, going braless is not always an option. Sometimes, going without one is simply uncomfortable. Whether you have breasts or not, a bra is a contraption that locks whatever you have in place almost too tightly, causing neck and back problems. Wearing a bra can also help with body dysmorphia. If you’re someone who feels more like themselves while wearing a bra, then who cares about trends? Do whatever makes you happy and comfortable.

Whether someone goes braless as a political statement or just because it’s comfortable, it has  become a big style in the fashion industry. Fashion trends tend to come and go, but I think this one will stick around. People deserve to be comfortable and to feel good when they’re getting dressed. Whether that comfort stems from wearing a bra or not, there should be the freedom to take the bra off and leave it off if you so choose.

Now, with people standing up against beauty standards and challenging the norms in this nation, I propose a stronger, more to-the-point movement: #BodyBeforeBra. Our mission statement is simple: “Wear a bra if you want, don’t if you don’t.” The current braless trend has its roots in comfort, so, just like a bra shouldn’t cage in its wearer, it shouldn’t be a requirement, either. Do what makes you feel best in your own skin.