I grew up in a conservative household where any mention of body parts was frowned upon. No swear word could pass my lips without getting a whack across the head or facing the steely stare from my mother. So, no need to tell you that as soon as I hit puberty, I had to keep my body well covered from neck to knees. Hiding the shape of my developing body and the appearance of my breasts was a necessity.
In those days I was too young to wear a fashionable bra. My mother had an aptitude at assembling pieces of fabric together in a flash. I was in awe of her talent when under a couple of hours, she would present me with a beautiful dress. I would then rush to school the next day to parade in front of my envious classmates. So, it was all more natural that my first brassiere would be one of my mother’s creations.
To my dismay, it was not a lacy number which I saw in the women catalogue. Shame on me for even thinking of bringing attention to the shapely roundness of my blossoming breasts. My first bra, a home-sewn body piece felt and looked like a corset stiffened with whale bones. I was mummified – tight, uncomfortable, a nightmare. I cried and pleaded but my mother tutted and said, “That will do.”
“Freedom lies in being bold” – Robert Frost
Years later, as soon as I could afford it, I bought my first sexy bra. From a wide range of designs and fabric, from La Senza to Victoria’s Secret, I could choose whatever I wanted. My mother’s eyes no longer bore into me and I could indulge in playing safe or being naughty. I no longer felt swaddled. I loved the soft lacy feel against my skin.
I learned about what went into the construction of underwear during my college years. I worked on designs commissioned by Berlei and created my own showpiece. I could not be prouder. It was only then that I appreciated all the efforts my mother put in my first bra. I regretted those unnecessary tantrums and sent her an apology.
When I first read about ‘bra burning’ in the 1960’s, I could not understand why those women protested about their femininity. They protested for equal rights because they no longer wanted to be known as housewives and mothers. But refusing to wear a bra because they believed a competition valued women’s bodies more than their brain . . . I am still confused. Doesn’t a woman love to feel beautiful and feminine?
“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” – Albert Camus
Over the years, while bras have remained part of women’s wardrobe, they are not a necessity. Depending on a woman’s breast size, a bra is worn either for comfort or to enhance her sex appeal. It is no longer a functional, restrictive garment.
There is no shame in going braless. It is a myth that not wearing bras would make our breast droop. Of course, they can improve our posture and prevent us from back pain if we are heavy-breasted. On the other side, not wearing a bra in the long run, can strengthen the pectoral muscles in the chest and redefine the breast shape in a better way.
The choice is ours rather than going along with what others tell us.
The day I ditched my bra was at the start of the pandemic when we went into lockdown, almost a year ago. In the beginning I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious as though I could hear my mother telling me to keep my breasts encased. But with the restrictions, I needed to find a balance between comfort and looking after my mental health. Looking sexy was far from my mind too.
Today going braless has become second nature. Maybe when the world returns to some form of normality, I could dig out my romantic, sexy lingerie but for now, I prefer to let my assets free.