Taking It Off

For some people, arriving at home after a long day means taking off their shoes or their pants. For me, it means taking off my bra.

A couple of years ago, I could have never imagined even writing about this. In between dance and school, my closet consisted of sports bras for dance and wire bras for school. No questions asked, because in my mind wearing bras was just the way things are supposed to be. I can’t specifically remember where this idea came from, whether it came from the media or my family. As a kid I just simply understood that at a certain moment in my life I would develop breasts and as a result I would need to start wearing a bra.

Women have been wearing bras in the Western hemisphere since the Romans were around. Women would tie bands around their breasts while they would exercise. And, since then bras have been modified to fit the standards of beauty of society at the time. For over 300 years, women had to wear corsets to make their curves more defined, like an hourglass. In the last century, bras have taken another step with technology. With the invention of spandex, sports bras were invented. (Learn more: Infographic). The point is that bras have always been imposed on women. The only real purpose of the bra is to be an object of modesty, to cover something that should not be seen. (Check out this video on the evolution of the bra in the Western world.)

In college, my horizons widened. I was no longer in patriarchal Latin America, but at Emerson College, a ‘liberal’ school. And in that sense, Emerson has changed me. It has taught me about social issues I had not experienced back home, such as systematized racism, or the fight for rights for the LGBTQ+. My time in college has also taught me a lot about myself, it has been my time where I get to decide what I like and don’t like. Also, being in a  school with such individualized ideals, and unique individuals, has reminded me that I am my own person. Being my own person includes the comforts of my breasts.

The movement and film Free The Nipple have played an influence in the way I understand how woman are censored. The statement of Free the Nipple states “we stand against female oppression and censorship, both in the United States and around the globe”. Today, in the USA it is effectively ILLEGAL for a woman to be topless, breastfeeding included, in 35 states. In less tolerant places like Louisiana, an exposed nipple can take a woman to jail for up to three years and cost $2,500 in fines. Even in New York City, which legalized public toplessness in 1992, the NYPD continues to arrest women. We’re working to change these inequalities through film, social media, and a grassroots campaign.”

I believe in micro-revolutions. The idea that change comes from within, that a rebellious action can sometimes go far. That’s why I decided to ditch the bras: the push ups, the wires, the too tight sports bra. I decided I was just going to stop wearing bras that did not fit comfortably on me, even though Victoria’s Secret kept hinting at me. All the bras I had that made me feel constricted were shoved to the back end of the drawers. I bought bra-lettes. The fancy version of training bras. The first time I tried one on, it was like wearing a very comfy oversized sweater.

When as a woman, you realize that you have a responsibility of questioning the “way things are supposed to be”, you become empowered. You begin to see possibilities when there were rules before. Finding alternative options to the bra (or none at all!), has proven to be a successful rebel act for me. It’s not just about the bra, it’s about having options. It’s about owning my body. It’s about making the choices that are best for me, and that should not be mandated by society or the media.

Living in the digital age is hard. Information is overwhelming. Too many ideals of who we need to be. By taking off the bra, I have also taken off the pressure of living up to many unrealistic standards imposed on women. Now, I’m a rebel. And I love it. You should try it too. Take it off, and love your body.

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