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The Day I Went Braless
I remember when I first started teaching yoga in 2003 and I would simply wear a tank top and no bra. I didn’t give a shit. My perky breasts didn’t need much else. And while my breasts are still fairly perky (I attribute yoga to some of the reason) my bosoms are now kept in place with either a sports bra or a regular bra. I seldom go braless.
And the reason is less about my breasts and more about my nipples. They love to stand at attention and it doesn’t need to be cold. So when a student shared a few weeks back at a body image and sexuality workshop I was co-facilitating that she is a teacher and doesn’t wear bras any more I was fascinated.
My mind was saying “But your a teacher! Doesn’t that mean you must wear a bra??” I went to that immediate right/wrong place that I was raised in. This is how you do things. This is how you do not do things. Case closed. But this women’s no bra choice was a part of her rebellion. It was her way of making her own choice and not subscribing to the patriarchal constructs in place that tell us that (especially as women) we need to BE a number of certain ways that are considered socially acceptable.
And while I admired this SO much I felt pretty certain that it wouldn’t work for me. Those were the words I used at dinner the other night when I recalled the story. “I don’t think I could ever do that!” Little did I know I’d get the chance less than 24-hours later!
I was at an outdoor festival and stumbled upon this amazing galaxy dress that I bought right off the mannequin after I tried it on in their portable dressing room that I almost toppled over in while trying to get my shoes off. I had made the mistake of wearing jeans that day so I decided to wear the dress instead. There was just one problem. I didn’t have a bra.
Now yes, technically I was out without a bra but the shirt I was wearing was a tweed vest that basically acted like a corset. Those puppies were locked and loaded with not a trace of nipple. On the contrary, this dress was thin. It left nothing to the imagination. While you couldn’t see through it, you could see my breasts plainly. Especially when I was dancing.
So I just let myself roam the festival in the most comfortable dress ever made, boobies frees as birds and it was fine. Until I started dancing. Well to be more specifically, until I was dancing and this dude was straight up filming me. (Side rant: People, PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY!!! Be present for the love of God! Are you really going to watch that video of that stranger ever again? Probably not.) I suddenly felt vulnerable. Exposed. Sexualized.
And part of me didn’t care. In fact I didn’t even know until Nick (my partner) saw him doing it and starting dancing in a silly way to block his shot. (Side praise: that moment could have easily cause a fight. Instead Nick used his gift of humor and grace to diffuse the situation.) But until that moment I didn’t even know there was a problem. And would it have bothered me if it didn’t bother Nick? I’m not sure. All I know is that suddenly I felt on display.
There was a moment when one of my favorite old school jams came on and I started dancing full out and dude started filming again and I didn’t care. But that was short lived. The interesting thing was when I talked to Nick. My take was that dude was filming me solely because of my boobs and my ass shaking about. Nick’s take was that dude thought I could dance and yes my jiggling sweetened the deal. Of course I will never know and it doesn’t really matter.
What’s most interesting to me is the repercussions of my choice. I chose to go braless, some guy filmed me dancing. It made me feel uncomfortable. Why? I’ve been filmed and photographed before. And if I had a bra on I may not have cared. But the fact that my breasts were more exposed made a difference. It felt like a raw piece of me. It felt like that was all someone else could see of me. My breasts.
I’m still unpacking this as it just happened this weekend. But I do find it fascinating. And I’m not going to lie. Next time I wear that dress it will most likely be with a bra. Not as a complete reaction to that experience but because I just like the way my breast look in bra. But I am happy I had the chance to go without. To feel those feelings. To, for one day, rebel in this particular way. I know there are still a lot of ways that I buy into the conditioning and rules around how women are “supposed” to present themselves. For me, it’s one day at a time and every rebellion counts.