Societal pressures make not wearing bras difficult for women

Christine Gendy
Opinion Staff Writer
cgendy@unca.edu

In a world of ever-changing politics and seemingly constant violence, the last thing on a woman’s mind should be the fear of judgement over not wearing a bra.

Many women, for a number of different reasons, decide not to wear a bra on a day-to-day basis.

“I feel like since bralettes came out, I wear bras more often, but there are definitely times where I won’t wear a bra, it depends on the shirt,” said Emma Friedman, a sophomore art student at UNC Asheville.  

Whenever I choose not to wear a bra, the main reason behind it is comfort. Often, it is more comfortable for me to not have to deal with straps digging into my shoulders or having the straps fall off altogether than to wear one out of societal pressures. The amount of times I have to re-adjust my bra throughout the day alone is reason enough to want to discard every one I own and encourage other women to do the same if they are having a similar experience.

Since bras are not tailor-made to fit each woman’s unique body shape, the discomfort often comes from standard bra sizes not fitting correctly.

According to Racked, clothing sizes are an inexact science across all articles of clothing, but in bras especially. Bra sizes are calculated using a measurement of the rib cage and how far the breast extends beyond that measure.

Manufacturers began to sell bras in standard sizes such as 34A, 36B, and so on after the turn of the 20th century, according to Racked. As a way to determine how bras should be sized and in an attempt to find the average breast size, a study of 10,000 middle and lower class American white women’s measurements were taken. This of course did not paint an accurate picture of how women were and are sized in America.

Through media and societal influences, women are pressured into wearing bras on a daily basis. Photo by Nick Haseloff.

Even though a great deal of time has passed since this study was conducted and we know more now than ever about how diverse bodies are, no impactful change is being made to the sizing system. Women everywhere settle for a size that may not be the best fit for them simply because they have no other option.

Not only are bras ill-fitted to the average bust, but they are a bust to the bank. One would assume that since bras are made up of less material than, say, jeans or tops, they would be cheap to produce and buy. This would be incorrect in most cases. Bra prices can range from 10 dollars at stores like Target and Walmart to over 200 dollars at luxury stores like La Perla.

According to Teen Vogue, the reason bra prices can skyrocket is because of how specialized a practice it is to make lingerie. A bra has to be designed to be sturdy, soft, durable and supportive. It is so specialized that you can actually get a four-year degree in lingerie design.

Whenever I have decided to purchase an expensive bra that does not fit me the way I would like it to, the only occasions in which I’ll wear it are when I feel a certain pressure.

“I feel more pressured into wearing a bra when I go home or into more public spaces. Like if I went to the mall I’d feel more pressured, just because I feel like there are less people I can trust to be comfortable around and not be judged or harassed,” Friedman said.

It almost makes you ask, who are we wearing a bra for? Are we wearing them for our own comfort or for the comfort of those around us who see disgrace in an unstrapped breast? I see it as the latter.

I remember the times in which I felt more comfortable not wearing a bra. I’ve heard people deem my body inappropriate and sneer at my supposed sexual perversion. A woman should never feel ashamed for anything that naturally occurs on her body. This includes her breasts, armpit hair, leg hair or anything that society considers shameful.

A woman’s body is not something to picked apart or observed in a purely sexual manner. Women should not be held responsible for the ways in which others view them.

Be that as it may, just because myself and others I know feel more comfortable at times not wearing a bra, this by no means dictates how other women should feel about wearing one. For some, wearing a bra can make them feel secure and offer them the support they need.

Bras certainly serve a purpose, but before someone should decide to wear one, they should make sure they are wearing it for themselves and not for the sake of anyone else.

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