I have always had large breasts. I can remember having them as early as 11-years-old. I’m talking thick strap, grandma lookin’, triple D sized specialty bras big. I also experience the endless back pain that accompanies large breasts. Because of my breasts, I have also experienced what seems like an infinite amount of both body shaming and body policing. Predators have harassed me from the time I entered the fifth grade to the present. This included predatory male teachers who sexualized me, to a white conservative mother calling me a hussy. All because of my body—a body I was once uncomfortable with. The summation of these ideals and the mistreatment I received because of my body created a perpetuation of self-hate and shame that followed me into my early twenties, when I received a secondary education and realized that all the shaming and policing was not only ridiculous, but incredibly oppressive. Finally, in the last few years I have learned to make a point to purposely disregard and dismantle the thoughts and ideas that others, as well as myself, have held about my curvy body and large breasts. I have made the decision to go braless, and I have learned to take time to worship my own body to combat the oppressive shaming I am constantly subjected to. Breaking away from this oppression has given me a certain freedom and love for myself, and it grows all the more.
Recently I posted a picture of myself braless on social media, and a woman messaged me to lecture me. She wanted me to know that I was a role model for her daughter and that I needed to cover myself and put clothes on. While I don’t understand how living my life as a free, oppression-rejecting adult who loves herself and embraces her body, is causing anyone harm, I know enough to not perpetuate a terrible, toxic way of living, so I ignored her. But I am not shocked that somehow my love of self makes others uncomfortable enough to consider me as an unworthy and inappropriate role model for their children. Because of my body, I’ve been through a lot, and experienced a lot of body policing, but his devastating incident reminded me of one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. When I was in tenth grade, my Spanish teacher angrily singled me out in the middle of our studies, and pulled me into the hallway. I was terrified because I was the good student with great grades and I saw no reason for the sudden anger being directed towards me. When I met with her she proceeded to yell at me for ten minutes about my visible bra strap, and began to list all the reasons why it was an issue. Apparently the apparatus that helped support my very large breasts, was distracting to the boys in the classroom and was causing a disruptive learning environment. I didn’t know that it was possible to get in trouble for having large breasts. I didn’t know my body and bra strap could cause a distraction.
After experiencing so much shaming and push back about my breasts, for me, not wearing a bra is not only a suggestion from my doctor to ease my back pain– It isn’t just a statement to say no more oppression, it is a personal fight for my liberation. It is me putting my foot down to the patriarchy and saying ‘no more’. It’s a way to say to my body, which has endured constant shaming, that I love, cherish, and respect it if no one else will.
Going braless is a way to combat dress codes, which are rules designed to protect and aid male-identified people, which by extension, is supporting the concept that womxn are an auxiliary gender, which we are not. I go braless to teach my sister to take pride and accept the body which was awarded to her and her only. I go braless to dismantle this patriarchy that assumes that if a person has breasts, they must spend extra money and time to keep them looking an acceptable way, usually to benefit men. I go braless to let future generations know that they are the rulers of their bodies, and they do not have to be regulated by a system. A system which sits and waits to prey on them from the second they exit the womb.