Why Haven’t I Worn A Bra In 6 Months?
In my creative writing class a year ago, I wrote a poem that sparked a new chapter of my life. It was titled “I’m Not Wearing A Bra Today,” and I will never forget the slight discomfort in one of the guy’s faces as I spilled out my utter disdain for bras. As the words slipped off my tongue, “Feared there would be an uproar/The slight bounce of my breasts more defined/Have others mouths open wide/Gasp in horror/to see tits not crushed by the patriarchy” — I felt the ringing of a revolution within myself. It brought me back to my awkward prepubescent youth.
I was first budding into my “womanly” self at 9 years old. This made me a circus act spectacle for everyone in the classroom to gawk at. I was the only girl that had to wear a training bra. The only girl who couldn’t wear spaghetti straps during the Long Island summer months because “my bra would be showing.” As if the girl who sat alone in her room for hours with her books and her Dell desktop computer wanted any more attention on her. Why was I, at nine years old, already so self-conscious over a part of me I barely understood? Most importantly, why was every adult I came into contact with so obsessed over this excess growth on my chest?
Fast forward to my first date, circa 2009 — I’m still 4'11 and three-fourths, shoulder-length black hair, and fully endowed. My friends had to come on my first date because my parents wanted my boyfriend at the time and I to be watched over carefully. I come from an Italian family, so over-protectiveness was a virtue. Anyways, all I knew was that I had to hide my boobs. I wore a smaller sized bra because I hoped that somehow this would make them less noticeable. I wore close to a turtle neck on the date to ensure that Mt. Breastmore wouldn’t erupt. I thought I was booby-trap proof. The whole crew (my five friends, my date, and I) were sitting in the Island 16 movie theater arcade in complete silence — my friends decided to try to break the ice. But little did they know this would be a joke that would live in infamy.
They waited for the moment that I bent down to pick up an arcade token I dropped to throw a penny down the slightest opening of my shirt collar. SCORE! Down my shirt went the penny. Well, I ran away to the bathroom when that happened and cried. From that moment forward, my chest would be my ultimate enemy in life because I couldn’t escape it being a topic of conversation.
I was told that my breasts would be the reason boys would like me. I was told that it’s a compliment if I catch men staring at my chest and a bonus if women did too. They all asked if I could share a part of my chest with them. Guys never stopped asking what my cup size was. My breasts were a “gift,” that I had “better learn to appreciate” because they will come to use someday. But it was always something I had to monitor because with a gift comes responsibility. I was just a 14-year-old kid that wanted to focus on something other than my sex appeal.
Boys didn’t treat me better because of my breasts — to be frank, they treated me worse. My breasts made up for my chubby legs, not flat stomach, and not-so-gracious curves. They only made everything that wasn’t as “sexy” easier to tolerate.
And to my young self who fed into this hellish cycle of nights self-shaming and darker days of self-scrutiny; to the constant whispers from your inner demons telling you to show a little bit of skin but not too much because if you don’t — you’re nothing; I say, to hell with every one of them for taking your mind away from the friends who will love you more for your heart than your chest. To those who ate your brain from your beautiful words and thoughts — good tittdance.
I don’t wear a bra today, or any day, because I am happier without these specific chains. It’s only up to me to decide when and where I wear a bra. My body, My Breastifesto. And I close with a line from that poem, “I finally let my tatas sing/and it’s time for us to sing along.”
Originally published at www.theodysseyonline.com on June 6, 2016.