What happened when one 23-year-old freed much more than the nipple.
There was a time when I really loved my boobs. In high school, I wore a C cup, and my breasts filled out my triangle bikini tops and form-fitting V-neck shirts perfectly.
As the years passed, my breasts continued to grow. Eventually I was a DD cup. Cute swimsuits and tops were difficult to come by, and I felt lucky to find a simple underwire bra that supported my chest well. I watched in envy as friends wore tops and dresses I could not. Because of societal standards, I felt like my big boobs could never look good in a strapless top. Like so many other women, I was taught that large breasts should be covered and supported behind clothes.
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But recently I started to wonder: Just because my breasts were not small and perfectly perky didn’t mean I was literally barred from going braless, right?
I'm a writer, and after I wrote an article about a woman who used her social media account to make the point that saggy breasts are natural and normal, I decided it was time to face my boobs. What would happen if I threw my bras to the wind and went about my day with my natural boobs freed from bras and loose tops? I knew this experiment would push my comfort levels with my body to the edge, but that’s exactly why I wanted to do it. If I could go five days without a bra, I thought, the next time I wanted to wear a cute dress or top without one, I wouldn’t feel the same hesitation I normally do.
Day 1: My bra-free week begins
My parents were visiting today for brunch, so I decided to begin my launch my foray into bralessness with a fire-engine red, high-neck body suit, high-waist black jeans, and a denim jacket over top (because I was not trying to flash my nipples in a restaurant at 9 a.m.).
I’m no stranger to bodysuits: They’re a go-to choice for a night out with friends. But I’d never considered wearing one on an average day, especially sans bra. Once I had my outfit on though, it felt incredibly freeing to walk down the street this way. No one seemed to notice my lack of bra, and soon I forgot about it too.
In the evening, I switched to another bodysuit for a night out with friends. This one was striped and off the shoulder. When I first put it on, I could feel my worst big boob-related fear bubbling up: sagginess. Since this bodysuit didn’t feature thick straps like my others, I didn’t have the usual support I’m used to, and it felt so weird.
I reminded myself that natural-looking breasts are totally normal, gave myself a quick pep talk in the mirror, and decided to stick with my outfit choice. Once I arrived at the party, I confided in a friend about my experiment. “That’s awesome!” she told me. She also said that she didn’t even notice my lack of bra. Whether she was telling the truth or not, I felt way better about my decision.
Day 2: 'My boobs were flapping in the wind'
After yesterday's success, I decided to try something bolder. Instead of wearing a tight bodysuit that really strapped my breasts in place, I opted for a flowy V-neck spaghetti-strap top under a cardigan. The total lack of support made it feel like my boobs were flapping in the wind. The entire time I walked down the street, I kept adjusting my jacket to make sure I wasn’t exposing myself to the public. Is this more of a hassle than wearing an actual bra? I thought to myself.
At dinner, I dropped my fork and leaned down to pick it up. When I sat back up, I remembered I was braless and scrambled to readjust my top. Neither of my friends seemed to notice I was without bra. It was nice to not have bra straps tugging at my neck and shoulders or peeking out under the thin straps of my top. And when I got home, I didn’t feel the need to rip off my shirt and bra immediately because…I wasn’t wearing one. Score.
Day 3: Going braless at the gym and at work
I dreaded Day 3’s arrival for a couple of reasons. First, I planned to try working out without a bra. Any woman with larger-than-average breasts knows any type of physical activity requires a supportive, well-fitting bra for comfort. I’d spent years of my life (yes, years) searching for the right sports bra for my chest. So going without a bra at all scared the crap out of me.
But I signed up for a 6:30 a.m. cycling class and headed to my local gym. I threw on the tightest workout crop top I owned and prayed to the boob gods that all would be fine. And miraculously, it worked.
I felt amazingly free during my class because I didn’t feel the need to adjust my top once, like I usually do with my bras. Plus, thanks to the design of my chosen workout top, my breasts felt supported enough to make it through the medium-impact class. I don’t think taking a Zumba class or doing HIIT would have worked for this experiment, but I’m happy to know I can do select workouts without needing underwire.
After class, I showered and got ready for the second most dreaded part of the week: going to work braless. As a well-endowed woman, I never imagined entering corporate America without a bra on. Still, I came up with a strategic outfit that I hoped would hide my bralessness while also looking professional. I chose a tight, high-neck T-shirt with colored horizontal stripes and wore it underneath a bomber jacket to hide any potential nipple-erection scenarios. I paired it with flared jeans and loafers to dress up the look a little and headed to the office.
The first thing I noticed was that my typical boob sweat was drastically minimized. After a whirlwind commute, I usually work up a bit of a sweat and can feel it puddling in the area between my breast and the underwire (TMI, but someone had say it). With my braless getup, though, I had almost no boob sweat. Paired with the bomber jacket, co-workers didn’t seem to even notice I was going braless for the week.
Day 4: More comfort, less stress and strain
I woke up feeling really excited for another day freed from my bra. I chose a black bodysuit with a flowy maxi skirt and a leather jacket over top (because once again, cold nipples). I noticed my confidence was up all day as I was becoming more accustomed to going braless.
Existing in the world without a bra is so comfortable. I didn’t have to adjust digging straps, account for boob sweat, or deal with any other annoying bra-related struggles, which made me forget at times I even had boobs. Once I got past my fear of how I looked to others and found outfits that fit my style and comfort level, everything was, well, great.
Day 5: Rocking body confidence
On the final day of my braless experiment, I felt a little sad. I wasn’t ready to reintroduce my boobs to their wire cage. I pulled out my red bodysuit from Day 1 and paired it with tailored, cropped pants and a blazer for a professional take. When I looked in the mirror, I felt like I could go into a presentation or important meeting and totally rock it despite not wearing a bra.
When I got home, I took off all of my work clothes except with red bodysuit. Instead, I wore it as I cooked dinner, watched television, and prepared for the next day. I’m going to miss this, I thought. But then I remembered: I could go braless whenever I want because they’re my breasts—and I can dress them in whatever I damn well please.
After five no-bra days, it’s safe to say my experiment definitely worked. I now feel more confident rocking tops that society would normally tell big-chested women they should never wear. I also feel more connected to my body. Without a bra to strap my breasts down, I felt more of the natural movement of my chest.
On the other hand, going braless also made me forget about my boobs entirely at times—a luxury I’d never experienced before. Going about your day without constantly thinking about what your chest looks like to others or how uncomfortable your bra is making you feel means you have more time to worry about the things that matter.
While I haven’t tossed my bras in the garbage, I will continue going braless more often than I did before this experiment—to work, to the gym, anywhere I feel like going. The comfort is unparalleled, and it's helped me confront and move past insecurities about my body.