Bras: To Wear, or not to Wear?

NYU students discuss why they are choosing to wear their bras or not.

Postcards with bra patterns in Strand Bookstore. (Photo by Bella Gil)

Do you remember getting your first bra? The long-anticipated or dreaded trip to the store with a trusted adult, sibling or friend may seem like eons ago. Some people cannot wait to ditch their training bras and get their hands on a padded one. Pink, blue, heart-adorned, star-spangled — the possibilities seem endless for an 11-year-old. However, as time goes on, many people — especially in college — end up ditching the aforementioned garment.

Perhaps it has to do with the bra’s meaning. For many, it was a sign of womanhood. But as they get older, some college students realize that bras don’t signify anything. However, it’s hard to act on this realization because for a long time, society has viewed going braless as unacceptable.

Gallatin junior Natalie Dogget admitted to once believing bras were a sign of her womanhood.

“I am kind of indifferent to them [bras],” Dogget said. “It’s weird because no one is necessarily telling you ‘Oh you have to buy a bra,’ but it is kind of implied that that’s what you have to do because if you don’t, then your nipples are always showing.”

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Nipple exposure is traditionally one part of why some want to wear a bra, however, movements such as #freethenipple have began to change these views. The movement started out as a way to focus on the “equality, empowerment, and freedom of all human beings,” though many women are uncomfortable revealing themselves in order to participate in the movement, and its influence remains limited.

Nevertheless, it has empowered many others to stop feeling obligated to wear their bras. Gallatin first-year Sofia Ko actively tries to find clothes that allow her to not wear her bra. 

It may seem as if there are a lot of people in New York City who are comfortable not wearing a bra, but the practice still isn’t entirely normalized. 

“I don’t think I can go braless. Although a lot of people don’t wear them, [it] is still not the majority,” Gallatin first-year Shivani Parulekar said.

While going braless is easy for some, some students pointed out there is a double standard when it comes to breast size. CAS junior Andrea Serrano was one such student.

“Boobs will be boobs. We need to stop stigmatizing girls with big boobs for looking more sexual to others,” Serrano said. “The fact that a crop top is fashion for a skinny girl yet is slutty on a thicker girl is disturbing and something we have to change the perspective on.” 

It seems that even if they are are interested in ditching the bra, it remains difficult for bigger-breasted people to do so without facing judgement. They and others who feel barred from going braless are stuck with being uncomfortable and well, broke.

When asked about the cons of wearing a bra, Gallatin junior Kavita Persaud offered a multitude:

“[Bras are] expensive as hell,” Persuad said. “I can never find my size, I don’t fit in Victoria Secret, half of the time they look like granny bras, they leave imprints all over, sometimes bruise me, they’re uncomfy, strapless ones fall down way too often, they show through clothing and did I mention expensive?”

Dogett agrees.

“I actually went through a phase where I didn’t wear a bra for like two years,” Dogget said. “It’s honestly just because they are very expensive. I remember I just didn’t want to pay for bras so I was like, ‘OK, I guess I won’t wear it.’ But I did start wearing them again because I do have bigger breasts.”

Perhaps there will be a day when anyone, no matter their breast size, can choose to go braless without fear of being judged or feeling uncomfortable. Until then, Rory Meyers sophomore Judy Wu reminds us:

“What I wear under is none of your business, like if I don’t wear a bra it’s not your business.”

Email Andrea Pineda-Salgado at [email protected]

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