by Nina Hufman
Boobs, tits and knockers, oh my! Half the world’s population has boobs, myself included, and for many of us that means being subjected to the torture of wearing a bra. Straps dig into your shoulders, underwire slides out and stabs you, tight bands squeeze your ribs, and all for what? So my boobs will look good? They’re boobs babe, they always look good.
I was so annoyed by bras that I chose to stop wearing them entirely. Many Cal Poly Humboldt students have done the same. Bras are becoming obsolete and bralessness is trending, particularly on our campus.
Many students with boobs are choosing to go braless in the name of comfort and empowerment. Somerset Dwyer, an art major, hasn’t worn a bra in four years. She said that going braless has helped her feel more comfortable in her own skin.
“My boobs definitely don’t sit super high up,” Dwyer said. “I feel like wearing a bra is always a thing, like ‘oh they look like this when I’m wearing a bra,’ and then I feel super insecure when I’m not. It was just kind of freeing to not [wear a bra].”
Dwyer is not alone in her thinking. Kaya Knutzon, a business major with a studio art minor, feels like not wearing a bra has helped her embrace her natural features.
“When I was younger, I was very obsessed with looking like the people that I would see on social media,” Knutzon said. “I would wear Lulu Lemon leggings and try to make my 13-year-old self look like I had boobs. I thought that the ideal was to have big boobs that sat up to my chin.”
Knutzon came to the realization that she no longer wanted to strive to look like other people.
“If bras didn’t exist, what would I look like completely naturally?” Knutzon asked. “I just like feeling completely like myself, I’m not trying to change anything, it feels very empowering.”
“For the longest time I didn’t want to wear a bra, but I felt like I had to,” said Kimberly Madrigal, a journalism major. “I don’t feel so sexualized, I don’t have to care about trying to look good.”
In contrast to these feelings of empowerment, students have also experienced judgment for choosing to not wear bras. No shocker there, what aren’t women judged for? Students most commonly receive scathing looks, uncomfortable comments, and stares from older people, even their own families. Brianna Reynolds, a zoology major, has had her bralessness commented on by her grandmother.
“The older generation, when I’m out and about, tend to stare,” Reynolds said.
Dwyer has had similar experiences. Boys in her peer groups in high school would point out when she was not wearing a bra.
“It’s like, okay, yeah, you’re looking at my tits, that’s fine,” Dwyer said.
Of course, bralessness isn’t perceived the same for everyone. People with bigger boobs often receive more judgment from others than those with smaller boobs.
“I do have a bigger chest and I still choose not to wear bras,” Knutzon said. “I can tell that I have a very different experience overall than my friends who have smaller boobs. When I do it, it is just overall more evident.”
Dwyer compared bralessness to other fashion trends, pointing out the fatphobia and body exclusivity that often comes with trending styles.
“With the 90’s you had the ‘heroin chic’ with those super super skinny models with the Calvin Klein boxers and the white tank top,” Dwyer said. “That was super awesome, but probably at the same time if someone with a larger body had been doing that it wouldn’t have been viewed in the same light, which is indicative of a lot of our perspectives on bodies.”
Some students with bigger boobs don’t feel comfortable going braless. I made a post on Yik Yak asking if anyone would be willing to talk to me about this topic.
“Well I wish I didn’t have to wear a bra but I have to because I have big boobs,” one commenter said. “If I don’t, they will sag and cause back problems when I am old.”
Of course it all comes back to age. We as women are taught to fear aging because we are no longer seen as shiny, new, and desirable. We are told that age strips us of our value.
“I’m a little bit afraid of aging,” Dwyer said. “There’s that fear of losing your youth, this young beauty that you have. My mom always talks about that. She looks at photos of herself and is like, ‘oh I used to be so beautiful.’”
But Dwyer sees the beauty in age and in embracing her body.
“You’re still beautiful, it’s just, you’re older, you’ve grown into yourself,” Dwyer said. “I think that it’s kind of a decision for yourself, if you want to succumb to what you consider being old or you can, you don’t have to give anything up in terms of age.”
The women that I talked to felt a sense of community here. They see other people choose to go braless and it has inspired them, and they feel comfortable going braless on campus.
“Seeing other people doing it, other women, it just made me more comfortable,” Madrigal said.
I only talked to four women for this story, but they represent people with boobs around the world who are constantly having to fight to have agency over their own bodies. Small things like dressing how we want or not wearing a bra helps us reclaim some of that agency. It is empowering to have a community of people all performing these small acts of liberation.
“Most of my friends don’t wear bras at all,” Knutzon said. “It’s something that’s been very reaffirming, I can talk to them about having weird circumstances and I can have people who relate to it.”