I've been thinking a lot this week about how confident I actually am about bra-free living. Like actually.
And I'm afraid the answer was, "still not enough".
This, my friends, was because Loose Debra has been on Twitter lately and had the pleasure of making new acquaintances who really 'go for' the bra-free look, without so much as a by your leave to 'decency' laws and rampant sexist reactions. These are women who support @freethenipple and use the hashtag #boobsnotbombs and will no longer "censor their outfits out of fear". They will not kowtow to a society that deems female bodies more sexual in every context than mens. They defiantly declare "Your body is not an ornament, it's the vehicle to your dreams"*! I admire them profusely, and can only look on, in my blouson halter-neck, or my patterned jumper (which shouts loudly to deflect attention from my chest), with gratitude and love for their activist life-styles. They have a confidence, and are, nipple by nipple and free chest by free chest, changing our world.
In fairness to myself - and in order to earn my title here as Chief Freedom Fighter - I have to say that, much like Bon Jovi, I'm half-way there. A year ago I would get up in the morning, make a cup of tea automatically, check my phone automatically, put my pants and bra on automatically, and then brush my teeth. Guess which one is no longer automatic? (Wrong! Im still wearing pants!!). But seriously, I simply don't automatically reach for the bra anymore. I now have a selection of tops I feel comfortable wearing without a bra, and my days pan out subtly freer and easier. No bra marks from skin digging straps, no restrictions to movement in my upper body, no fear of lymph blockage. This is a habit I have changed, and therefore, strictly speaking, I have actually changed my life.
I'm hoping that by changing my buying choices, with a ruffle top here and pleated bib dress there, and spreading the Loose Debra message, I'm changing the world in a small but significant way.
There are many of us who don't need to wear a bra for any practical reason, but do it to conform to ideas of social acceptance and value. Certainly there are those of us who have had breasts removed and unreconstructed, but still wear a bra with protheses to 'feel more feminine' (although it can be hard to find natural looking ones out of natural materials - see Jane's recent Blog). I used to fall into the first category. I still occasionally don't have the social guts not to reach for a padded Wonderbra for a figure hugging dress. BUT, in my own small way, I'm taking action (nearly) every day to make myself a bit freer and the world a bit less inclined to judge negatively. So I think that maybe confidence is being happy to go as far as you want to go. Not slavishly putting on a bra to comply with social norms, but also not discarding the bra in all circumstances to earn the approval of Bra-Free Fundamentalists, for whom I have the utmost respect. If Loose Debra is anything (and I hope it is becoming something) then it is an idea, a place where we promote and encourage the FREEDOM to be yourself, while accepting every other different shade of freedom.
Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter
*declared by Taryn Brumfitt of the Body Image Movement