Words on the Anniversary of Shedding My Bra
by Inge Meijer-Willemsen
"It has been one year.
One year since I shed!
A year of remembering how to let my own body carry
My beauty full gorgeous Breasts.
One year of reclaiming my thoughts on the taboo existing only in my mind.
Thou should not let them 'hang'
Thou should not carry them with pride
Thou should not let them move the natural way they flow
Thou should absolutely not create a single moment for others to see a nipple in any way thinkable
Thou should cover up these causes of invitation for staring, verbal comments/statements and clearly self-caused invitation for sexual energy crosses
Actions from others.
I got rid of all my breastholders, the suffocating, choking pieces of cloth presented as an extra body part, necessary for being a real woman.
I taught myself to walk up straight
Embracing the eyes of others
Embracing the resentment of others
Inviting myself to keep breathing
And let my beautyful breasts hang in pride.
Overwhelmed with feeling such a relief!
Enjoying the sensation of feeling free.
Proud of encouraging the Self Healing Potential of my body,
It's been one year.
And I feel Grateful, Graceful, Beautyful and full of Life and Love.
Reading Inge's words (above) on Facebook felt like a massive exhalation. They read like a huge celebratory sigh of relief: a tumbling, free-falling written version of those gifs that show a woman finally taking her bra off at the end of a long day, glass of wine in hand, feet up, on the sofa.
Inge is celebrating the anniversary of the day she "got rid of my breast holders" letting her breasts "hang in pride". She speaks of the relief and freedom she experiences one year down the line, and the realisation that previously-held taboos about going brafree were all in her mind. She's spent the last year successfully challenging the notions that breasts shouldn't hang loose, shouldn't be carried with pride, shouldn't move naturally; that nipples should be hidden, and that a woman should guard against inviting sexual comments or stares by wearing a bra.
I read it as a poem, but not one that obeys rules of metre, rhyme or even conventional spelling. Rather it revels in disdain for conformity and spills over into prose as it simply lets go. Not a perfect poem then, instead it's kicking 'perfect' up the taut arse and questioning the notion of a 'real woman'. The piece is just as it argues a woman's chest can be: no more, no less, unrestricted. It hangs perfectly in the ether, enjoying its truth...as the poet says, "full of Life and Love".
So who is the woman who wrote it? I sent a few questions to Inge in the Netherlands and below are her responses:
Why did you shed your bra?
Inge: A year ago I did a " Shed your Layers" weekend with Margo Awanata and Emilie Manawa. 14 brave gorgeous women shed their layers in safe, warm and loving surroundings. It was there I felt I no longer wanted to feel the pain in and around my beautyful breasts. I felt they needed to be able to breathe, to be how they naturally are. It felt like an absolute: Yes!
Do you have trouble choosing which tops/dresses to wear as a result?
Inge: It's not choosing the clothes that causes trouble but choosing another day of "not fitting in" and the definite possibility that I will be stared at, pointed at and hear whispers behind my back. This was especially the case in the beginning. When I notice such fear around me, (because I do see it as fear), I straighten my back, which means my breasts noticeably and proudly rise a little to show ‘Yes, this is my choice to live with my natural beautiful body’.
Has anything else changed concurrently (some people report feeling freer in their minds in general)?
Inge: I am in a process of accepting myself more every day, in/on every level I exist in. I am 36, and I finally live with myself. Not a "wanting to be like someone else". And I feel grateful that I have the opportunity to stand up, speak up and maybe even to inspire other human beings.
Do you usually write poetry? Why the urge to write?
Inge: (Smile) I use words to translate what my heart feels. I love to speak out. Sometimes it's on paper, sometimes the words turn into songs and I sing them with my guitar as my companion. Some people ask me what I write. Well, I am a Soul Singer. I love to write in English. It flows beautifully and can reach many people all over the world. I also love to write in Dutch. (I live in the Netherlands).
Did you feel any pain without a bra?
Inge: Actually not at all. It felt like a liberation for I had pain in and around my breasts as well as in my shoulders and lower back. Now, without a bra, my body can search for her natural strength. The muscles in my back, shoulders and even arms have renewed strength. I used to walk with my shoulders down to the front. If I do that now, auch!... everything hurts and my breasts move more which can be annoying. By walking up straight, my breasts are being carried on my chest, protected by my shoulders, not 'wobbling' - not in the least! It makes me feel good: I walk with a smile. No more suffocating fabric!
Do you feel discomfort when running/doing sports?
Inge: I practice kundalini yoga and can move in total comfort as I practice. I have no experience of running without a bra, except running and playing with our children for hours outside - no problem!
What advice would you give to any other larger-chested women who may be considering going brafree?
Inge: This is for all women: I ask, do you feel it is time to truly live Your Life? Are you ready to step into your Power and reclaim your own unique beautiful gorgeous body? Are you ready to see yourself for who you truly are? With or without a bra, are you living Your Life? Try it, feel what it does to You; what it means to You. I am wearing the same clothes as before but the way I wear them has changed. I feel proud. I feel grace. I feel greatfull. I feel like a Goddess. I feel like me. With love, Inge
Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter