Thanks to Cindy for the nice letter below. I must say that above and beyond the obvious benefits to us men when women can go braless, I do think it's a non-trivial issue of personal liberty and personal comfort. Many years ago I worked as a porter in a large nursing home, and the director decided that I was not allowed to wear shorts in the hot summer. And they were not even short-shorts, they were quite modest, despite the fact that I have excellent legs. :) (The shorts were modest, I'm not.)
Since all the women were allowed, this was obviously discrimination (though not so obvious that I had given it a thought), and a sub-director, one of the few male nurses, went "to the mattresses" on the issue. It ended with me being allowed to wear shorts of a certain length, so long as they did not have any bright colors! (Thinking back on it, I'm guessing that rule was put in so the director could save face about backing down.)
Apropos... this poem is by Robert Herrick and was first published in 1648:
Upon Julia's Clothes
WHENAS in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes!
Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!
My husband is a frequent visitor to your site and has shared with me some of the letters in your newsletter section. He has convinced me to write this letter.
When I was 18 years old, I was shy and self-conscious, like many girls my age. My 34B breast size did not help matters. I remember cursing Mother Nature for not making me more well-endowed as my larger breasted classmates in high school seemed to get the attention of boys much easier than I. At least, that's what I blamed it on at the time.
I remember my first day of college at a large university in the Southeastern United States. Freshman Orientation began in the beginning of September, but it was still very hot. The dorms were old and thus had no air conditioning. My poor Dad carried most of my stuff up to my 3rd floor door room. I'm not sure if his heart was racing from the labor or from seeing hundreds of young women in tank tops. I could tell that it was an emotional moment for him to see his daughter start college, but he contained himself. Later he told me that he didn't want to be the dad that embarassed his daughter.
The university assigned a volunteer upperclassman to groups of freshman to help orient them to the university. Julie was assigned to mentor my group, which included my roommate Sara and the two girls in the room next door. Julie was on the university swim team and perhaps the most outgoing person I have ever met in my life. She talked to us as we unpacked, and then out of the blue said "It's just way too hot to wear a bra in this heat, you need to loose them." Sara and I looked at each other, unsure of how to react. I shyly mentioned that I was wearing a thin white T-shirt. Julie then said, "Are you worried someone might see your goodies, like this?" and lifted up her T-shirt while shaking her torso back and forth. Sara and I laughed, as it was quite unexpected and funny. I was amazed she had the confidence to do that, as she was about my size. Well, after that pep talk, Sara and I removed our bras. Julie got the rest of the group to do the same.
As our group walked around campus braless, it felt great. We turned a few heads, but I always assumed they were looking at the other girls.
A few months later, I met a nice guy. As we were fooling around, his hand started to go under my shirt. Still a little self conscious, I remember telling him "There's not a whole lot there, I hope you're not disappointed". His response was "Well, let me see". After taking a look, he quickly said, "Are you kidding? I think they're awesome". That one enthusiastic reply shot my self-confidence through the roof, and I will always appreciate that gift he gave me. Unfortunately, unlike some of your stories, I did not end up marrying that young man and had to settle for my current husband. (That's just a joke planted in case my husband reads this letter.)
Nowdays, even though I am 36 with two children and living the hectic life that most parents live, I still go braless all summer (except for than formal events and work). The body isn't quite as good as it was 18 years ago, but it's still fun. I always think of Julie and smile. My wish is that all young women avoid the trap of being overly self-conscious about their bodies. I know this sounds trite, but all humans are true works of art. By the way, I do like the fact that you show smaller breasted women on your website. :)
I always wondered why we let ourselves be trapped into being obligated into wearing a bra.
When I was younger, I assumed it was a modesty thing. Parents wanted their daughters to dress modestly, in hopes that it would prevent them from being promiscious. As women grew up, they resented women that did not conform to this modesty standard. I guessed that perhaps since a braless woman might attract more looks from men, that the braless woman is seen as a threat to the modest woman's chances of attracting a mate. To combat this, the modest woman (and society) will claim the braless woman is of questionable moral character, etc. I saw evidence of this throughout my life. Not wearing a bra would attract more male attention, but some of the males would assume that I was automatically "easy". Some thought not wearing a bra on a date was a guaranteed invitation to sex, despite the fact it was the norm for me.
The first time I came home from college, I didn't wear a bra. My mother noticed and questioned me. I just said that it was more comfortable, I didn't need one anyway, and it saved on laundry. She laughed but tried to convince me that I "looked better" with one on. Fortunately, she dropped the subject, but I think it did bother her at first.
Anyhow, after my first child was born, I gained a different perspective. I breast fed both my children and I could not believe how hostile Americans are to breast feeding. I refused to be confined to the bathroom or back room to feed my child. Since I had the special shirts and put a blanket over the child's head, nothing was exposed 99% of the time. The only time something was exposed was if the baby pulled the blanket off accidently. Still, even when completely covered, I had strangers approach me and say things like "Gross", "Do you have to do that here?", etc. One woman even called the mall security on me. The security guard unsuccessfully tried to make me leave the bench I was feeding my child on, on the basis that it made people "uncomfortable".
I told him to go ahead and call the police if I was breaking any laws. :) The breast feeding experiences made me question Western society's views of the female breast even more. After all, I was just feeding my child. That's what breasts are for, right? It certainly isn't a sexual act. I'm not sure where this hostility comes from, as I am not threatening anyone's mate selection (the modesty theory above). I still haven't figured this one out yet. I don't want to dwell on this topic, as it is probably of little interest to you and your readers, but thankfully there are support groups to help young mothers deal with all this nonsense. I was also lucky to have a husband that was 100% behind my decision and was never embarassed when I had to feed my child.
As a final footnote, I really enjoyed the letter you printed about 6 weeks ago about the man who took a picture of his wife and baby and proudly displayed it on his desk. I wish we'd had the foresight to take such a great picture during that stage of our lives.
But back to the main topic, I don't know why bras are considered a "requirement". I am trying to do my little part to change that, but I must admit that I still don't have the nerve to go to work without a bra. I work in a male dominated office, so I am concerned about their perception affecting my career. I have bumped into a few of them at stores, while doing my weekend braless routine, and I get all kinds of crazy reactions, from "sneaking a peak without her noticing" to shock. I do have to agree with many of your letters that humans let themselves become way too sexually repressed, and that the human body is a very natural thing.
From Gregory D:
In light of today's DOMAI newsletter, I just wanted to pass along this short but humorous quip that I remember seeing in an episode of Grouch Marx's show "You Bet Your Life":
Called "Guessing Game", it was written by the Dean of an Eastern College--rather surprising for the late 1950s:
It's hard to know what to deduce
From girls who wear their sweaters loose
You sometimes can't be sure you're right
Even when they wear them tight
"Just for fun I scanned the free pictures page of the DOMAI website. VERY generous. Lots of pictures. High quality. For the freebie seekers its the mother load. But I looked at those pretty girls and thought, The other 30 or 50 pictures from that set were just as good. Those guys dont know what theyre missing. The free stuff, good as it is, doesnt come close to what a membership gets you. I never regret my DOMAI membership. So much for so little." - Frank H <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[e-mail address used with permission]
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