Just go without a bra, right? Well, it's not quite that simple. Here are some tips on why you'd want to go braless in the first place and how to transition from your over-the-shoulder boulder-holder.
- Breast Health. Circulation within the lymphatic system is an all-important part of maintaining breast health. And, you guessed it, bras compress the lymph vessels that are close to the breast's surface, preventing the flow of the lymph fluids that help to clear out toxins. In their book, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, authors Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer contend that regular bra-wearing may well be responsible for the huge increase in breast cancer in modern times. So, many women choose to forgo bras for reasons of health and not just comfort. To women who feel compelled to wear a bra, consider massaging your breasts at the end of the day to increase lymph fluid circulation. (To the guys who are reading this, we're talking massage for the purposes of health and not arousal.)
- The Nipple Factor. Ever heard of fripples? (Hint: It's not the name of a new Starbucks drink.) The possibility of prominent visible nipples is one of the biggest deterrents to many women who might otherwise go braless. Here are a few solutions to embarrassment over visible nipples:
- Nipple tape. Nipple tape comes in several different shapes and sizes but the primary idea is to compress the nipple to the level of the surrounding tissue, thus making it less distinctive. There are variations to the nipple tape theme, such as pasties or glue-on cups. Beware that some of these products are designed for function and others for decorative effect.
- Remember your jacket. Do you remember the boys in high school who liked to turn on the fan and watch the results? When shopping for frozen foods, have a jacket or wrap close at hand. In a similar vein, you don't want to get caught braless in the rain.
- Vests. Vests are wonderful accessories for going braless with ease. There you are beneath your vest--fashionable, comfortable and braless--with no one the wiser for it.
- Don't look down. Let's face it. There will be eyes glued to your breasts, whether you're wearing a bra or not. But just because they're looking doesn't mean you have to.
- Size Matters. Girls who are AA on a good day can wear just about anything without support but those who are more well-endowed have a different, um, set of problems.
- The flop factor. One issue for women with large breasts is that movement of the breasts can be painful, particularly at times of the month that breasts tend to be swollen or sensitive. Good posture can help to offset this effect.
- The modesty question. Big mammaries tend to migrate more than the smaller ones do....out of one's shirt, into one's face when you lean over, and so on. Your choice of clothing makes a big difference in this regard. Get a sense for which articles of clothing contain (but don't restrain) your breasts. Practice at home until you feel comfortable being out in public without a bra.
- Chafing. Large breasts can chafe the skin just beneath the breast. Sweating, rashes and even fungal infections are also possibilities. Many women find that silk and cotton camisoles worn next to the breast lessen these issues. Some women also apply antiperspirant beneath large breasts or carry a small towel to dry the area beneath their breasts on occasion, an item one friend of mine affectionately calls her "titty towel."
- Shelf bras. Shelf bras are pretty much what they sound like--a support built into an undershirt that basically provides a shelf for your breasts to rest upon. Unfortunately shelf bras tend to make your chest look like, well, a shelf, but they do provide some support.
- Breast Fetishists aka "Breast Men." Most women are all too familiar with the mannerisms of this particular breed: During conversation, the man's eyes are glued to your mammaries to the point that you're tempted to start using sign language. Sociologists and anthropologists remain unsure as to why breast fetishism is as pervasive as it is (sounds like a topic for a government study). Meanwhile, get used to it.......breast men are ubiquitous.
- Breaking In. A week on a topless beach can do wonders for your self-consciousness about going braless. But if you're not planning a trip to the Mediterranean anytime soon, try starting out in the winter when you'll be wearing layers anyway. Get used to how your breasts feel hanging loose--remember that women had been living that way for years before the invention of bras.
For some women, going braless (or "bra-free" as many women prefer to call it) is a political statement; for others, a question of comfort. If you'd like to read the experiences of other women who have, dare I say "taken the plunge," check out GoingBraless.net, where women of all ages, shapes and sizes share their bra-free experiences in a bra-centric world.