Sunday, March 01, 2009

In which I channel my inner radfem, or something:

I am liking this website right now. Anti-bra.

Why? Simple. I hate the fucking things.

I am sorry that the 70's era bra-burning thing is a myth (although I'm sure someone tried it somewhere), because in theory it sounds very satisfying, although in reality I imagine it'd be something of an anti-climax, plus setting that microfiber whatsit shit on fire probably'd be bad for the environment, and smell terrible.

It's not really a the result of lengthy, deep, forehead-crinkling "examination," this conclusion of mine; although, yes yes sure obviously the fact that I wear 'em even though I can't stand 'em is about Teh Pat, or The Man, or The System, or what you will. But I'd happily keep wearing them if I actually got any use or pleasure out of them. It's very personal, and very physical. I realize this is not gonna be one size fits all (hah), lots of women really do feel better with 'em on, I buy it. I'm just not one of 'em. I. Just. Hate. Wearing. Bras.

Well, let me clarify. I'm femmey, in a low key way. I could like bras as fetish wear, or fashion sometimes, same as I like corsets. But I so hate them as effectively -mandatory-. I'm sure I'd have felt the same way about corsets if I were expected to wear one all day ever fucking day. I can't even wear tight jeans for very long.

And even the most comfortable bras, even the ones that -do- fit, sort of, it's like--it's elastic digging into my shoulders. It's multiple metal hooks near my bare skin. It's a pinchy band right on or around my solar plexus where none was required or desired. Don't even get me started on the underwire ones, or the ones with itchy twee lace. I may be femmey, but comfort comes first 95% of the time. And for me--not speaking for anyone else--bras are NOT comfortable. Ever. At best, they're tolerable. And yeah, I did the "find your real size" thing, and still, except for very -rare- occasions where yeah I really do want "support" because it hurts if they jiggle--nope. Still uncomfortable. Still would rather go without. Still remove it first thing I get home, practically before putting my purse down, sometimes before taking off my shoes.

And, thing is, bras: as a very Zaftig person, yep, I -do- get policed regularly should I visibly go without in public. On the street, I mean. Certainly at any kind of corporate or "real" job I ever did, I didn't even think of trying. But I mean, I consider it par for the course to have to put on certain kinds of "drag" for certain situations. Bras? It's basically been: anywhere outside my apartment. Because, it's very -obvious- if I go without, let's say. Oddly enough, (or not) the disapproving comments (and even a catcall, once) seem to come from women at least as often as men.

So, I like this site, because it reminds me I've been thinking of just saying fuck it and doing without more often anyway. The gallery of the range of "normal" breasts is worth looking at especially, check it out. (Of course Not Safe For Fucking Work, it's bare breasties! and, well, proving the point...)

I don't love everything they say. The emphasis on "but breasts are for babies!"...yes, it's true, obviously, and the weirdness this culture has about public breast feeding zomg is certainly fucked up. And they're not obnoxious about the whole, breasts aren't -inherently- sexual although they certainly can be, pretty much on board; just, I've seen too many cultural feminists take that shit and torque it into their own weird eroticization is always bad mkay, did we mention we canz has BABIEZ??? oh, too bad for you if you're one of the women who can't, but, you know, the -principle- of the thing, MOON WOMB SPOON JUNE.

As for the anti-augmentation--yes wrt the industry and health concerns and all; but again, I've seen too many feminsts use it as an excuse for misogynist bashing to not have my knee jerk a little. especially when they make aesthetic criticisms of the way surgically enhanced breasts look--lookit, artifice is fine too, you're willing to expand your generosity of beauty appreciation to all kinds of "normal," leave other women's bodies the hell alone; even if you think they're only doing it to please someone else or harming themselves, (also consider the possibility that you may be incorrect) exchanging one form of shaming and tsking and hectoring for another isn't a way out.

The cancer connection--well, maybe. I don't know anyone who wears the things 24/7. I imagine there might be something to that severe a constriction that consistently not being great for the lymph nodes, but I really don't know. But yeah, wrt the whole "o you need to wear a bra or they'll sag earlier"--which I've gotten, yep, thanks Mom--fuck it.

a) really, only makes a difference as long as it's actually on
b) anyway, so the hell what if they do sag? It's called "gravity," generally a good thing or we'd all be floating on the fucking ceiling innit?

They -did- make the same argument about not getting rid of the corset, back in the day, of course: but but but the waistline will just expand out of control unless you wear one, at least during the day! And: well, um, yeah. They do that. And?

I will say that the camisole solution--in general, don't prefer it, more comfortable when it's not too hot, sure, but when it is it's just one more layer to put up with, and there's still the Annoying Little Strap issue to contend with.

You can fill in the rest, I'm not saying anything eight kazillion other feminists haven't said. Just rabbiting into the void here, really. And, hey, if it inspires anyone else who also hates the fucking things but hasn't quite gone as far as pitching them, solidarity, yo.

If you're like, hey, but I love my bra, as far as I'm concerned, for whatever it's worth, you are totally golden. Work away. All's you have to do is -not- give -me- static if I go without, and I will most certainly not give you static for adoring your Wonderbra, or indeed silicone or other high artifice/bodily modifications.

If you are thinking, hey, this isn't her usual subject matter, what's up with that? It is because I cannot be arsed to write about anything that involves more research or thought or care than "hey, I just clicked this link, say that reminds me: did I ever mention I hate bras?" and, well, I'm just sitting here, really.

And, that is all.

ETA: Comrade Physioprof spotted something in that site that I missed:

The first comprehensive study on this subject was done by medical researcher Sydney Singer, after his wife Soma Grismaijer discovered a lump on her breast. She got rid of hers in two months by quitting wearing bra, doing regular breast massage and exercise, drinking only purified water, and taking some herbs and supplemental vitamins and minerals.

Yeah, no. Really: No. I mean, I'm sure all those things are fine to do, too, -before- you find something? but sorry, but if you have a lump, go to the fucking doctor. Yeah, patriarchal Westernized medicine and all; somehow I'm not gonna take whatsis' husband's word for the self-healing spiel, thanks. I'd like to see how exactly they conducted the "comprehensive study," too, now, frankly.

'K, I rescind endorsement of the site. The gallery is still cool, though, and I still think it's worth repeating:

No one should have to wear uncomfortable tit-slings if they don't want to.

Really, why do people need to tart it up with this other crap? *sigh*


Gorilla Bananas said...

Because, it's very -obvious- if I go without, let's say.

Is that a euphemism for "I've got big boobies."?

belledame222 said...

No, GB. They fall off and break. It tends to cause a scene, and it's very expensive to keep replacing them.

Winter said...

Argh! I too hate bras. Shopping for bras makes me cry. My bras have been professionally fitted and the comfort level is still very much relative. If you have a wonderful sense of release when you take the damn thing off at night, it just can't be that comfortable. You get used it after a while, but that's all I can say.

I'd go without more often, but I have lots of body image issues and going braless makes me painfully self-aware. So at the moment, going without is just slightly more psychologically torturous than going without.

belledame222 said...

although evidently I've now got at least one.

belledame222 said...

slip. just as well. hey, Winter!

antiprincess said...


I hate bras. hate them worse now that I'm nursing.

blah blah blah nursing boobies blah.

at my job, the boss said one day "well, there's nothing in the dress code that says you have to wear a bra." so I don't. I don't even bother with nursing bras. those little hook-y things that nursing bras have, that little trap-door? whatev. I realized I never bothered to hook them, so there was no reason to even use them.

so, yeah, for now, I have the luxury of saying "fuck it," and dressing for ease-of-nursing. yeah, I'm huge. yeah, sag. yeah, I leak. fuck it. what, the boobie police gonna arrest the boobies?

of course, nursing in public has completely erased any traces of shame I might have had.

don't know what I'm going to do when I have to leave the mommy bubble and go back to the real world. because I hate bras, and they are a really important part of corporate drag. when I don't have the convenient excuse of nursing anymore, I fear that all the shame I don't have the luxury of feeling, will all come back and I'll armor up again, even though I hate the fucking things.

Kristin said...

"They fall off and break."


Yeah, I dunno... Kinda ambivalent about 'em, though I understand the disdain. Especially if I have a cold or bronchitis or am feeling asthmatic or whatever... Don't like having the *band* so tight around me. But it hurts my back to go without, so I don't. Meh... Also, the industry could stand to manufacture more bras that come in sizes beyond a DD. Jeez... Yeah, that's right Gorilla Bananas. I haz "big boobies." Fuck off then, eh?

Gaina said...

Ah, someone who shares my atittude to those little tit-torturers! (And I'm not saying that in a feminist way, but a matter-of-fact 'They are ruddy uncomfortable!' way).

I like a certain brand because I have scoliosis and they mould to my shape nicely and are quite lightweight....but I'm still way more comfortable (physically and psychologically) going 'free rage'.

I have a nifty little party piece actually - I can get my bra off and slip it into my purse without disturbing my outer layers of clothing, so it can come off at any time of the day, not just when I get home! :D

Winter said...

Ha, yeah, good typo there! I meant to say, I find going without more psychologically torturous than wearing one, but apparently my unconcious is less than sure about that.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Uh, oh. This shit on the anti-bra Web site is a dangerous pack of lies:

How bras are linked to breast cancer

Many allopathic medicine advocates say that bras causing breast cancer is just a myth. It is true that bras do not cause breast per se, but they are linked to its formation since they can prevent your body from excreting dangerous cancer-causing chemicals. The main reason why bras are bad for breast health is because they restrict the lymph flow in your breasts. There are numerous lymph pathways and lymph nodes in the armpits, under the breasts, and in between the breasts. Normally the lymph fluid washes out waste materials and other toxins away from the breasts, but bras (and especially push-up bras) inhibit this action, so toxins can start to accumulate in the breast, and that can help cancer to develop. In other words, bras inhibit the way our bodies normally cleanse themselves and get rid of cancer cells and toxins like PCBs, DDT, dioxin, benzene and other carsinogenic chemicals that cling to the body's fatty tissues like breast. In fact, if you find a lump in your breast, it may very well be filled with lymph fluid that was not able to move away from the breast tissue.

Bra wearing may also be connected to cancer in other ways. Wearing bras slightly increases the temperature of the breast tissue, and women who wear bras have higher levels of the hormone prolactin. Both of these may influence breast cancer formation.

The first comprehensive study on this subject was done by medical researcher Sydney Singer, after his wife Soma Grismaijer discovered a lump on her breast. She got rid of hers in two months by quitting wearing bra, doing regular breast massage and exercise, drinking only purified water, and taking some herbs and supplemental vitamins and minerals.

Suggesting that women who find a lump can "get rid of it" in this way is FUCKING NUTS!

belledame222 said...

Oh Jesus, I missed that bit, thanks, CPP. Yeah, I thought it had an air of "flaky New Age cultfem" about it but--yeah, no, that's irresponsible as fuck.

belledame222 said...

Gaina: I can do that too. Did it out of necessity, really. That whole thing where you're supposed to be able to reach behind yourself and unsnap your own?

a) my arms don't even work that way
b) I R Klutzy

just push the straps down and shove the whole thing to the ground. voila.

belledame222 said...

K: I've never had the back issues from not wearing one, for whatever reason, although I can totally see why someone who was built differently from me might. or...who knows. but yeah, that's never been the issue.

it is true that sometimes around my period I do want the "support" because it hurts when they shift around.

of course another solution to that one is just not moving around that much till I feel better...

Miss Robyn said...

Ugh. I hate bras. If I ever get the balls up to get the medically necessary reduction that I unfortunately really need but am too afraid to get, I will never wear one of the damn things again.

Gaina said...

"Gaina: I can do that too. Did it out of necessity, really. That whole thing where you're supposed to be able to reach behind yourself and unsnap your own?

a) my arms don't even work that way
b) I R Klutzy

just push the straps down and shove the whole thing to the ground. voila."

Haha I have the 'pull on' types cos I'm no good with clasps either - hand up the sleeve, pull one strap out, over the head then down the other arm. :D

belledame222 said...

Yeah, I had some sports bras I liked for that reason. but then I got another (I use online) thinking it'd be comfortable and low-key like the last one and it was like REINFORCED IRON BANDS. I'm like, fuck me, I'm not a fucking triathlete, I just want something without any gorram metal or super reinforced elastic in it, is it -that hard?-

Kristin said...

Just noting here... I have a friend who has always had similar feelings about bras, and she got tested only to realize that she had a slight allergy to the metal and elastic that they use. So, she had to get specially manufactured hypoallergenic bras or something... I dunno. This tidbit probably won't make you love them anymore. :)

Oh, and yeah, I cannot reach behind and unharness either. I have to dredge the band all the way back around to the front.

Another thing: I do wish they would make the DDD's with padding. Because I can't be bothered to wear the little "nipple covers" under my bra, and my nipples are big, and... And all they (the bra industry) make in my size is the "minimizer bra." Which is just... My chest doesn't *look* all that damn big. I don't need a bra to push it down. It looks proportionate, and I just want a little bit of fucking padding so I don't look like I'm pointing at everyone all day.

A'ishah Meghan Rose said...

i desperately want to go braless, but i have ddd's and i work/go to school/live in academia. i'm usually not afraid of being the freak in the room, but for some reason, i am when it comes to this. someone give me strength!

thank you, belledame, for posting about this.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I wouldn't be surprised if I were like your friend, Kristin; I've never encountered one that didn't itch like mad, so I haven't bothered with the damn things for over fifteen years.

I have a couple of sports bras, those are okay, they're made out of clothing. Though at the moment my hormone state is STOP TOUCHING MY TITS YOU FUCKING FABRIC.

I have a sort of political objection to the things, too, in addition to the whole, y'know, "Why do I want to afflict my nipples with obnoxious itch?" thing. Basically, one of my first bits of Proper Girl Training -- which I missed out on as a kid but started to have afflicting me in adolescence -- was "You must wear a bra or People Will Notice." Back before I had, y'know, even the minor boobage I have now.

To which my reaction was about two weeks of trying to wear the thing, and finally a "WTF, Mom, this is bullshit" and a burying of the things at the back of the sock drawer. "Where's your bra?" "Oh, I don't know."

Politicalguineapig said...

Pardon, but who in the world wears bras at night? I've never met anyone who did.

Anonymous said...

Listen to physioprof.
"Bras cause breast cancer" is bogus. I have had medical students ask me this during lecture! Medline/Entrez is your friend, students. Common sense helps.

I don't mind a properly fitting underwire or plain sports bra.

Women on call in hospital wear bras, along with scrubs and socks, to sleep.


Politicalguineapig said...

Thanks for clearing that up. I was also wondering about the "bras cause cancer thing," because if bras have been around since the 1900s or so, why is it that there wasn't a big spike in breast cancer until the latter half of the century?

DaisyDeadhead said...

I. Just. Hate. Wearing. Bras.

I am so with you, Belle. I loathe damn things, I only wear them because I'd get fired otherwise.

belledame222 said...

See, if the people who did the whole "have you EXAMINED your blah blah" would instead be putting their energy into changing work policies and/or the general culture, that'd be really useful. But I mean, you do it by going, yeah, I/she isn't wearing a bra, you have a problem with it? or y'know, whatever, something more formal for an actual policy situation, just...Not so much with the whole "just admit you only wear them because of the Pat, whether you personally actually like them or not," to people who've made it clear that they really support choice but happen to be comfortable wearing them (lipstick, heels, whatever) themselves. What good does that do?

Interrobang said...

You will take my bras when you pry them off my cold, dead carcass. I'm kind of the other way; I'm not comfortable doing much of anything unless I'm wearing a bra, and I've gone out of my way to buy new ones when the old ones suddenly stopped fitting (like about six weeks ago), because there's nothing, nothing, nothing more miserable than an ill-fitting bra.

If the straps are cutting into your shoulders, you're wearing the wrong band size, FWIW. The straps are there to hold the tops of the cups in place, and not to provide the structural support. Also, those "what are your real size" things generally are based on a crappy algorithm that doesn't actually work.

I wear sturdy bras for the same reason I wear sturdy shoes -- it hurts too much if I go without. I want, frankly, bras designed by pissed-off 6' tall 200 pound, DD-wearing radical feminist civil engineers who specialise in cantilever bridges and run marathons in their spare time. :)

Jenna said...

hey. amen. and shouldn't religious people be against bras like
god didn't give you nipples so you could hide them and be ashamed of them

cant stand nipples get the hell out of nature