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I Paid The Price For Arriving Early To The Braless Revolution

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I've seen the memes, and celebrities are getting in on the trend, which means it has truly arrived. Just the other day, Charlize Theron made headlines for it, and now that Beyoncé is on board, I think we have the makings of a revolution -- the braless revolution. Finally!

Like every woman, I've had a complicated relationship with my mammary twins and the things that people make to bind them up, squeeze them together, and hold them in place.

The struggle with bras was real. There was a brief bra-burning period that occurred, unfortunately, when I was a toddler and still too young to benefit. As a symbol of budding womanhood -- and with a friend who had C-cups in grade three for god's sake -- I was most anxious to get my first bra. But, it was a moment that was delayed, and delayed, and delayed by my mother waiting for them to get "big enough," a moment that just couldn't come fast enough.


I'd been teased mercilessly from about grade four or five on about the smallness of my breasts -- good, honest B cups, but they were not the favoured size of my youth. Or so I was led to believe. I truly never heard the end of it, constantly reminded that my budding breasts weren't up to code by my classmates, my family, and society at large. There was that uber humiliating game of truth or dare in a neighbourhood kid's basement when the only comment anyone could think to make about me was, "Your tits are too small!" I was about 12.

I was 15 years old when I decided I'd had enough. I was like that back then -- feisty, but still naive enough to think life was actually about fairness in any way, shape or form. It just wasn't fair of people to put me down because of something physical, something I had no control over. It made me angry and defiant.

But, while I'd decided I wasn't going to allow the world to tell me I was defective because of something genetic, at the same time, I did absorb the general message that the sisters just weren't desirable or considered attractive. Like, by anyone. Except me.

The thing is, we went from bra burning to those unstructured bras to the now ubiquitous underwire during those first 15 years of my life. There was no effing way I was going to start subjecting myself to underwire, especially because I just couldn't find one that fit. It didn't help that I wasn't even trying the right size -- I'd been attempting to stuff myself into an A cup, just because I equated "A" with small.

So I came to a logical conclusion: I stopped wearing a bra. Why bother, if no one's looking? No one will care, right?

I know I was turned down for promotions, and it showed up in evaluations -- "dresses unprofessionally."

I did mention I was naive. I can also be fairly blind. It really surprised me when someone wrote in my high school yearbook, "To the girl who just lets them swing." But no one's looking at them! I thought. I was genuinely puzzled by the paradox at the time.

Of course, I was wrong about all of that. Over the years, I came to realize that:
a) if it's heterosexual male attention you're after, they'll look at all boobs, not just the huge ones;
b) without realizing it for a long time, I was paying a price for it.

Don't get me wrong; even without a bra, I had (opaque) camisoles I wore to cover up any offending nipplage. But that wasn't enough. It was the shape and the movement people found unacceptable and "unprofessional," a criticism that was leveled at me many times during my stint in an office environment. I know I was turned down for promotions, and it showed up in evaluations -- "dresses unprofessionally."

I was once taken to task by an office manager who had silicone bubble boobs, who always wore a push-up bra and sheer blouses buttoned down to her pneumatic cleavage -- she's the one who told me my lack of foundation garments in my long, loose dresses wasn't appropriate at work.

By the time I realized all of this, however, I was in my 30s, and it was too late. So you've been looking all along? So they weren't too small to be noticed after all? Well isn't that too effing bad. I was no longer (so) naive, but defiance had grown long roots. I came to understand full well that my simple act of undergarment rebellion had fundamentally shaped the trajectory of my professional life; I certainly didn't survive in the office environment for very long.

I guess somewhere along the line, I decided that, whatever I may have gotten by reason of being willing to tame the natural movement and squeeze the natural shape into a smooth, acceptable lump, just wasn't worth it to me.

And now a new generation is kicking underwire to the curb.

I wish them luck.

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