And what I learned along the way
My relationship with my breasts has always been a complicated one, in so much as I’ve never really liked them. My bra size? A 32B.
I was a late developer (I didn’t get my period until I was 16) and hoped they would suddenly inflate to an acceptable level, but they remained resolutely small. As you can imagine, that went down well in college. The terms ‘mosquito bites’ and ‘ironing board’ came up a lot.
In my teenage years, I was the padded bra’s biggest champion, because why wouldn’t you wear something that makes your chest look bigger than it is?
In the past year or so, I’ve even ditched the padded bras, because I felt it was cheating in a way, and I could never find a cup that fitted properly (don’t you just hate that space between the boob and the fabric?).
But I never not wear a bra, even on holiday, unless I’m wearing a backless dress, and even then I have one of those special stick-on ones. I simply don’t feel confident without a bra.
And as a grown woman, I should really be embracing my body more, because unless I go down the breast implant route, which I’d rather not, then they’re not going to get any bigger.
So on a whim, I pitched the idea to my editor of going braless for a week, which might not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. Bras are my armour. Once the initial panic wore off, I wondered if this could actually make me love my breasts? I was determined to at least try.
I thought I’d ease into this by going braless on a Sunday where the most exciting thing I had planned was food shopping. But hey, I had to start somewhere, right? I always select matching underwear sets when I get ready in the morning, so just pulling out the knickers felt weird, and when I slipped my Breton top directly onto my naked chest, it did feel like I had forgotten something.
I felt self-conscious at the supermarket, especially in the frozen food aisle, if you see what I mean, but no one gave me a second glance.
I did get a ‘er are you not going to wear a bra?’ from my husband when I showed him my outfit that day, a white silk shirt which to be fair was a bit see-through (pictured below, worn with a bra on a different day). Although he didn’t mean it in a bad way, it did make me reconsider my outfit, because I was worried that people would look at my chest all day.
Steering out of my comfort zone of high-neck tops in thick fabrics, I decided to literally take the plunge in a wrap dress (the one below, though pictured a different day). Now even if a dress is super low cut, I will always wear a bra, so I was feeling very self-conscious. I had a breakfast meeting with a PR that morning, and I did notice her looking down at my boobs a couple of times, so she was probably a little uncomfortable, which in turn made me feel uncomfortable. Hmm, tomorrow is another day, right?
After my fail of the previous day, for the Wednesday I went for another thick t-shirt, paired with a gingham skirt, and… Nothing happened. No one batted an eyelid, almost like I was the only one obsessed with my own breasts. Weird.
Thursday was a bit of a breakthrough moment: it was the first day I didn’t cringe at the thought of not wearing a bra. I’d go as far as saying it was quite liberating knowing I could pretty much just throw something on and go. Walking in the street sans bra was quite a nice feeling too.
I’ve got to be honest with you, I barely thought about the fact I wasn’t wearing a bra on Friday. I wore a wrap top that I would normally feel uncomfortable wearing sans lingerie, as it’s low cut and the fabric is thin, but quite the opposite, I felt empowered. Just something about not pretending or having to think too hard about it.
I approached the final day of the challenge with a mix of emotions. Part of me was relieved that it was almost over, another part of me was happy to carry on. I wore a floaty chiffon dress that evening on a date night (pictured below, worn on a different day), which had a plunging neckline and not wearing a bra made me feel sexy and confident, which would never normally happen. I’d be that girl crossing her arms over her boobs. So this was a welcome change, that I didn’t think would happen in such a short amount of time.
Would I go completely braless? Probably not. There’s the fact I love a lace triangle bra, but also some sheer tops I have just wouldn’t be appropriate sans bra for work, I would be too paranoid my boss could see my nipples. I can see how liberating it would be, and kudos to Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid et al for doing, but that’s a step too far for me.
But for me, the fact I can ditch my confidence-boosting bras for a week without losing said confidence is victory enough.