A woman’s body has always been the ground of social, political and cultural debates. It has been repressed, policed and pedestalled, divesting from it the freedom and choices of a natural human body. Bra is yet another tool that patriarchal society has been using to normalize the male-dominance, oppression and objectification of the female body. It has been mandated in the everyday life of women who live in a male-dominant society. True, bras are essential for women’s bodies but are not mandatory. Besides, why can’t wearing a bra just be the choice of a woman for her well-being?
How does patriarchy look at bra?
Bras represent a tight strap of patriarchy that represses a woman’s sexuality and their natural state of being. It imposes a regressive idea of female beauty which is stereotypical and not inclusive. Ever wondered why a visible strap, protruding nipple or the colour of bra attracts criticism and stares? Breasts are the symbol of femininity, power and sexuality of a woman which is threatening and grotesque for patriarchy and its hypocritical morality. In order to be a part of the male dominant society, women have been burdened with norms like wearing a bra and repress their feminity, another way to condition them into being submissive.
True, bras are essential for women’s bodies but are not mandatory. Besides, why does it have to be embedded in the false patriarchal norms?
On the other hand, women who choose to go braless reclaim their freedom and embrace their natural body. Movements like “bra-burning”, “No Bra, No Problem”, “Free The Nipple” have made benchmark arguments that advocate embracing feminity in its natural form. These powerful movements played a vital role in separating bras from the false feminine culture and bra myths. Going braless has been a symbol of empowerment and confidence in public. It has helped to set women free from physical discomfort, economic hassle in procuring bras, and has brought body positivism.
Know your body
However, women who go braless are dismissed as radical, political and male-hating feminists. Moreover, going braless is still a difficult decision for many women. Does wearing a bra has any health benefit? Does going braless affect the body? Questions like these need to be addressed so that women can make an informed choice. Wearing or not wearing a bra has to be a matter of bodily autonomy and not a social norm. It has to be depoliticized and desexualized so that women can just choose what is right for their bodies.
Let us be clear about one thing. bras are essential for a woman’s body with heavy breasts. According to the Institute of Osteopathy, as quoted by True, bras help in distributing the weight of the breasts, taking off the strain from the shoulders, backs and the rib cage. Not wearing a bra can cause musculoskeletal pain.
Speaking with SheThePeople.TV, Dr Anita Gupta, a senior consultant for Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Fortis La Femme in Delhi said, “Wearing a bra is not a must in young girls but it should be worn by lactating women and women with heavy breasts. It should also be worn in older women when muscles and skin become lax. As in these women if one does not wear a bra it will cause the skin to stretch a lot and may lead to stretch marks and sagging of the breasts. Not wearing a bra may also lead to breast pain in these women especially on excessive movements or exercise. The bra also helps maintain a good shape or figure in a woman’s upper body.”
Wearing a bra is not a must in young girls but it should be worn by lactating women and women with heavy breasts. It should also be worn in older women when muscles and skin become lax.- Dr Anita Gupta
Choose comfort over appearance
However, some bras are wired, tight and uncomfortable. They cause breathing problems and rashes around the bust and the shoulders. Women wear them with the conception that it gives a better shape to the breasts. Talking about the uncomfortable bras, Dr Gupta said that such bras are not necessary for medical reasons. Bras can be comfortable and based on choice.
Therefore, dear women, wear bras to embrace and to take care of your bodies and not to fit in the frames of patriarchal beauty. The problem is not so much about wearing a bra as why you wear it.
Picture Credit: Maurer foundation
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.