Malaika Arora goes braless on a dog walk, many major publications reported on Friday morning, enticing readers to click on the articles by promising a "hot" picture. If you are a person with moderate levels of sensibilities, all you would have seen on clicking on the said articles, was a celeb wearing a tracksuit and walking her dog. Is she not wearing a bra, isn't even the question here. Should we be even forced to care?
Forced we were, not because of Malaika Arora's clothing choices, but the way media chose to report it. Being a woman celebrity in India means your body will not only be scrutinised but will also be objectified for the sake of clicks. Didn't a major news publication earn flack for sharing a picture of Deepika Padukone's cleavage a decade ago?
Despite the outrage, it seems that standards of reporting have only fallen in the last few years. Be it a celebrity's death, childbirth, weight loss or weight gain, or stretch marks and body hair, media outlets make it a point to remind women that their bodies need to look and be presented to the world in a certain way. But women will know, going braless of all things is not as big a deal as it is made out to be.
Especially during the pandemic, many women have experienced the pleasure of going bra-free. There was nowhere to go and nothing to hide. The bras soaked in the smell of mothballs inside cupboards and breasts developed a free will. Well, not everyone could avail this privilege. Women living with in-laws or male relatives could not go bra-free in the confines of their rooms. Women with heavy breasts can only afford to go braless at night time, in order to preserve their backs. Whatever be the choices we made depending on our circumstances, one thing is clear- Arora isn't the first woman to go about her daily life sans a bra.
However, for women from all walks of life, the comfort of going ">bra-free only comes when circumstances allow us that privilege. It took a pandemic for most women to be able to experience this comfort and that too because it granted us the privilege of privacy. What happens when you try to exploit to go bra-free in a public space? We know that very well from scrutiny on Arora's choice to do so.
The entire Malaika Arora episode is a reality check for us- society will leave no stones unturned to make us conscious about our bodies. A simple act like ditching the bra for walking your dog, on going out to buy milk has the potential of inviting sexualising comments on your body. But that doesn't mean women should give up on comfort. This is not about wearing or ditching the bra- it is all about your will. The truth is, every clothing choice a woman makes has the potential to invite scrutiny unless we start a positive dialogue in our society to break age-old stigmas.
So why not go braless and talk about it? Why must comfort come in seclusion? Let us share what going bra-free means to us. If you have such a story to share do write back to us.