Two Elastic Straps

Graphic by Abbie Holbrook

Two elastic straps
The oppression of women
Dangerous wild girl

Freedom outside here
The ultimate feminine?
Hard nipples in sight

Is it safe without
No protective padding on
Sagging tits out on display

Joyous bounce of chest
To societal disgust
Only freedom awaits

Society treats bras much like shoes – a predetermined necessity. And yet, bras are a requisite applicable to only about half of the population. When girls begin to develop breast tissue in early puberty, they’re told that it should be contained. There’s this mad idea that breasts should be perky and round, but that cleavage should not be on display – breasts are supposed to be ‘perfect’ yet hidden. In the eyes of some, breasts are not to be enjoyed or celebrated by women, nor even suckled on by babies in public. A pervasive sexualisation of these biological appendages makes it inappropriate for the owner to express how they like to keep them. Instead, they should be contained in a god-awful underwire contraption that makes them uniform and inconspicuous – a private mystery for only lovers to see.

Their biological purpose long forgotten, breasts have become a matter of public opinion and an entity of society. They are no longer a personal extension of feminine soul and freedom, nor the bosom of nourishment they were designed to be. I’m not saying that lovers shouldn’t enjoy the breasts of their partners, but simply that the owner should be able to freely enjoy them too. Society’s expectations about what we should do with something as personal as our body stomps on my toes. I’m sick of having throbbing toes and constricted tits. My breasts belong to no-one but me, so why am I forced to play hide and seek with them if I don’t want to?

While I don’t believe that men are solely to blame for the way that women continue to feel about their bodies today, it is historically relevant to point out that once upon a time (and to this day in some communities), womankind belonged to the male creature. That context may have started this notion that our looks and our breasts were for our lovers’ eyes only. Since then, however, women have fought hard to win the rights that we now have. And yet, the independence that we have gained often does not extend to our bodies. We should be free to choose what we do with our own anatomy, without fear of negative social consequences.

I find myself struggling to understand why we feel the need to tame our bodies. Do we submit to society’s expectations and forego the space that we crave because we are eager to please? Do we, in this day and age, still feel as though we need to be kept? Why must something that is intrinsically human and that is capable of feeding our children be altered, shaped, perfected, and hidden? Women have always been at the centre of humanity – holding space, bearing children and/or raising them in society; we have been sages and shamans, the most innate of healers. We are the mothers of humankind, so why do the expectations of societies that we literally bring into life limit our rights and our freedom? We should not feel pressured into conforming to societal standards that undermine our autonomy over our bodies.

In writing this, I invite you, owner of bras, to do what you like with them. I personally don’t enjoy bras unless they are of the wire-free, see-through lace variety, but you can and should wear whatever you want to wear (or not wear, as the case may be). You may not share my beliefs about bra wearing, and that’s okay – we should each take time to construct our own opinions on topics like this. However, I feel a need to speak out for those who also perceive bras as oppressive, but who feel that they cannot verbalise this view.

Alongside our societal fear of free breasts, I believe it is important to address our hesitance towards ditching the norm. Ultimately, this hesitance reflects a fear of each other and of the very human judgements that we all make. While we all have our personal tastes and ideas, taking a moment to consider how many judgements we make (or try to avoid) may help us to allow ourselves and others more freedom of choice regarding our appearances and our bodies. Imagine if we all just embraced one another’s natural appearance; imagine if no woman or girl felt that she had to wear makeup, or shave all of her body hair, or wear a bra. Imagine all of the other things that women could focus their attention and power on!

As women, we have a right to live our truths. We ought to embody what we feel and follow our true north when it comes to expressing our biology. Are bras part of your dream path, when you consider them outside of constructed societal values? Personally, they’re not a part of mine. So, allow yourself to bounce through life with your nipples exposed if you like – your breasts are as much a part of you as your eyes and your teeth. Blaze your own trail. Seize the day.

Freed women run on
Bouncing tits out on display
Empowered goddess

Her body burning
Wild and enlightened magic
Alchemist at heart

No longer restrained
The grasp of society
No longer obeyed

Her bosom alight
Beautiful, wild and free girl
At one with nature