Buzzfeed: Women Go Braless For a Week

BuzzFeedYellow. “Women Go Braless For A Week.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

One of my questions regarding the bra is what would it be like to live in a world where our culture changed to be more approving of women going braless? In this video, four women go braless for one week as part of a culture experiment. Admittedly, Buzzfeed is quite comfortable in its role of challenging cultural norms, so the braless experiment might come easier for Buzzfeed’s female participants than for an average woman. The four women also do not have to worry about violating workplace dress codes, as Buzzfeed and its staff are condoning such an experiment, which would ordinarily keep women from going without a bra. For these reasons, this experiment is more valuable in gauging the practicality of the bra instead of the stigma around bralessness. The four women differed in their willingness to go without a bra. Three of the four shared the concern of too much breast movement. The one woman who didn’t share this fear, Quinta, was an avid supporter of going without a bra. She said she often buys clothes that don’t need to be worn with a bra. Another woman, Hillary, said she would ditch her bra if only she had smaller breasts. Another of the women, Jordan, did not consider bras a nuisance and felt comfortable wearing them. She especially considered bras necessary for working out. All women except Quinta worried about nipple protrusions.

During the experiment, Hillary discovered that dressing work-appropriately would be difficult without a bra, considering that her closet was filled with sheer shirts and blouses. Hillary’s problem gives important clues about the cultural boundaries that absolutely cannot be crossed, in this case, exposing the breasts at work. This suggests that bralessness might not be much of a cultural challenge when compared to breast exposure amongst colleagues. Another of the women, Hochi, came across the same wardrobe issue when she found many of her clothes were made of thin fabric. However, Hochi’s concern regarded visible nipple protrusion rather than Hillary’s fear of breasts being visible in sheer fabrics. Two women, Hillary and Jordan, found bralessness inconvenient for exercise. Hillary found it “distracting” how much her breasts moved during her spinning class. Jordan, who normally works out nearly every day of the week, refused to not wear a bra during her workouts because of fear that she would “flash [her] whole gym.”

Hochi jokingly lamented the unevenness of her breasts when she noticed “[o]ne breast is up there, and the other one is down there,” before wailing, “They are weird and misshapen in real life but I never knew because I was always wearing a bra” One can’t be sure if Hochi is joking- Buzzfeed is a comedy site after all- or if she actually finds fault in her breasts. However, Hochi’s shock, even if feigned, presents an opportunity to examine the impact of the bra on the conceived ideal breasts. With regards to breast evenness, a 2011 study by Chan et. al. published in The Breast Journal assures that “some degree of breast asymmetry is almost universal.” In spite of the prevalence of asymmetry in healthy breasts, most women perceive breast asymmetry as abnormal and seek plastic surgery to fix it. The bra, as Hochi discovered, molds the breasts into a symmetrical shape, perhaps to the point of deceiving the wearer of her true breast shape. The only point of comparison most women have is in public, where women wear bras, so a woman concerned about her asymmetric chest will see the women around her wearing bras that make symmetrical breasts out of uneven ones. Unconfined breasts are not visible to the public eye so naturally, when a woman’s breasts do not have the perfectly round shape seen so much in public life, she will perceive something is wrong with them, or be shocked at the sight of them, as Hochi was. The bra, practical as it is for support of the chest, perpetuates body image problems. The evidence for this lies in the booming plastic surgery industry. Breast augmentation was the most popular cosmetic surgery in 2015, and the number of procedures increased 31% from 2000 to 2015 (American Society of Plastic Surgeons).

The bra, as Hochi discovered, molds the breasts into a symmetrical shape, perhaps to the point of deceiving the wearer of her true breast shape. The only point of comparison most women have is in public, where women wear bras, so a woman concerned about her asymmetric chest will see the women around her wearing bras that make symmetrical breasts out of uneven ones. Unconfined breasts are not visible to the public eye so naturally, when a woman’s breasts do not have the perfectly round shape seen so much in public life, she will perceive something is wrong with them, or be shocked at the sight of them, as Hochi was.

 

 

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