Off the hook: A new generation is doing away with bras

Off the hook: A new generation is doing away with bras

Bralessness always gets a lot of salacious criticism in the media for showing off their curves, especially when young women – famous women – are photographed with real nipples. Pictures of British actress Florence Pugh in a pink Valentino creation in Italy in July – due to the fabric her nipples appeared veiled in – caused much media meltdown. It was reported in an Australian outlet that Perth nowaccompanied by a “WARNING – GRAPHIC IMAGES” statement in all caps, as if the image represented a decapitated Isis rather than a young woman in couture sitting next to Anna Wintour at a fashion show.

Another, with unintended hilarity, dubbed other high-profile women who went braless — Gigi Hadid, Lily-Rose Depp, Zoë Kravitz — as “the elite of perky boobs.” So far, so Benny Hill. Other members of the PBE include Gwyneth Paltrow (a longtime member), Rita Ora, Dua Lipa, Lily Allen, Kristen Stewart, Sharon Stone, Sienna Miller, Alexa Chung, Poppy Delevigne and most recently Gillian Anderson, who said with refreshing unambiguity: “It I don’t care if my breasts reach my belly button. I’m not wearing a bra, it’s just too uncomfortable.”

Oh well. “I took my bra off” has long been a lady’s shorthand for “I’m not going out today” — you come home, you hang out, you exhale. Just like our grandmothers with their 18-hour belts and our great-grandmothers with their corsets. As each female generation advances, limiting elements once considered crucial continue to be pushed aside.

But 21st century bralessness is not a political act for Gen Z like it was for the Boomers in the 1970s; it’s more that they don’t let themselves be disturbed. To attribute a political meaning to bra freedom is to miss the point of their relaxed, open-minded and accepting attitude towards gender; To clarify, I ask my in-house Gen Z expert, my 21-year-old daughter. What does bralessness mean? is it for everyone Who does and who doesn’t?

“It’s all about boobs,” she says. “I wear a bra top because I have big breasts and I don’t want to smack my face with it. My friends with smaller breasts don’t mind. It depends on the person and their body. It’s not a thing. Why are you making a thing of it?” Bralessness, she says, is the same as girls with hairy armpits, a part of living in an “open queer era” where the rigidity of gender, like the rigidity of wearing bras, is loosening Has. “It used to be people like Beyoncé all waxed and in corsets, or Britney in that sexed school uniform, but now it’s about comfort. And freedom. We wear what we like.”

Since the pandemic, sales of sports bras have risen and sales of underwired bras have fallen. We are all Gillian Anderson now, and no longer willing to spend hours of our day being enveloped in something that evokes such relief upon its removal; I have a bra—wireless—for weddings and funerals, and soft, stretchy yoga tops for the rest of my life. We’ve come a long way from the head-’em-up-and-ride-’em-out era of the Wonderbra personified by Eva Herzigova’s Hello Boys billboards in 1994.

Inevitably, with any societal change, even one as seemingly benign as women pushing for the desexualization of their own nipples so that male and female nipples have equal status, moral panic still ensues. Instagram has a total nipple ban for women but not for men (barring breastfeeding/mastectomies). Which seems extraordinary in 2022, reflecting the 1938 case of Helen Hulick, the young woman who was jailed by an LA judge nearly a century ago for wearing pants in a courtroom (her home was broken into by two men but she was the one who ended up in jail after refusing to wear a dress during testimony).

Gillian Anderson arrives at the launch of Paramount+ UK at Outernet London on June 20, 2022 in London, England.

In 2012, two years before the release of her film of the same name, Lina Esco launched the #FreeTheNipple campaign in New York to address the inequality that men’s nipples are allowed in public but women are viewed as sexual or lewd or both; Her goal was to decriminalize and destigmatize female breast nudity in a country where topless female nudity — even on beaches — can be a criminal offense. In 2018 in Florida, a 17-year-old girl, Lizzy Martinez, was pulled from class for not wearing a bra under her baggy T-shirt (she was sunburned); The principal told her that she was “distracting” male class members and told her to put band-aids over her nipples.

TThis is what drives Instagram – and Facebook – gender bias; puritanical misogyny embedded in mainstream US culture, a place where the female nipple was legally defined as the erogenous zone. Tell that to a hungry baby. To highlight the absurdity of the social media ban, women have posted pictures of themselves with cut-out stickers of male nipples placed over their own female nipples. Not even Rhianna, Miley Cyrus or Chrissy Teigen’s nipples were allowed to remain on these platforms. The accepted narrative is that civilization – and breasts – will collapse without guns.

A fifteen-year French study published in 2013 found that this is not the case, at least not for breasts. “Bras are a false necessity,” said lead researcher, Besançon University sports science professor Jean-Denis Rouillon. After measuring the breast changes in 330 women, his team found that women who went bra-free consistently had their nipples lifted by 7 millimeters for every year they went bra-free. They also discovered that braless women had firmer breasts and faded stretch marks.

They also found no evidence that bras relieve back pain. According to the study, “The results indicated that the breasts would increase in elasticity and support themselves when a bra was not used. Bras limit the growth of supportive breast tissue, causing the breast to wither and degrade faster.” It may be that in another generation, the bra, like the corset, will have transitioned from mainstream everyday wear to special occasion or fetish wear; This was predicted by Danish fashion historian Rudolf Broby-Johansen in his 1969 article obituary for the bra. Women are moving towards comfort and ease rather than restriction, accelerated by lockdown, the normalization of work from home (WFH) and the ubiquity of athletic wear. High heel sales fell 71% in 2020.

And yet, as Gen X parents of Gen Z daughters, are we transferring our own conditioning—that bras are essential—to our girls? In all likelihood, the majority of older women have internalized the sexualization of our own bodies, including our nipples; How else to explain the insanity of being more comfortable with plunging necklines, chest straps, push-up bras, and sexualized cleavage than the ordinariness of going out without a bra at all? And why do we wear bra tops to prepubescent girls? Why do little girls wear bikini tops?

As Lizzy Martinez, the teenage coed who was asked to put band-aids on her nipples, pointed out, it’s not her job to face the stares of male classmates who are “distracted” by her absence from a bra; it’s up to you to change her gaze so that she stops sexualizing you. If your daughter goes braless, it’s because she’s confident in her body; Instill that confidence in your daughter and rebuke the unwanted male gaze. Ask your daughter what Lizzo would do.

#hook #generation #bras

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