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Why Shame Women Who Go Braless?

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

I’m baffled by news stories shaming female celebrities or other women who go braless. The headlines are written to shock and meant to embarrass and chide them, as if they forgot their bras or suffered a wardrobe malfunction.

It’s assumed that the  women in question are committing some kind of fashion sin. The strangest part is that, in most instances, a bra can’t be worn with whatever outfit they’re wearing. It’s a reasonable fashion choice, not faux pas.

The best example of braless mass media outrage occurred when Drew Barrymore wore a green Gucci gown to the 2006 Golden Globes, sans support. She finally felt compelled to apologize to the designer for they way she looked in his dress. Really? What difference does it make if her boobs hung low or hung at all? Is it necessary to tear down a woman’s body if she chooses not to wear a bra?

women who go bralessDrew Barrymore, 2006 Golden Globes
Headlined “Don’t Follow Barrymore’s Braless Blunder”
Image via SheFinds

I’ve written about the consequences of not wearing a bra in a professional setting. Surveys show that it can reflect poorly on you and hurt your position in a company. What I’m talking about here are women on public Red Carpets, or simply out shopping or running errands on their personal or private time.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, when women rejected bras as symbols of oppression, the choice to not wear a bra was viewed as empowering. Fashion designers embraced the look and it was seen on runways and incorporated into mainstream clothing lines. Today, models still show designer clothing unadorned by cups and straps. And in the case of couture fashion it’s acceptable for celebrities, like Rhianna, to appear in public without a bra.

Yet in 2014, most women daring to wear an outfit sans boob constraint are called out. It’s easy to find examples of this, nearly every day. In the photo below, it’s implied that Michelle Bridges is pushing some type of fashion limit by going bra-free in this fairly conservative evening gown.

women who go braless“Michelle Bridges Goes Braless” via Daily Mail

Maybe these media and blogger critiques have more to do with a view of the female nipple. Fear of women’s nipples is widespread (especially in the case of public breastfeeding) and has launched a #freethenipple movement. But these no-bra-wearing offenses occur when nipples are covered or poke out under bras. So there’s something more frightening about boobs on the loose.

women who go bralessMiley Cyrus, headlined “Fashion Fail!”
Image credit OK!

Is the media trying to protect the general public? There’s little concern for accidental nudity when braless, and an entire double-sided sticky tape industry exists to keep boobs in place. No woman “forgets” to wear a bra and its absence is intentional. It’s a personal or lifestyle choice. Some women enjoy not being confined or constrained. There’s no law against not wearing a bra.

I see braless women everyday; walking down the street, at the mall, or in grocery stores. No one appears offended or gives them dirty looks. The public doesn’t care. So why does the media shame women who go braless?

What do you think? Would you ever go braless? Are you offended by women who don’t wear bras? Should the media stop focusing on stories of women who go braless?

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