• Kathy Coudle-King

An Uplifting Rant about a Saggy Subject


She has a townhouse with an elevator, a yacht, and a plane, but Barbie doesn't own a bra. Or, at least she doesn't wear one. Of course, she also doesn't have nipples. (Or labia, a vagina, or an asshole, but that's a blog for another day). So, is that why Mattel never felt she needed a bra? No nipples, no bra?


In the middle of a pandemic, the week after the death of trail blazer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, weeks before the biggest election in my lifetime, I want to talk about bras? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. You see, I think bras are a part of “the problem” which is gender inequality. Why the hell are women still wearing bras in Western and industrialized nations in 2020?


For running, stupid. You need a sports bra when you run. Duh. Okay, that explains .001% of my life.


Bras help reduce back pain caused by big ta-tas.

I am well aware of back pain, but the vast majority of women who wear bras do not have an F, E, or even a D cup. So, those women wear bras because ---?

Bras train your breasts to stay upright. No, they don't. Yes, they do. There's science to prove it. No, there's not. Show me.

I'll send you a link.

I'll tell you why women wear bras: Because of men.


We wear bras to hold up our tits so that men (and women) will look at our tits and say – “Those sure are some perky tits.” We wear bras to obliterate the imprint of our nipples because heaven forbid people think about women's nipples.

Did you know that Farah Fawcett’s poster sold out because the company did not airbrush out her nipples? Farrah fought to have them included – Go, Farrah!


Apparently, the world will collapse if men see the imprint of a woman’s nipples while she is walking through the chilly produce aisle. It's ridiculous, especially considering that men have nipples, too. The days of men wearing a t-shirt under their shirt are waning, and we don't ask them to wear a bra.


Women are constantly protecting men from anticipated embarrassments. It begins when girls first begin to “develop.” Sometimes the girl goes to her parent and asks to go bra shopping. But sometimes the mother takes the girl bra shopping because her daughter’s breast buds are believed to be some sort of affront to the men in the house – or the boys in her class. What the hell does that say about men? What does it say about women’s perception of men? You know what it says, and it’s down right creepy.


Maybe men in the U.S. have mommy issues. American women don’t nurse as long as women in other countries. So, maybe that’s the reason for the need to camouflage our nipples with bras and "breast petals". Heterosexual, American men catch sight of a female nipple and apparently it takes all their restraint to avoid latching on in public. Gay men seem to be able to resist the pull of the female nipple. Hmm.

But American women also show signs of discomfort when confronted by the female nipple clothed beneath a t-shirt or blouse. Wait -- is that -- is those -- nipples I spy? Is she even wearing a bra? I don't see any straps . . . How dare she not wear a bra! Who does she think she is?! She should be wearing one. Huh. Wait -- does this mean I don't have to wear one? I couldn't. Could I? So, what is it with the American nipple? Why is it so provocative?


Wait, which is more offensive to society – nipples or drooping breasts?


Hands down -- drooping breasts. There are bras that don’t have as much fabric so the nipple is still visible even though the droop is not. A little nip is okay, but drooping? Never.


However, here's the pickle: Large breasts are idealized in America, but let’s face it, folks: There’s no fighting gravity, and as they say, "The bigger they are, the [further] they fall."

When I first got married, I had a “C” cup. My husband said they were like “ripe peaches”. After my first baby, my husband said they were like “luscious cantaloupe”. After birthing and nursing my fourth baby, I am a bodacious Double-D and my husband has given up on the fruit metaphors. Smart man.


Weight gain and nursing for a total of 7 years – yeah, I don’t do anything halfway -- mean my breasts are low and loose. When I stop to remember that I nourished and sustained the early lives of four human beans (and continue to supplement the baking industry) a couple of sagging appendages is a small price to pay. Society should laud the mother who nursed her babies at the aesthetic “detriment” of her breasts. They should reward her, but instead they mock her, sell her a boob job, or an expensive and uncomfortable bra.


WARNING: SKIP THIS PARAGRAH IF SWEARING OR THE PHRASE “BALL SACKS’ OFFENDS YOU

Of course, it’s not just nursing mothers who deal with drooping breasts. Aging causes the tissue to get thinner, the muscles get looser, and the bra straps get wider. Yank ‘em up, ladies! Under no circumstances admit that gravity exists! Use a pulley system if you have to, but do not – I repeat do not give into the reality that is dragging them down! It will undermine your credibility! It will brand you as – (gasp) -- old. It will deem you un-fuckable to those who never question their own fuckability. Even men with a dangling ball sack, pathetic comb overs, and a lawn on their back will weigh in on your droop if you don’t wear your bra. Egad! The horror!


DONE. CONTINUE READING, PLEASE.

(A little something to clear your mind of unpleasant images.)

Why am I so up in arms about bras this week? During the months I was working entirely from home, I went bra-less for most of the day. Sometimes I donned one for important meetings. Sometimes I just tilted the camera higher. The point is, I was bra-less more than I was bra-mored. And I liked it. A lot. It made me aware of how uncomfortable my bra is. How it actually hurts where it cuts into my back. How it has scarred my shoulders and the wire has poked the tender place beneath my arm pit. It made me ask, why the hell am I wearing this thing? It’s 2020. Women don’t have pay equity, we don’t have equal representation in government, and we still haven’t had a woman president in a country that pats itself on the back for being progressive. But how the hell are we going to smash the patriarchy while we are still worried if our tits are perky? I mean – something’s got to give and I say, let’s start with the bras!


Who let the girls out?

We did! Let gravity do its thang, ladies. Let’s stop spending so much money on an UNDER garment that men are not expected to purchase or wear, and we receive no tax break for buying. Let’s save that $20 – and yes, $100 for a bra and send it to Emily's List to help put a woman in public office.


Too radical for ya? Am I sounding like a bra burning feminist? You do know that is a myth, don't you? Protesters at the 1968 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City threw bras, girdles, make-up, and hair spray into the "Freedom Trash Can," but they couldn't get a permit for a fire. (Give a listen to a 1st person account here.) I wish they had burned them, maybe I'd be writing about something else right now. (Like why you should spay and neuter your pets.)


Look, I sound all brave and shit, but I understand. I do. I am going to have to do this in baby steps. First, I’ll wear a big sweatshirt. Then, maybe a camisole, then a thick cotton tunic . . . but one day, one day I will take the leap and let ‘em swing! My mother did it – when she was 80. Hey, late bloomers run in my family.


Bottom line: A woman going without a bra in public is not considered acceptable in the U.S. yet it’s the first thing she takes off when she walks in the door for the night. Bras are definitely a cultural mandate in this country; if they weren’t, women in developing nations would create bras to prevent pain and/or chafing, and they don’t. Okay, I can’t speak for all developing countries because I don’t know. However, if anyone would like to fund my research around the world, I can pack a bag in 15 minutes. Oh. Right. No country wants my American ass right now. Or my tits. Shit.


Writing challenge: If you identify as a woman, write about your first bra. What feelings do you associate with the memory. If you identify as a man, what are your thoughts on bras? Should girls/women be expected to wear them?

Frances Perkins

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