I like boobs.
Who doesn’t like boobs?
Most people like boobs. I have a fake-hubby who is gay who likes boobs. In the words of the inimitable Tim Minchin:
Fuck, I love boobs, though!
I just really love them.
Fuck, I love boobs, though.
I just want to rub them!
He just really loves boobs! I’ve included the video below because it’s hilarious–but true.
The reason I’m thinking about boobs is because there was a letter to Alison (Ask A Manager) from a busty woman who does not wear a bra to work. She has been chastised by her manager for not wearing one and told she has to put one on. She asked her male coworkers if they were ever told to wear one, and they said no. So, she brought that up with her supervisor.
That did not go over well, as you might have imagined. I knew how the comments were going to go because even in the year of our ruler supreme, 2023, so many American women think that not wearing a bra is unprofessional. I knew it from previous posts on the site, but I had hoped that after three years of a global pandemic in which many women set the girls free whilst working from home, there would be a little more balance about wearing a bra at work. But, no. It’s still, I CAN’T DEAL WITH NIPPLES AHHHH SEX AHHHHHHH YOUR BOOBS JIGGLED. And this is from other women.
So many busty women commented on how they couldn’t imagine not wearing a bra and how horrifying it was. I will just say it here. It’s sad to me that this is the mentality. Women used to say the same thing about corsets and other things that restrained and reshaped the body. Oh, and the ‘the boobs are lower without’ canard? Nope. There was a 15-year study back in 2013 that showed that women who did not wear bras actually had perkier boobs. The theory is that constantly wearing a bra weakens the musscles in the pecs, which makes sense. Here’s the study, and it’s more nuanced than that, of course.
Bottom line, though, is that there is absolutely no health benefit to wearing a bra, so it’s strictly psychological. And in the study, he does say that if you’ve worn a bra for decades, you probably shouldn’t just toss it now.
Since I work from home, I did not wear a bra on the regular for many years. Around five years ago, I just stopped wearing them completely. And I have never felt better. My reasons for stopping were sensory–I hate wearing clothing so the less, the better. When I wear a bra, no matter how comfortable it is, I cannot stop thinking about the fact that I am wearing one.
Taking it off has been such a relief. I don’t even wear one for my Taiji class or practicing at home. But! I can understand that for some women, it’s more comfortable to wear one than not to, especially if they’re doing vigrous activity. For a desk job, though, I just don’t think that counts.
More than one woman talked about how mortified they’d be if they had an accident at work and their shirt ripped (if they weren’t wearing a bra). I mean. That’s just sad to me. Boobs are such an innocuous part of the body. It really should not be more embarrassing than a hole in the elbow of your shirt, really.
I know boobs have been sexualized. But that’s not the fault of the boobs! Or the people who have the boobs. It’s interesting as someone who currently identifies as agender/genderqueer and has huge boobs because in the case of the letter writer, it’s specifically because she’s a woman. Currently, the law is that it’s fine to differentiate between a male dress code and a female dress code as long as there is not an undue burden on one gender (women. Let’s face it. It’s usually women).
I’m hoping that as gender diversity becomes more widespread, gender-specific dress codes will go the fuck away. I’m not convinced it will happen in my lifetime (and, let’s face it, who knows how long that will be?), but I’m hoping at some point, we will look back and shake our heads in amazement that this was such a big thing.
The reason for the title of this post is because someone in the comments of the article said this was not a hill to die on. Actually, several women said it. In very strident tones. With a side helping of ‘boobs are gross, don’t make me look at them’. From OTHER WOMEN. I just wanted to emphasize that because it’s something we don’t talk about often enough–women are often the most zealous about upholding the patriarchy.
It’s discouraging, though, because this blog is progressive in general and seeing so many women disparaging other women for not wearing bras seems really out of place. All this heatedness for something that in the end doesn’t really matter.
I saw in the comments that this was a retail job, which makes more sense as to why her supervisor is pushing it so hard. Customers have probably been complaining, and we all know that customers are coddled to an unreasonable extent in many situations (‘customer is always right’). Which means it’d be harder to cover it up with, say a blazer. Hm. In the letter itself, though, it says the office, so I don’t know.
She shouldn’t have to, though. Completely cover them up, I mean. She’s wearing a shirt that’s not transparent. That should be enough. Women in the comments were talking about stiff nipples and jiggle, and all I could think of, who the fuck cares? Americans are such fucking prudes. Also, the self-hatred is very sad to me. So many women expressing horror at the tiniest bit of jiggle or the slightest hint of nip. THat must be exhausting to hate yourself that much. I’m sure they would say they were talking about other women, but someone who felt that much hatred for other women must feel it for themself as well.
They can say that they didn’t hate women all they wanted–their attitudes said something different. And they scolded other women for being too strident about it. Someone said she didn’t wear bras because the concept of it was invented by a man. Someone said indignantly, “Do you not wear jeans, either???” Which the woman then said that she didn’t. I don’t wear jeans, either, because they don’t fit (and because I hate the way they feel, too).
Plus the women who are pro-wearing bras at work are just so unpleasant about it. Not all, but a significant amount. I get it, though. It’s the same when I decided not to have children. I would tell women who asked me, and I would say it in a very matter-of-fact tone. “No, I don’t have/want children.” A notable minority would get very mad and accuse me of thinknig they were stupid/bad for wanting/having children. Nope. Don’t care at all about your child status.
It wasn’t until a decade or so later that I realized why they got so mad. Me questioning the status quo (or more accurately, ignoring it) made their decision to follow it perhaps unwillingly a mockery. In the post at AAM, there’s a woman who first denigrated three of her female coworkers (in a male-dominated industry) who she deemed as being too sexual for the office. It was a really nasty rant that ended with ‘young wimminz these dayz thinking they can have equal rights’. She had to suffer, so why shouldn’t they?
It’s the same thing about my choice not to have children. If they had to suffer through having children, so did I. If not, then I at least should have the decency to be miserable about it and apologetic. I wasn’t. I was positively ebullient about the realization that I did not have to have children.
So, in this case, the fact that those of us who don’t wear bras and aren’t apologetic about it is threatening to those who feel they have to wear bras. I’ll write more on this in a future post.