The one good thing from lockdown? The collective unhooking of the bra

75 per cent of students are wearing bras less after the pandemic

If there’s one thing women have a shared experience of it’s bras. From your early teenage years getting measured for a starter bra in Debenhams to comparing sizes over school lunches to asking your mates which bra looks best for a late night hookup, bras bring women together for better or worse. And generally it’s for the worst with conversations revolving around the pain of a bra digging in, lack of support or finding a decent looking bra if you’re bigger than a C cup. All women and those who wear bras know the relief which comes from unhooking your bra at the end of a long day. And it seems the pandemic has made us all take a collective sigh of relief and ditch the bras for good.

But why has it taken many nationwide lockdowns to make us realise the bra is over? The bra or some earlier form of the bra has been around for centuries. They possibly date back all the way to ancient Greece with references to girdles made in Homer’s The Iliad. Basically since time began we’ve been wrapping, confining, entrapping and controlling the way our boobs have been seen by others. And now we’ve had enough.

It seems like everyone is finally over the bra with even celebrities like Gillian Anderson proclaiming she will never wear a bra again: “I’m so lazy and I don’t wear a bra any more. I can’t wear a bra. I’m sorry, I don’t care if I reach my belly button, my breasts reach my belly button, I’m not wearing a bra anymore.”

We asked over 2,500 students and 75 per cent of them said they had been wearing a bra less since the end of lockdown. But what’s caused the sudden abandonment of the bra?

Lockdown made causal dressing the norm. Everyone embraced sweatpants, baggy T-shirts and jeans were a thing of the past. Now life is getting back to normal and we can actually start to dress up again, the jeans and going out tops have been pulled from the back of the wardrobe. But the bra? Yeah it’s being left in the drawer.

After so many months of not wearing one, people just can’t be bothered to put them back on again. And in the depths of summer there’s nothing less appealing than wearing a hot sweaty sticky bra in the park. Summer clothing just isn’t designed for bras. Strappy tops, crop tops and certain dresses are just ruined by the look of bra straps sticking out.

And it turns out despite years of myths of saggy boobs, not wearing a bra is actually fine for your health. Dr Deanna Attai told there’s no danger to being braless. She said: “The short answer is that it’s not dangerous to go without a bra.” There is currently no evidence that wearing or not wearing a bra will impact your chances of getting breast cancer. Dr Attai also emphasised your boobs will sag regardless of your decision to go braless or not. Fantastic. However she did stress for some women who experience a lot of breast pain, doctors will recommend they wear one.

Practicality and comfort are two big obvious reasons why people are abandoning bras, but for some ditching the bra can actually be a lot deeper than an inconvenient strap. Of the 2,500 students we polled, 63 per cent of them said lockdown made them reevaluate wearing a bra. One of those was Southampton student Emily who said during lockdown she really started to feel more comfortable with her body and therefore didn’t feel as much need for a bra.

She told The Tab: “I’ve become quite comfortable with my body since the pandemic started and I felt less concerned with what others thought and more concerned with what I thought. And bras are just uncomfortable and caused me more pain than they did support. I’m not saying I’ll never wear a bra again but I just see it as an optional item of clothing as opposed to an essential one.”

There is a certain assumption that going braless is only for those who are part of the itty bitty titty community and 75 per cent of people we asked agree. However a number of people with bigger boobs are also abandoning their bras.

Bristol student Olivia said she’s only wearing bralettes now despite having big boobs as she doesn’t feel the pressure to make her boobs look perky anymore.

She said: “I have big boobs and I still don’t wear a bra, but I must say I barely get any actual support and I can only wear very specific bralettes because half of them don’t work at all. Bras are just uncomfortable and I don’t feel the need to make my boobs look all perky and nice because to be honest I don’t care anymore.”

Olivia’s feeling of not caring anymore is a common one. Lockdown has made us reevaluate so many fashion and beauty choices we were making pre pandemic including questioning who we actually wear a bra for. When no one else was around during isolation people generally didn’t put on a bra, which asks the question who is benefitting from me wearing a bra?

For some it’s still necessary to wear a bra like Edinburgh student Sophie who said it’s uncomfortable to even walk up the stairs without some kind of support. But for many girls and women the choice to not wear a bra is incredibly liberating.

Durham student Georgia told The Tab: “I definitely don’t feel pressured anymore to wear one, which is so freeing.”

Featured image credit before edits via Dainis Graveris on Unsplash  

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