What happened after my boobs went viral

If you’re reading this, it’s too late: you’ve seen my boobs online


October 2014. Somewhere between Folkestone and Calais.

I’m awkwardly supine on the back row of a lengthy continental Megabus journey from London to Paris. I decide to take off my bra to ameliorate the comfort of my nap.

Breast liberty was potent and I was shortly addicted.

Impulsively, out of boredom (and narcissism), I wrote an article about the liberty of the feminine form, about freeing myself from the shackles of the commercial patriarchy, about shedding the prison of physical expectation – my week without a bra.

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The good news is that week became my life and my nipples are still very much freed.

My Parisian smuggled peanuts caused quite a stir.  For unfathomable reasons the article – written in fifteen minutes in a busy university corridor, with a pixelated selfie thrown in for good measure – tapped into the pulsating synapses of the internet and went viral.

“My week without a bra” racked (pun intended) up over two million views. I’m basically an internet sensation.

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Dem nipples are WELL perky

And in a move that will give hope to all lurking male internet users everywhere, I actually went on a number of successful dates with one particular reader of my article. How fucking 2015 is that.

Here’s what happened next.

My mum rang me angrily.

My mum rang me again understandingly.

My Twitter following multiplied tenfold.

Lots of guys messaged me online. Like… loads.

Let’s take a stroll through the gallery of male enthusiasm, and learn something about failure.

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No comment.

twitscreenshot2Bold, long ginger haired stranger.

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Not even my GP calls me Miss Shaw. And what the FUCK is a sapiosexual? Like, really?

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Unsuccessful – negging doesn’t work.

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Nothing really that wrong with this – just uninspired. Work harder.

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Poor guy. Really thought this was gonna work. Childish and restrictive.

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Not really sure what to say about this one.

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Ever so slight creep vibes…

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*tips fedora* Milady.

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Direct, to the point, also: no.

My intentions are not cruel. My tone is not mocking. I just want to teach people how not to do things. Briefly: I’m too lazy to place this in a context of sexism and feminism, and these are my personal accounts, not LinkedIn, so don’t even let those “f” and “n” sounds begin to form on the edge of your tongue.

And in the real world? Bralessness is freedom. As summer draws to a close, I’ve managed to avoid that squidgy mould that accumulates in the crease of the underboob and subsequently goes crusty, and I don’t have any tan lines.

Once, a bloke in South London did audibly cry at me, in either horror, shock, or jubilation: “Those nipples are WELL perky” but I was thwarted in my attempt to tweet Everyday Sexism by my depleted 3G data reserves.

Needless to say, just because you might see a slight outline of areola, doesn’t a) make it public property or b) mean I need reminding of the acuteness of my nipples. I didn’t just forget to put a bra on today.

Aside from a few snide “is it cold in here?” remarks from the more embarrassing forms of humanity, my chest remains to draw the same amount of attention it did as before (read: not much.)

Lisbon 2015. Last week. Across the square in Baixo-Chiado. “Are you Ellie Shaw?” An actual fan (?) approaches me. “I follow you on Instagram. I’m a DJ from Porto working the Vogue Night Out. You should come to the party I’m working at tonight.”

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I walk away from this encounter bemused, smug, slightly shell-shocked, but mainly quite pleased with myself. I have a fan.

No bra, no problems.

Ellie Shaw is a finalist at the University of Oxford. She doesn’t even want to be a journalist, she wants to be an actress, and she doesn’t know why she’s still doing this shit.

For more of this follow @ellie_shaw.