10 Telling Signs You're Standing In Your Own Way
One of my favorite scenes from the (wow) 30-year-old rom-comWhen Harry Met Sally is when Sally's female BFF goes on and on about how her married lover isn't going to end his marriage. Every time Sally's friend Marie says, "I don't think he's ever going to leave her," and Sally replies with, "Of course he isn't," Marie immediately says, "You're right. I know you're right." And then stays anyway. For years. Fascinatingly enough, it wasn't until Marie let ole' boy go that she ended up with Harry's male BFF. It wasn't until she got out of her own way that what she truly desired manifested in her life—real love from a man who actually wanted to be her husband.
I've been there. Not when it comes to a married man (thank goodness!), but I've definitely remained in a relationship or situationship for way too long (see "What If You Love Someone You Can't Have?"). Hmph. Come to think of it, I've stayed on jobs, in "friendships" and even hung on to philosophies that, as Walt Whitman once put it, insults my own soul. And you know what? What I've come to recognize and accept is life is hard enough without my choosing to put up obstacles in my own life path. Life has enough turns, twists and plot twists that I don't need to be out here standing in my own way.
If that immediately garnered a deep and heartfelt "hallelujah" in your own spirit, but you're not quite sure if you're standing in your own way or not, here are 10 very telling signs that that is exactly what you are doing. The good news is there's no time like the present to…move.
1. You’re a Chronic Overthinker
If you put the word "overthinker" into your favorite search engine, you'll be hard-pressed to find any articles that say that it's a good thing to be. I actually read an article about it that had this title—"Are You an Overthinker? You've Been Poisoned". Personally, I think the biggest issues that come from overthinking is one, you end up creating dramas that don't even exist and two, you end up wasting a colossal amount of time in the process. Since when has being a drama queen (even if it's just in your own head) and not seizing the moments as they come ever worked (well) in anyone's favor?
Overthinking makes life so much harder than it ever has to be. That's why it tops my personal list of the main things that stands in our own way.
2. Self-Love Is Not a Daily Top Priority
There's a woman on YouTube who goes by the name Tonya TKO who calls herself a "self-love specialist". I like that term/title because I think it is something that all of us should aspire to be. And how can you know that you are not only loving yourself but loving yourself well? You pamper yourself. You know your purpose and you thrive in it. You trust yourself. You surround yourself with safe people (if you don't own Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't, get it ASAP. You will not regret it!). Your looks are not more important to you than your character. You have no problem removing any person, place, thing or idea that does you harm. You are self-compassionate. You are also self-forgiving. You're humble. You're authentic. You like peace and tranquility. You know how to rest. You live in the moment. You know how to celebrate yourself and others. You are constantly on the quest to learn how to love yourself better.
A lot of people who aren't able to make real progress, whether it be their personal or professional life, oftentimes are stagnant because they may have the right amount of education and resources; however, because they don't truly and fully love themselves, they don't believe in themselves enough to be bold enough to make a real impact. It's a real shame too because self-love is what can help them to do just that.
3. You Spend More Time in Other Folks' Business Than Your Own
There's a verse in the Bible that says, "…that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you." (I Thessalonians 4:11—NKJV). For the record, "minding your own business" isn't just about limiting the gossip that you read, the advice (especially if it's unsolicited) that you give or taking social media breaks from time to time (because social media will have you out here thinking that you've got the right to be all up in everybody's business!). What I have learned, sometimes the hard way, is it's also about not being more invested in someone's life than they are; especially if it's at the expense of taking care of your own responsibilities, goals and priorities.
As a marriage life coach, there have been so many times when I've found myself being more concerned about the fate of someone's relationship than the couple themselves. It would wreck me with worry and sometimes even fear. Then I had to learn that I am the life "coach", not the actual "players". If a couple truly wanted to "win", they were gonna have to show up. Accepting that brought more peace and balance into my life. Yet, before I did that, I was letting all kinds of things slide in my own world; things that I actually was responsible for.
So yeah, it's a good thing to be kind, caring and involved—to a point. But if you're so focused on someone else's life—online or off—to the point where yours isn't being properly tended to, you are sho 'nuf standing in your own way.
4. Your Boundaries with Toxic People Aren’t Clear
Here's a truth that a lot of us don't want to hear, but if you're sick and tired of standing in your own way, it must be said. Some of us keep getting mistreated by others because we're allowing them to do it. And we're allowing it by not putting any boundaries into place.
It took most of my adult life to realize that boundary-violators couldn't care less about the hurt and harm that they cause. If they did, they wouldn't violate in the first place. And so, the only way to break the cycle is to set some limits and then to be firm and unapologetic about them. Shoot, I'll take it one step further. Not only set them but to provide consequences for when they are violated in the future.
If you don't do that, you'll be standing in your own way, simply because you'll be spending (or is it wasting?) time healing from the damage these kinds of folks have caused rather than thriving as an individual. It's so counterproductive to inflict self-harm by constantly involving yourself with toxic individuals. The empowering thing about what I just said is you have the power to totally change this. Today if you want to.
5. You ALWAYS Put Emotion Over Logic
I must say, off top, that if you read this and immediately got all in your feelings, you are just the one who should finish this point. That said, there is nothing wrong with being emotional. It's a part of what makes us human. At the same time, there is such a thing as being too emotional. What does that look and live like? You criticize yourself a lot. You're hyper-sensitive to any kind of critique or criticism. You have knee-jerk reactions to pretty much any and everything. You overact to stuff. You're consumed with what others think of you. You cry at the drop a hat (and don't even know why you are doing it). You speak before you think. You're super self-conscious. You take everything personally. I could go on, but I think you get the gist. People who are like this tend to drain themselves and others. They also tend to stay stuck in life because unless they "feel" that they should or shouldn't do something, they don't.
Meanwhile, when you operate from a place of logic, you tend to factor in how current choices will affect future outcomes. You don't negate facts just so that you can coddle your feelings. You're attentive to details. You typically get straight to the point. You're big on personal responsibility and accountability. While your feelings may alert you to something, you rely on logic to come to a resolve.
Feelings are a good thing. But logic is what keeps your feelings from causing you to stand in your own way. The balance of the two is always a good thing.
6. You’re Not a “Goal Upgrader”
I believe that there are two kinds of people in this life. There are the ones who want to be a small fish in a big pond and those who want to be a big fish in a little pond. What I mean by that is some people would rather stay right where they are and remain in their comfort zone by only excelling in one thing or area—which is a "big fish"—rather than take risks and travel, meet new people and try new things—they are "small fishes". Or, another way to see it as they are "goal upgraders".
I'm not saying that we should be out here trying to be a jack of all trades. What I am saying, though, is all of us are multi-dimensional. Achieving a goal is cool. Once you have, though, now what? People who are constantly interested in, not being popular but being progressive, who like success but hate stagnation, they are the ones who are constantly knocking down obstacles and making real marks in this world. Nothing can stand in their way, not even themselves, because they are too focused on the next thing to remain "stuck" in the last one. They don't care about being a "big fish" with limitations. Being a "smaller fish" in a pond of numerous possibilities is just fine with them. Achievement means more than ego—and that always takes someone far.
7. You’re Impulsive
Impulsive spending. Talking too much. Being a pop-off. Being indecisive. Regretting a lot of past decisions. Being cyclic when it comes to bad habits and behavior. Doing things in excess. Having a bad (or quick) temper. Constantly making appointments/commitments and breaking them (which isn't good). Starting and stopping things at the drop of a hat. Engaging in lots of casual sex. Jumpin to conclusions a lot. Having a hard time being still and/or alone. "F—ck it" basically being a life motto.
If you really reflect on each of these things, I'm pretty sure you need no explanation from me about how you're standing in your own way by doing any—or all—of them. Let's move on to the next point.
8. You’re Unteachable
I'll tell you what. Social media has brought new meaning to "feeding the monster". It's like, so long as you're telling people how fabulous they are, it's all good. But the moment you provide a different perspective or food for thought, you need to be banished from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. No wonder there are articles out here like "Social Media Photo Overkill May Boost Narcissism", "Love Facebook? You Might Be an (Adaptive) Narcissist and Not Know It" and "OPINION: The Rise in Narcissism Through Social Media Is Harming Society".
When you have a sense of self-importance and entitlement; when you think that you have the right to share your opinion and perspective but you also feel that others don't (unless they agree with you); when you can't go one day without posting something because you crave the attention; when you only acknowledge praise but don't even take a moment to ponder criticism or pearls of wisdom—this not only defines narcissism, it leans towards arrogance and arrogant people are pretty unteachable.
Unteachable people stand in their own way because if you're not willing to learn, if you think that you're the only one who has something to "teach", you can't grow. If you don't grow, well...
9. You’ve Got an Excuse for Everything
An author and former stockbroker by the name of Jordan Belfort once said, "The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bulls--t story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it." Yeah, buddy. If you're someone who knows that you'd be a billionaire if you were paid for every excuse that you made, a read that's at least worth skimming is "7 Things You Really Need to Know About Excuses".
As I was checking it out, I thought about how excuses are basically the love language of procrastinators. As long as you're telling yourself or others that you've got a good reason for doing or not doing something (that you know good and darn well that you should be doing or not doing), how can all real progress ever be made? Or, as the author of the article said in two of their points, "The more you make excuses, the easier it is to make even more excuses," and "You can get good at making excuses or you can get good at execution; you can't do both."
That to-do list that you've got close-by? What's it gonna be? Excuses or execution? One keeps you from getting things done. The other…doesn't.
10. You Rarely Leave the Past Where It Is
Mick Jagger once said something about the past that, for the most part, I agree with—"The past is a great place and I don't want to erase it or to regret it, but I don't want to be its prisoner either." As far as what he said about not regretting it, well, I have my own take on that word (you can read more about that here). But as far as the rest of his point? I think the past serves a purpose. If we're paying attention, it can show us what to do and what not to do. At the same time, as I'm currently still healing from some things in my own past, if you're not intentional about processing your past and also moving towards your present, certain things can keep you bitter, unforgiving and super stuck.
It would be a shame if, 20 years from now, you realized that the reason why you didn't make the most of that time wasn't because of anything other than you standing in your own way. So, what are you gonna do? Stand or…move? Please choose wisely.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
What It Means To Find True Self-Love
How To Handle "Purpose Fatigue"
These Are The Things Self-Aware People Do Daily
6 Signs You Are WAY Too Self-Critical
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Better Off Braless: The Benefits Of Not Wearing A Bra More Often
Somewhere between the start of the pandemic and entering the late stages of my 20s, bras become less and less of a priority.
Within that span of time, I, like most of the world, spent my days inhabiting my small bubble, staying in the house with loose-fitting loungewear, and being on Zoom calls that only required me to be presentable from the neck up. So as the demand to have my breasts at their perkiest form, so did my commitment to wearing bras.
The relationship that most women have with their bras is… well, complicated. While society has led us to believe that they’re required for us to be deemed as “ladylike” and “neat,” many of us find the garment to be a bothersome (and optional) accessory at best.
From underwires that poke and dig at our sides to push-ups that spill over, the argument in support of bras has begun to wane over the last few decades, with women of all cup sizes asking themselves if it’s better to just go braless.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
“Many years ago, I ditched wired bras and opted for going braless out of a desire for freedom and celebrating natural human form,” multi-hyphenate Alyson Stoner tells xoNecole. The movement activist best known for their fly dance moves with the likes of Missy Elliott and on Step Up 2: The Streets, shares that when it comes to their bra selection, comfort is key. “As someone who enjoys moving their body, I found that I do want an underlayer that provides some support without interfering with comfort and mobility.”
A source of concern when choosing to go braless is whether or not the lack of support from a bra will, in turn, affect the firmness of one’s breast, resulting in early sagging. However, Sabrina Sahni, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, shares that breast sagging is a result of age, not whether you’ve ditched your bras.
“Sagging breasts – also called ptosis – generally occurs due to chronic aging,” she tells xoNecole. “The breast is made up of a combination of glandular and fibrous tissue and fat tissue. Over time, the glandular tissue may become replaced with fattier tissue, and that can lead to more sagging. Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that.”
"Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that."
Women with heavier breasts may find that going braless may have its set of drawbacks, but Dr. Sahni says that you should always pay attention to your comfort levels since bras are a garment designed to support your back and correct your posture. “Those with heavier or larger breasts who choose to go braless may actually have worsening back/neck/shoulder pain,” she says. “Wearing a bra may allow them to correct their posture and help alleviate tension on those muscle groups.”
“Women with larger breasts may benefit from wearing a well-fitted, supportive bra as it may alleviate things like upper back pain or neck pain,” she shares.
Listening to your body is key when choosing whether you want to toss out your bras forever or just for a day. The beauty in a woman’s body is that it will tell us what we need to know before we even have to ask. There are common misconceptions about tighter bras being linked to causing health issues like breast cancer.
And while studies do show that Black women are “twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer early when compared with Caucasian women,” the manifestation of this disease is predetermined by other varying factors.
“There are a lot of myths out there about going braless being better for breast cancer risk. It is completely false,” Dr. Sahni explains. “Whether or not you wear a bra does not have any bearing on your overall breast cancer risk. Ultimately, your risk is dependent on a variety of factors, including family history, your breast density, your lifestyle, and your reproductive history.”
If you’re looking for classic, weightless comfort that’s close to going braless, Alyson Stoner recommends Harper Wilde, a body-inclusive intimates brand on a mission to create a more comfortable world for womankind. They currently have a capsule collection with the intimates brand in partnership with their company, Movement Genius.
“Harper Wilde has been my go-to for years now because the materials are truly soothing on my sensitive skin, the amount of support feels like you're being gently hugged (not squeezed), and the styles are flattering and beautiful enough to wear as shirts or visible layers,” they say.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
The brand offers super soft, breathable cotton fabric in their Triangle and Scoop Bralettes ($40 each) that will put the bliss and comfort back in your bosom.
Dr. Sahni says that choosing to opt out of bras or keep them close to your chest “truly depends on the individual” but it should be understood that “wearing or not wearing a bra won't significantly impact your overall health.”
“Ultimately, it comes down to comfort. There are some women with chronic breast pain where perhaps changing their bras to something more supportive and well-fitted may help,” she says. “Alternatively, some women find that going bra-less will alleviate their breast pain. I tell women that they should choose a bra that is comfortable for them, feels supportive, and one that they can wear regularly.”
So whether you choose to free the tatas or wear a bra that feels like it’s barely there, remember to listen to your body because ultimately, the choice is yours.
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