'Young Thang Chronicles': 4 Pros And 4 Cons To Dating A Younger Man
Yeah buddy. Let's do this. Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me if, due to my age and because I've never been married before, would I be open to dating or marrying a younger man. While I personally think that what qualifies as being any real significant age difference is a guy who is more than five years younger than I (or you) and since I've never done that before, I had to give the question some real thought. The main reason is because I know a lot of people, both in my family and out, who have done this and boy — has it been quite the roller coaster ride.
So, let's explore. When it comes to dating a man who is more than five years your junior, like most things in life, there are highs and potential lows; especially if you want to go the distance. And since I'm all about an ounce of prevention being worth far more than a pound of cure, there's no time like the present to get real — about both.
PRO #1 of Dating a Younger Man: So Much Is Fresh, New and Exciting
If there is a man who happens to be tiptoeing in and reading this, please know that I mean absolutely no disrespect when it comes to the comparison that I'm about to make. That said, what's one of the most fun things about watching a newborn baby grow up? Everything is new to them which makes it enjoyable for us to witness. Along these same lines, when you've had a few years up on someone, there's a really good chance that there are some "been there, done that" experiences that you've had that they haven't yet.
Still, to go through those things all over again while seeing it through their eyes, that can be fresh, new, and exciting. At the same time, because younger people oftentimes like to take more risks, they may be able to convince you to try things that you would've never considered — or thought yourself out of — had they not been in your life to make the recommendation. And that can make living the current season of your life super exhilarating.
PRO #2 of Dating a Younger Man: There’s a Great Chance Your Libidos Will Be in Sync
I'm pretty sure you've heard somewhere that a part of the reason why a lot of older women and younger men "vibe" so well is because their sexual peaks gel together, extraordinarily so. While it has been reported that a lot of men peak in their 20s as we peak in our 40s, there is also data to support that many men get their "second run" in their 50s, so to say that you should be with a younger guy because the sex is automatically going to be better isn't necessarily the case. Honestly, as a marriage life coach and doula, what I've observed about the sexual compatibility of older women and younger men is multifaceted.
For one thing, once a woman has hit menopause (check out "Sex And Menopause. What You Should Know."), if there's one thing that she doesn't have to worry about, it's getting pregnant which can cause her to relax in sex a whole lot more (you'd be AMAZED by how many men have told me that the sex got so much better once their partner knew they couldn't get pregnant again under any conditions). Secondly, a lot of times younger folks are still trying to figure out what works for them and what doesn't, so they may be more open to trying "unconventional things"; when you pair that up with the experience of an older partner, it can really cause the sex to go totally off of the charts.
Third, a lot of younger guys have higher testosterone levels, so while older men may be able to "love you down" well the first round or two, after that, they might be ready to call it a night while younger ones can oftentimes be like energizer bunnies. So yeah, if you feel like you've got your second wind and you're in your late 40s-50s, this can definitely be a solid reason to consider hooking up with someone who is younger than you are.
PRO #3 of Dating a Younger Man: Younger Men Tend to Me More “Flexible”
On the heels of what I just said, while it might seem like I'm talking about sex, I'm actually talking about how much younger men tend to be less set in their ways than older men and ourselves. Even if you're 50 and you're dating someone who's 30, while he is still a grown-ass man, you've got 20 more years of experience and came-to-the-conclusion resolves than he does which means he's still probably more willing to compromise than a man who is the same age as you may be. Plus, since no relationship really works or lasts without flexibility, dating a younger man could help you to go the distance with someone else while also teaching you to be a little less "set in your ways" (or dare I say it…stubborn).
PRO #4 of Dating a Younger Man: Less Years (Usually) Means Less “Baggage”
I'm not sure why the word "baggage" triggers so many people because, if you're human, you have some. And yes, the more years that you've been on this planet, the more baggage you've probably got. That's why I don't get people who have a hard time (sometimes to the point of being patronizing and condescending as all get out) with getting involved with people who haven't slept with a lot of folks or dated a ton of people. Although we live in a culture that seems to jeer at innocence and inexperience, I personally find a lot of it to be quite refreshing. If you're someone who can help a younger man to learn more about love, to see the world through another set of experienced eyes, or to consider other possibilities — what's wrong with that?
If you end up casually dating a younger man, it evolves into something serious and he's never been in something as significant before — what's wrong with that? If until you, he's never gotten so many stamps on his passport or knew that intimacy could be the way that he's had it with you — what's wrong with that? While a benefit to having a lot of life experience could be wisdom (wisdom isn't automatic; it's a choice), a benefit to not having much at all is that you're a clean(er) slate that is willing to be less (potentially) jaded and cynical. For the life of me, I don't know how this isn't a huge plus. I really and truly don't.
CON #1 of Dating a Younger Man: You’re in Different Seasons/Stages of Your Life
Recently, while channel surfing, I stopped at a particular reality show and then got super triggered because it hit a little too close to home. A woman, who is currently dating a younger man, was trying to convince him to help her to raise her young daughter while also trying to convince him to not want to have any kids of his own because she has already tied her tubes and doesn't want any more kids. While folks have the right to…want what they want, I'm not sure there are too many better examples of what entitled actually looks like and I was triggered because I know someone who is just like this — wanted a man to help her with her two children yet couldn't give him any and still tried to make it look like a test of his love should be to marry her anyway. Selfish, selfish, selfish.
When you're out here casually dating a younger man, stuff like this isn't that big of a deal. Oh, but when you're considering a long-term commitment, discussing that an age gap can point to being at very different seasons and stages of life are extremely relevant. And when it comes to love, something that isn't discussed, nearly enough, is sometimes you've got to love someone else enough to let them go, so that they can be with someone who can meet the needs that they have — the needs that you don't want to meet, no matter how much you want to be with them.
Yes, being an older woman means you need to be grown about ish. Please make sure that you are.
CON #2 of Dating a Younger Man: It Can Be a Challenge to Not Emasculate Him
I have a theory and I believe I've shared it before on this platform — the reason why so many people claim to love their kids more than their spouse is that they can control their children. Their spouse? Not so much. As far as being controlling goes, there are exceptions to this rule which is why I once wrote "Are You His Partner Or His Second Mama?" on here. Unfortunately, some people think that a part of their job in a romantic relationship is to boss people around and act like a second parent when trying to change a person should never be the objective (check out "The Right Relationship IMPROVES Not CHANGES You").
If you're with a younger man, you have to be careful to still see him as a man and to honor him as such because just like you would feel some type of way if he treated you like an "old lady", he has every right to be offended if you treat him like he's a little boy.
Oh, and if the first thing that comes to your mind is "If he doesn't want to be treated like one, he shouldn't act like one," that's the first clue that you probably need to date someone older. People who are comfortable with being condescending are problematic on so many levels and if his actions have you feeling justified in degrading him, you don't need to be seeing him anyway (if you feel otherwise, reflect again over the whole control thing).
CON #3 of Dating a Younger Man: You May Be Dismissive of His Long-Term Plans
In another article that I wrote for here, I mentioned how one of my favorite movies isPrime (Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Bryan Greenberg). In it, Uma was dating someone, I believe they were 10 years apart. Something that I really liked about the film is that she clearly came along to encourage him to pursue his life's passion for painting; he might not have without her presence in that season of his life. At the same time, she was entering the age where it gets harder for women to conceive while he was just starting to connect the dots on what he wanted his career path to look like. And while he was willing to "give her a baby," he wasn't doing it because he was at a point in his life where he wanted to be a father; he simply cared for her and didn't want to lose her. Wisdom teaches that, while sweet and endearing, that reason simply isn't good enough.
My point? Suppose Uma's character had been so selfish that she didn't care. And then he wouldn't be able to paint full-time because he would need to figure out how to be a parent and provide for another person? That could've hindered him from fulfilling his path and purpose. Oftentimes, when dating someone younger, we can be tempted to overlook stuff like this. That's why, my two cents would be, that in the beginning stages of a relationship with someone younger if you see that it really could be heading somewhere, ask him what his five and 10-year plans look like. Then be really serious about if in being with you there is room for compromise or he would have to surrender more than he should in the long run. Because if it's Door B, I'll just say that I have listened to far too many men who have harbored resentment because their partner required them to put their dreams on the backburner, indefinitely, in order to be with them. Rarely does that work in anyone's favor. Trust me.
CON #4 of Dating a Younger Man: Maturity and Stability Aren’t Always or Necessarily Their Strong Suit
Some of y'all and this disdain for video games, boy (LOL). If more folks knew the benefits that come with playing them (not obsessively but playing them nonetheless), you might be more encouraging of your partner's excitement over them. Video games reduce stress, help to boost memory, can assist with problem-solving and so much more. That's why, one of my running jokes with some of my wife clients is, "You better let your husband play that game. He could be figuring out how to pay the rent while he's doing it." Where am I going with all of this? When I speak of a potential con of dating a younger man is dealing with his instability and/or immaturity, I'm not referring to stereotypical things. I'm talking about the fact that purely a lack of time could result in him not being mentally and emotionally where you are.
Case in point. I know a wife who married someone almost eight years younger than her. For years, she was constantly complaining about how he wasn't a good budgeter; how he needed to "grow up" in that area. Finally, one day I asked her what she was like with money at his age. As she went on about overdraft fees and paying bills late, she finally paused because she caught where I was coming from. How is it that she should be given time to "get herself together" while he shouldn't?
While a younger person dating someone older can oftentimes influence them to "grow up faster" in some ways, it really needs to be up to them, whether or not they want to do that instead of the older person constantly nagging, berating, or denouncing the person they are with for being what is obvious — younger than they are. Can we all bring some "ah-ha moments" and life hacks to others? Sure. But should we be mad that someone acts younger when they are younger? I mean, pardon the pun but that doesn't sound super mature…now does it?
This is the kind of topic that could go on for days. For now, I just wanted to drop a few things to think about should you be seriously contemplating a more-than-casual experience with a younger man. Because, as with everything in this world, it's got some good points and some things to consider long and hard. Please make sure that you do. For his sake (and time) as well as your own. Feel me? Somehow, I know that you do.
For more love and relationships, features, dating tips and tricks, and marriage advice check out xoNecole's Sex & Love section here.
Featured image by Getty Images
- The 10 Biggest Mistakes Women Make In Relationships - xoNecole ... ›
- The Pros & Cons Of Keeping Your Relationship Private ›
- The Pros & Cons Of Creating A 'What I Want In A Man' Checklist ... ›
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.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
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.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images