"Find your passion and live your dream."
It's a motto Jasmine Lawrence lives by and if the phrase seems fairly light, the 24-year-old entrepreneur believes it's a heavy declaration for one to make. “It says, 'I'm responsible for my future, I'm responsible for the choices I'm going to make.'"
Jasmine adopted the mantra at the age of 13, when she began a business that started off as a side hustle in her parents' home. After a bad reaction to a chemical relaxer left her without most of her hair, Jasmine took the initiative to do something about it, especially after realizing there wasn't anything on the market catered to hair growth for young girls like herself. She was the change she wanted to see.
During an NFTE (The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) Bizcamp for teens, the future Girl Boss found just where she fit in the world and how she could leave her mark on the map. "The summer before I attended, I had broken my thumb at a different camp. I wanted to try something a little less intense [laughs]. I was enticed by the opportunity to spend time at New York University to learn more about the business world." Throughout the duration of those weeks and how it manifested itself into her company, Jasmine says she learned how to be committed to something that made her different and understood how to capitalize off of that aspect.
If instructors asked what problems were participants uniquely solving, the response lied in Jasmine's basement in hopes of helping others with their own hair troubles, using her experience as the catalyst for something bigger. The foundation of EDEN BodyWorks was birthed from that pivotal moment and it was an interminable journey for Lawrence ever since–a journey that began from a personal desire to find self-love after losing the very thing that often defines who we are.
“Once you have that locked away in your heart, it's just a fire. You can do your own thing once you find your own thing," she proclaims during her chat with xoNecole. That fire has been ablaze for 11 straight years, beginning in her basement, where she experimented and whipped up her first batch of products with the help of natural remedy books and her family.
“I made a lot of different natural ingredients like lavender, peppermint, lemon, etc., and noted their beneficial properties. I started to combine ingredients in different ratios and formulas based on my need," Jasmine says of the beginning stages of her line. She began selling the items after seeing results on her own hair and the rest was history.
Jasmine's business expedition including an inaugural stop on Oprah's couch in 2004, after one of the producers at Harpo Studios learned about the products from a family member. Initially reaching out for a phone interview, they pitched the idea of being on Oprah's show. “I was more than willing to participate and was very excited when they allowed me to bring my parents and my sisters to Chicago for the filming." That appearance elevated Jasmine and EDEN BodyWorks, now a thriving business with homemade products in Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and CVS.
She is proof that ambition doesn't hold the same weight as age. If you need a dose of encouragement this morning, Jasmine Lawrence's journey to a multi-million-dollar business is sure to kickstart your own fire within you.
Your journey began 11 years ago, and things kick started itself when you attended the NFTE Bizcamp. What was your business plan and what was that overall experience like?
My overall experience was kind of up and down. In the beginning it was a little rough, but I would say that was when I had the most excitement and energy and motivation. When I first started the only people who really supported me were the people from camp, my family, and my parents. They kept telling me, “you can do anything and you learned a lot" and “you're doing this for a good reason, so you should keep pushing forward." But whenever I go to do my business plan pitches or set up a booth at a trade show and I had to talk about where I wanted to go, a lot of people were like, “Are you kidding me? You're 13 or 14-years-old and you should be watching cartoons." It didn't deter me, but that really fueled the fire for me to just want to do more and be better and kind of be like, “Hey, I don't have to be 30 with a MBA to have the right to start a business."
What I went through was so hard and I felt so lonely in my whole experience of my hair being severely damaged. I just wanted to help people. From a high level, that was my business plan--to make sure no one had that negative business experience with chemical products that I had experienced in the past. At that bizcamp I learned, here's how you develop a product and understand the cost, and understand what you need to invest in to make it profitable; here's how you take time and really understand your customers. Think of them as individual people and not, some market that you're just trying to get market share from.
You started at 13 and the startup was funded through saving your allowance and your parents loaning you money to help with production. Before the big break in the company after appearing on Oprah, how was the company doing financially?
We were doing good. We were doing well, and I would say, it was a very maintainable level. It was a steady stream of customers. There wasn't a huge uptake and I will say, before Oprah, I was not overwhelmed by orders, but I definitely came home and sold several orders a day and it was something that me, as just a student, could do on my own, or sometimes my siblings would help me. It was very manageable and for me, that was success.
I would say, I didn't set out to have a company that made millions of dollars. In that aspect, I wasn't disappointed that we were making only a couple of hundred, or a couple of thousand. For me, I just still could not believe people were purchasing this stuff that I was making in my basement. I can't believe that people get what I was trying to do and they see that it's more than just products.
I think we were doing really well and I think that the opportunity to be on Oprah was just a huge validation of what I was trying to do and who I was trying to become. I loved the opportunity and I still see the spike that coincides with reruns of the show and the recent appearance I did last year. I never thought that 10 years later, it would be 50% of my life, and it matured me and changed me into this person.
You mentioned a challenge you faced during the start and growth of the company was being taken seriously because of your age. Do you still face that same challenge? What are some challenges you do have?
Age is not so much a factor because I feel like I'm at an age where people expect me to be beginning my career and there's still that look on their face like, “Ten years? What do you mean you've owned a company for ten years? You just graduated college? Who are you?" (Laughs) My current struggle is balancing the space I'm in with working in technology at Microsoft and the space I'm in with health and beauty care. I don't mind them being separate, but I feel like I've been getting a lot of push to combine them in some way, like the best of both worlds. To me that feels greedy. I want both my dreams and I want them when I want them and how I want them. I feel like that's asking for too much and God has really blessed me to be successful in the STEM field and casually, I've pursued STEM. I went through this hard trial and out of it came a successful business. They feel like two separate parts of my life, even though there's something in me that makes me happy with both of them.
The other thing I'm currently struggling with is how to be a good role model. But it's definitely something I think a lot about.What am I trying to be an example for? Am I trying to be an example for poor kids to become rich? Am I trying to be an example of young people doing what they want to do? Is it how to start a successful business? There's all these different kinds of channels and messages that I could be about.
How did you find balance at 13 and how do you find balance now at 24?
It's very similar. I think that now I prioritize fun a lot higher than I used to and the enjoyment of life. When I was 13, I said I have nothing better to do than to make a business. Finding balance comes with knowing what's important to you and being able to constantly make decisions that are right in your eyes. I don't have to overexert myself just because I'm driving for excellence in all of these things. I can give myself a break. I can do nothing.
I could lose my job at any moment. My company could crash at any moment and when that stuff is gone and when I look around and see what's left, I don't want to be alone. I don't want to have never invested in a person or a friendship. I don't want to not know what flavor of ice cream I like or books that I always wanted to read, I don't want to miss out on those things as I'm trudging along and trying to move forward.
There are similar products on the market that focus on the being affordable and natural, but the longevity of EDEN BodyWorks stands out against the competition. Why do you think that is?
I think that a differentiator that we have is commitment to the community, and not just fundraisers and things like that, but trying to listen to what people are struggling with and trying to be a part of their lives instead of being like a company that they buy from. It's a certain level of trust that we've been trying to attain with anybody who's been to our events or tried the product. It's more like, what do you need or what do you need to learn or how can we help you with a better life, and how can our products be a part of that better life? But not necessarily the solution. I'm not growing you a solution for you to grow your hair down to your butt.
If that's what you want, I'm sure that we can give you nutrients. If you're coming to the company and you want a quick fix solution and that's the way the products are being marketed, like “yeah, take this one" this is a different kind of brand than that. This is a brand that asks, “Are you drinking enough water? Are you exercising? Are you good, mentally? How do you feel about yourself, because we can give you shampoo, we can make your hair grow, but that alone will not make you feel beautiful.
EDEN BodyWorks branched off a bit to include a line specifically for children. What has the feedback been so far?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I will say it's probably the second best reception of products we have since the launch of the coconut shea line. It's the first line of product that's really tied into our commitment to being a part of your life. When we launched, we were actually giving away books by self-published female authors and having these events where it's not just about, 'here's the product; here's how you use it; here's how much it cost.' It's really about here's how you can educate your child and spend quality time with them. The reception has just been great from parents, and it's just been adorable to kind of watch reviews on YouTube and Instagram and kids loving it, too. It's been heartwarming and it makes me want to be in that place in my life where I can spend that time with my children.
We [EDEN BodyWorks] do 'Mommy and Me' dates. We know if we foster the relationship with a mother and a daughter, that's going to help families. Having strong families is better for the economy as a whole. That daughter who spends time with her mom, learning how to take care of their hair is less likely to be caught up in superficial beauty. They'll understand things like “My mom used to deep condition my hair, so my hair will be soft." They'll know these things growing up, familiarity with the brand–that's great for us. But when you walk away from those Mommy & Me sessions, you don't just feel like 'EDEN BodyWorks has a kids line and they're just trying to get me to buy their shampoo.' It's “Wow, I'm closer to my daughter now or that was an opportunity for me to take care of her and to encourage her how to care of herself." It's kind of like a dual role we're trying to do. I think over the years, people have started to pay attention to that and started to see that and that's enabled us to be around for so long because we do more than just make money.
Have you ever encountered comments about your natural hair in the workplace?
It totally comes up. It's not so much what they say, it's how they react. It's, “Oh, that's how you wore your hair today? That's interesting. Is that 'tribal' or something?" You can tell in the media that long, straight hair is professional. All the women you see in suits and are successful, that's how they look. And it goes back to what I was saying about being Black in STEM; you just look at that model you and say, if I want to be that, I need to look like that and conform to that. At my workplace, we are super casual so it doesn't matter what you wear, what you look like.
I definitely don't think there are legitimate companies with actual rules about how your hair can be. It's a part of you, and it's so crazy that people will judge you for that. Clothing, I feel very different about. There are uniforms designed for specific types of roles and those uniforms are supposed to aid in you doing your job better. I know a lot of industries prefer suits because they want you to look like this is serious and I can get that, because sometimes it's even cultural. But there's a time and a place where you should just do you all the time. I wear my hair however I want, but there is real social pressure out there and it's scary. I'm sorry for anyone suffering through that, especially if you're alone and there's not another woman there wearing her twist out or wearing her locs.
What advice would you give in starting your own business in a world where it seems everyone is doing the same thing and it's difficult to bring something new to the table and be labeled “innovative."
My advice would be to examine your motivations and to be super clear why you want to start the business. It doesn't matter what kind of business you're starting if you're starting it for the wrong reasons. So, examining your motivations and understand what's driving you. Whatever that is–if it's to impress somebody, if it's just to get rich–those things are not going to be what allows you to wake up at 5:00 in the morning and that get work done. Or fly across the country several times in one week to get to those meetings. People will hear your passion in your pitches, in your writing, and in your work, and those motivations need to be powerful.
Figure out who you are, what you want, and what kind of impact you're trying to make.
And not just these blanket 'I want to change the world.' You have to know your niche and your market and be like, this is how I want to make impact and this is my thing. Nobody's going to have the energy and the desire and the drive to accomplish that thing that you want to do. You don't have to be afraid someone is going to steal your idea because if you're doing you, driven by some unstoppable force. If you can feel confident and still push forward, that's stuff you can't just make up. It's way too late to try and figure that stuff out once you already have something on the shelves or online. That's my advice: figure out who you are, what you want, and what kind of impact you're trying to make. No amount of money or fame is really going to satisfy you if you're not doing that thing that you were meant to do.
All images courtesy of Jasmine Lawrence
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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