How Honest Are You? With Yourself?
A few years ago, there was a show that came on Lifetime that I actually really liked. It was called UnREAL and it was a take on what goes on behind the scenes of the franchise The Bachelor/Bachelorette (on ABC). Word on the street is that some former producers actually wrote for the show which meant that a lot of the storylines were based on real life situations. Anyway, because a lot of reality television is really anything but real, and oftentimes features a lot of folks who are altering — if not flat-out manipulating — storylines, it was interesting to see (in the third season) one of UnREAL's field producers and master manipulators, Rachel Goldberg, go through a course that she called Essential Honesty. Basically, via a book and some audio sessions, she was reprogramming her mind to not lie — to always tell the truth, no matter what the cost. Trust me, that was quite the mission for her. That character could lie like water.
When I sat down to write this piece, that was the first thing that came to mind. Mostly because, there are a lot of us who also manipulate, if not flat-out lie, oftentimes to ourselves, in the real world. And in order to get out of some of the delusions, distractions and lack of personal accountability cycles that we find ourselves in, it's important that we send ourselves through our own versions of essential honesty.
And just how can you know if you're someone who falls into this category? How can you know for certain that you are indeed honest with yourself most of all? If you've read the content that I've written for this site long enough, you know that I'm big on questions leading to genuine answers. Today, I've got five that could help you to get to the root of whether or not you're as honest with yourself as you should be. But first, why is all of this such a challenge for so many people?
Why Do Folks Struggle with Self-Honesty?
There's someone in my family who lies to themselves…a lot. So much, in fact, that I've had to remove them out of my life (check out "Estranged From A Family Member? Let That Guilt Go.") because when people aren't honest with themselves, it has the domino effect of them not being very honest with others either. And people who are dishonest? They are typically unpredictable. They play a lot of mind games. They don't know how to communicate without gaslighting, deflecting and passing the buck. In short, they are completely draining and exhausting.
How do folks get to that point and place? Chile, that is an article all on its own. Some people were raised by dishonest people and so they learn it from them. Some folks were so harshly disciplined as kids that they lie as a form of self-protection and they don't know how to break out of the pattern. Some people's self-esteem is so low that they've convinced themselves that if they lie to themselves, it will cause them to see themselves in a better light and project a "wholeness façade" to others. Some people lack total self-awareness and so they don't deal well with reality. The list goes on and on. What you can know for sure is someone who isn't honest with themselves can't really trust themselves either. And when you're in that kind of space, you're constantly at war within.
So, how can you know if you are truly honest with yourself? If you're someone who is — genuine; sincere; honorable (and consistent) when it comes to your personal principles and intentions; an individual who operates from a place of fairness; not pretentious; one who operates above board, and is true to yourself, no matter what and above all else? If you can nod your head up and down for all of this, you're in a pretty good space on the self-honesty tip.
However, if after reading that list, you're still somewhat unsure, here are five questions that will hopefully help to bring forth some clarity.
1. Can You Tell the Difference Between Opinions and Facts?
Something that is absolutely hilarious to me about social media is the fact that so many folks will spend all day getting triggered over other people's opinions. More times than not, it's because they have gotten so high-minded about their own opinion that they actually think what they think is a fact. So, when someone challenges what they say, they react as if what they believe is the gospel. Lawd. Egos are really something, ain't they?
When it comes to a telling sign of whether or not you're truly honest with yourself, one of the first things you should definitely think long and hard about is if you know the difference between an opinion and a fact. An opinion is a personal view or attitude. A fact is a piece of information that is a verifiable truth. And no, these are not one and the same.
People who think their opinions are the gospel are unstable in the sense that one, they are basically their thoughts (and sometimes their actions as well) solely on perspective or emotion and two, because of that, they can be all over the place because perspectives and feelings are subject to change, to the point of oftentimes being pretty fickle. The problem with that is if you don't recognize an opinion for what it is, you can tell yourself it is a fact — the truth or reality of something — when it's any and everything but…and that can make for some pretty poor decision-making.
So yeah, I would definitely say that one way to know that you are honest with yourself is if you're able to differentiate between your opinion and actual facts. For instance, the reason why you and your ex didn't work out? You are going to have your opinion and so is he. OK, but what are the actual facts? Feel me?
2. Can You Only Handle Praise, Never Criticism?
One thing about most honest people is they're considered to be decent human beings (I say "most" because some folks are honest about being jerks or assholes; let's be real). They strive to do what is fair and right. Words like "ethical", "law-abiding" and "above board" are synonyms for honesty and they know it and live it. And here's the thing — the reality is, if you want to be this kind of individual, you have to be always open to experiencing personal growth and evolution. This means that you can't always be told what you want to hear; instead, you've got to be willing to let people call you out on your ish. More importantly, you've got to be willing to be real with yourself when you know that you aren't operating from high vibration type of space.
You know, we're living in a world that seems to be creating more and more narcissists by the day. One thing about a narcissist is they have a super-inflated ego because they're all about receiving praise without being able to take much criticism. A part of the reason why is because they have lied to themselves for so long that they believe they've got very few, if any, flaws. Chile, we've all got flaws and areas to work on. Anyone who feels otherwise, they are definitely lying to themselves. So yeah, when it comes to personally evaluating if you are truly honest with yourself or not, it's also important to ask yourself if you are open to criticism (from people you trust and know have your back) as you are to praise. Because another thing about honest people is they are pretty practical and to think that you can only live in a world where folks are applauding you…it really doesn't get much more unrealistic (and semi-ridiculous) than that.
3. Do You Chalk Everything Up to “Shaming”? Or Could You Be PROJECTING?
This "shaming" word wears me out sometimes. It's like any time someone is told something that they don't like or want to hear, someone is shaming them. I'm gonna leave the name of the example that I'm about to use out; however, I was watching a relationship coach talk about how one celebrity who is constantly talking about body image has actually been a walking contradiction. Here's why —while they say that men who don't want to date them due to their body size are "fat shaming", they have actually said that they feel as if their fame and bank account has warranted them a man who isn't their size. In other words, they think men should date them no matter their weight while they only want men with six-packs. Lord.
Does fat shaming exist? Sure, it does. However, in this particular case, it sounds a heck of a lot more like emotional manipulation. So, you want to pressure someone into dating you by telling them that if they don't, they are shaming your body type while you claim to not want to date someone your size yourself and that's all due to personal preference? Who is really doing the shaming? And as the relationship coach said in the video that I watched — are you actually being shamed or are you projecting your own insecurities onto other people?
Chalk it up to being an occupational hazard of sorts yet I am a pretty word-literal individual and if there are two words that get abused in society, more than just a little bit, it's "phobia" (which means a literal fear of something or one) and "shaming" (which, in this context, means to disgrace). Not everyone who disagrees with someone is "phobic" and not everyone who is not attracted to someone is "shaming" them. Sometimes, due to people's own insecurities, they use these words to project how they feel about themselves onto others. Meaning, they try and make other people responsible for their own feeling; then they try and pressure others to overcompensate for where they don't feel very good about themselves. And that? That would be a form of projecting.
I know this particular point isn't discussed much. Oh, but it should be. If there is some area of your life where you feel not so great about yourself and so you try and make others make you feel good about you and then tell them that they are "shaming you" if they don't — that is a form of being dishonest with yourself. It's not someone else's job to overcompensate for where you feel inadequate. Believing otherwise? That would be a lie.
4. Do You Think Life Is About Being Happy All of the Time?
One of the biggest lies ever told in this society is that the goal of life should be to be happy all of the time. What in the world? To be happy is to be delighted in something or someone. To be happy means that something or someone is bringing you pleasure, contentment and/or joy. To be happy means that you feel fortunate and pleased. Listen, we live among fallible humans, not to mention that we are ones ourselves. So, how in the world, are we gonna be happy all of the time?
This is why, it's basically like fingernails on the chalkboard to me, whenever I'm in a session with a married couple who claims they want to end their marriage either because they are no longer happy in their relationship or worse, their spouse doesn't "make them happy" anymore. First of all, marriage is designed to mature you far more than it is supposed to keep you happy every second of the day. Second of all, it's no one's job to "make you happy". The key is to be delighted and content within yourself and then to find an individual who will complement that — and even then, it won't be all of the time because who is happy with themselves…all of the time?
That's why I'm far more interested in folks focusing on the word "healthy" (having good health, a vigorous mind and being prosperous) over being happy. Because while doing what's healthy isn't always going to be pleasurable or pleasing, it will be what's best in the long run. People who are really honest with themselves accept this. People who are dishonest? Well, one of the things that they are constantly focusing on is finding people, places, things and cultivating ideas that will constantly keep them on a "happy high" — whether it's healthy for them or not. Hmph. Talk about living a lie.
5. Would You Rather Be Comfortable? Or Grow?
One more. Growing pains. We're all familiar with what they are, although, unfortunately, I think a lot of folks focus more on the "growing" rather than the "pain" part of the term. While it is totally human and quite understandable that you would want to do what you can to avoid feeling discomfort of any kind, people who are honest with themselves know that if they want to mature and progress in life, some things are going to be difficult, tedious, unpleasant, somewhat hurtful and shoot, downright hard. It's an unavoidable fact (remember, honest people deal in facts).
Meanwhile, folks who lie to themselves, they will find every way to avoid this reality or they will remain stagnant because they would prefer to be comfortable more than they would like to grow. As a direct result, they never really become the full totality of who they were meant to be all along. On the flip, those who are honest with themselves, they will be the first to admit that some things weren't easy and some seasons were damn near excruciating; however, since it caused them to become who they are, it was all worth it. They can honestly say so.
Those who are close to me know that lying is something that I loathe. That's why the Shakespeare quote up at the top of this piece is such a favorite one of mine.
While being dishonest on any level ain't good, if there is anyone who you should be honest with, make sure it is yourself. Knowing the genuine version of you, then operating from that space, may not be easy. Oh, but it's worth it because you can trust who you are and why you are. That develops a level of self-trust that is unmatched. And when you trust yourself, you're on the path to so much more and better than when you're out here…lying. Worst of all — TO YOU.
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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 (email@example.com) 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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