What Is The 'Johari Window' And Why It's Bomb When It Comes To Increasing Self-Awareness
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to share what I think is an extremely overlooked reason why a lot of relationships are either unhealthy or don’t end up seeing the distance. Without even a bit of hesitation, I said that far too many people lack even a “kiddie pool level” of self-awareness — and it’s costing them…dearly.
Almost four years ago, I penned an article for xoNecole, "These Are The Things Self-Aware People Do Daily." There’s a quote inside that talks about self-awareness consisting of holding oneself accountable, and lawd, that’s an entire book and podcast series right there! However, when it comes to what we’re going to get into today, it’s another quote that comes to mind. Two psychologists by the names of Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund say that self-awareness is “…the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don't align with your internal standards” — and this is where the Johari Window fits in perfectly.
I must admit that it actually wasn’t until I saw an episode ofBeing Mary Jane back in the day that I even discovered what the Johari Window is. As far as the show goes, long story short, Mary Jane needed to deal with some internal stuff that was causing her to stay in a loop in a lot of her relationships, and the window helped her out.
Since personally studying it, though, it’s something that I’ve done and also recommended to my clients in order for them to receive some of their own “ah ha moments” in their own neck of the woods. So, if you’re ready to get to know your own self a bit better, in hopes of flourishing more in your own interactions with other individuals, let’s do some unpacking of what the Johari Window is and how it can totally help you out.
What Exactly Is the Johari Window?
It’s kind of a long story, yet probably the best way to simplify everything. Back in the mid-1950s, two psychologists by the name of Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram came up with a concept that, in their minds, would help people to better communicate with others, especially when they are interacting in a group setting. It’s called the Johari Window, and Johari is actually the merging of their two first names.
Anyway, the ultimate goal of the Johari Window is to prove that awareness for yourself and trust from others can be better established once you are able to share how you perceive yourself while also being open to hearing feedback from others. In order for this to successfully transpire, there is a window that you must “look into,” and it’s broken down into four parts.
Now before we get into each windowpane, let me just say that it requires a lot of HUMILITY (and yes, I am yelling it) for this to be effective, especially when it comes to hearing what others have to say. This needs to go on record because if you truly want to tap into new levels of yourself, it’s not your job to go on the defensive, to become offended, or to shut down if/when you hear something that isn’t exactly easy or pleasant. Instead, remain open to how you may be perceived so that you can get to understand yourself and your relationships on a whole ‘nother level.
Are you ready to peek through each of the four panes now?
Johari Windowpane #1: Open AreaGiphy
The open area is just how it sounds. It consists of the things that you and those around you already know. On a surface level, this could be the details that are provided about you when someone reads your bio before you make a presentation. On a deeper one, it could be the common things that co-workers, church members, and acquaintances are clued in about, including certain personality traits, various personal skills, and your views and opinions about certain things.
So, let’s start here. Pull out a piece of paper, the notepad on your smartphone, or your journal, and, for 5-10 minutes, jot down all of the things that you think fit into this particular windowpane. For instance, when it comes to me, most people know that I am pretty black and white (in the sense of how I see things), that I have a quick wit and I’m very direct in communication, that I am a marriage life coach, doula and writer (especially in the realm of relationships) and that I have strong convictions when it comes to the covenant, being pro-Black, supporting Black men and folks taking great measures to self-heal. Whether I’m public speaking, writing an article, or in a conversation with someone for more than 15 minutes on a plane, these things are going to come up in some form or fashion.
The open arena is pretty easy to share because they don’t really put you in vulnerable positions as far as mental and emotional intimacy goes.
Johari Windowpane #2: Blind SpotGiphy
Yeah, this is the one where people tend to get pretty testy. A blind spot is something that others may see about you that you don’t exactly perceive yourself. For instance, a few years back, when I decided that I wanted to get on the path of evolving in my femininity, I asked some of my male friends what they thought I needed to do to make that happen. One said that I needed to become a better listener. Another said that I needed to heal from some of the toxic female relatives in my life because whenever certain topics would come up, I was hard to communicate with — sometimes even combative. Another said that it would be cool to see me in some heels every once in a while (listen, put me in some Pumas, and I’m a happy girl!). Some others said some things that I would keep to myself.
Was it easy to take everything in? Nope. Blind spots rarely are because, just like a car can come into your blind spot while you’re trying to change lanes and almost cause you to get into an accident, oftentimes, when people tell you certain things about yourself, you won’t see them coming. However, they’re good for you to know because when you can get — AND RECEIVE — some intel into how you are seen by others, that can help you to either self-correct or come to a greater understanding of why 1) your relationships are the way that they are; 2) you keep finding yourself in the same patterns and outcomes that you get and/or 3) you aren’t going deeper in your dynamics with other people.
Yep. Opening your eyes to blind spots is where the big kids play.
Johari Windowpane #3: FaçadeGiphy
There’s a guy I know who is a straight-up chameleon. He’s an entertainer here in Nashville, and it’s wild how much he is perceived to be a good guy on the surface, and yet — if he were to get 30 women who he’s “dated” (which is basically code for sexually involving himself with), they would have some pretty dark tales to share. On the surface, it comes off that he’s a player or womanizer; however, the few of us who know him beyond that image get that he’s got quite a bit of baggage and damage that causes him to act that way.
This is kinda-sorta where the next windowpane comes in. It’s called the façade, and it consists of the things that you know that others probably don’t — your past, your secrets, your fears, your deep-rooted feelings…your shady side. The interesting thing about this windowpane is even if you withhold it from others, eventually, something about it will creep out in how you act or react because it’s still a part of your core being.
For me, as I’m dealing with couples, the façade can be A LOT because it’s wild to realize how much a lot of partners tend to withhold from one another, whether it’s due to fear of how their spouse will respond or because they set up a “front” of who they were during the dating process and now they don’t know how to stop…acting.
Either way, you can’t develop genuine intimacy with other people if you’re not willing to release your façade (or façades). That said, think of some of the folks who you consider to be your tribe, and then write down some things that you have been hesitant to share with them. Then ask yourself why. Whatever answer comes to your mind will be quite revelatory about what you should do about those relational dynamics next. Trust me.
Johari Windowpane #4: UnknownGiphy
I’m currently working on getting certified and then credentialed in some other areas of coaching, one of which is trauma-related. The reason why I’m bringing this up here is that the final windowpane of not knowing is sometimes tied to trauma that has caused you to block some feelings or important information about yourself out.So, how in the world do you tap into what you — and others — do not know about you? Therapy can help. Life coaching too. Or you can spend some intentional time with someone you trust, talking about certain areas of your life until you receive some revelations about yourself.
For instance, you could set up a wine date with a girlfriend at your house, where the two of you make a plan to talk about your childhood and your childhood dreams. As you’re sharing with each other, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if some things are revealed that one or both of you had totally forgotten about — whether it’s due to trauma, family pressure to suppress certain dreams or wants, or…life simply getting in the way.To me, the unknown is a lot like having dormant spots in your life. By acknowledging them, they can come “back to life” and quite possibly, with a little bit of focus and effort on your part, open up entirely new worlds for you.
5 Benefits of Doing the Johari Window ExerciseGiphy
The interesting thing about the Johari Window is, in many ways, like the beginning stages of life coaching, it was initially designed to help people interact better in group/corporate settings. However, when I watched how Mary Jane freaked it, that’s how I advised people to use it.
If you want to tweak it to apply to a work retreat or business meeting…by all means. First, though, try using it on a more personal note. Aside from all of the things that we already touched on via each windowpane, here are some other reasons why it could be one of the best self-help exercises that you’ve done in a while.
You will be a better communicator. You can’t have successful personal or professional relationships if you don’t communicate effectively, and the better you know yourself, the better you’ll be at expressing yourself. The Johari Window can help to make that happen.
You will be better at emotionally self-regulating. When it comes to blind spots and the unknown, both of those could explain (for example) why you get easily triggered, you are super-sensitive when it comes to correction, or you can’t seem to get a handle on your moods. Unfortunately, a lot of people chalk this kind of stuff up to “well, that’s just the way that I am” when the reality is part of what comes with emotional intelligence, and holistic maturity is knowing that you can absolutely control how you choose to respond and react to things. Getting to know your blind spots and unknown areas plays a big role in that.
You will feel more genuine when interacting with others. Some people define intimacy as knowing and being known. That said, it’s pretty difficult to be truly intimate with someone if you’re hiding parts of yourself or you’re putting up a façade. When you’re willing to give healthy and trustworthy individuals more authentic access to you, that is what makes your relationships more secure and reliable.
You will be able to make better decisions (faster). A part of the reason why some people struggle with the decision-making process is that they are always second-guessing themselves. Oftentimes, that’s because they care too much about what other people think, or they’re not clear enough about what their own standards, boundaries, or needs are. Oh, but believe you me, the better you know yourself, the easier it is to decide which people, places, things, and ideas will complement you and your life. I think that you can see that this is just one more way that the Johari Window can be of service.
Your self-esteem will skyrocket. Imagine how much more confident you will become once you can take honest feedback and apply it. I’m telling you, being able to hear about yourself may not always be easy but when you do it, it reveals that you’re willing to grow at the expense of simply feeding your ego all of the time — and that can make you unstoppable in so many ways and on so many levels.
You know, I can’t think of one person who has walked this through and has not received some real insights on themselves — ones that have made them a better person and a better person to interact with.
So, over the next couple of weeks, treat yourself to the Johari Window exercise. Be open to what you learn — and, at the expense of punning, let the light of the window shine right on through, sis.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Better Off Braless: The Benefits Of Not Wearing A Bra More Often
Somewhere between the start of the pandemic and entering the late stages of my 20s, bras become less and less of a priority.
Within that span of time, I, like most of the world, spent my days inhabiting my small bubble, staying in the house with loose-fitting loungewear, and being on Zoom calls that only required me to be presentable from the neck up. So as the demand to have my breasts at their perkiest form, so did my commitment to wearing bras.
The relationship that most women have with their bras is… well, complicated. While society has led us to believe that they’re required for us to be deemed as “ladylike” and “neat,” many of us find the garment to be a bothersome (and optional) accessory at best.
From underwires that poke and dig at our sides to push-ups that spill over, the argument in support of bras has begun to wane over the last few decades, with women of all cup sizes asking themselves if it’s better to just go braless.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
“Many years ago, I ditched wired bras and opted for going braless out of a desire for freedom and celebrating natural human form,” multi-hyphenate Alyson Stoner tells xoNecole. The movement activist best known for their fly dance moves with the likes of Missy Elliott and on Step Up 2: The Streets, shares that when it comes to their bra selection, comfort is key. “As someone who enjoys moving their body, I found that I do want an underlayer that provides some support without interfering with comfort and mobility.”
A source of concern when choosing to go braless is whether or not the lack of support from a bra will, in turn, affect the firmness of one’s breast, resulting in early sagging. However, Sabrina Sahni, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, shares that breast sagging is a result of age, not whether you’ve ditched your bras.
“Sagging breasts – also called ptosis – generally occurs due to chronic aging,” she tells xoNecole. “The breast is made up of a combination of glandular and fibrous tissue and fat tissue. Over time, the glandular tissue may become replaced with fattier tissue, and that can lead to more sagging. Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that.”
"Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that."
Women with heavier breasts may find that going braless may have its set of drawbacks, but Dr. Sahni says that you should always pay attention to your comfort levels since bras are a garment designed to support your back and correct your posture. “Those with heavier or larger breasts who choose to go braless may actually have worsening back/neck/shoulder pain,” she says. “Wearing a bra may allow them to correct their posture and help alleviate tension on those muscle groups.”
“Women with larger breasts may benefit from wearing a well-fitted, supportive bra as it may alleviate things like upper back pain or neck pain,” she shares.
Listening to your body is key when choosing whether you want to toss out your bras forever or just for a day. The beauty in a woman’s body is that it will tell us what we need to know before we even have to ask. There are common misconceptions about tighter bras being linked to causing health issues like breast cancer.
And while studies do show that Black women are “twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer early when compared with Caucasian women,” the manifestation of this disease is predetermined by other varying factors.
“There are a lot of myths out there about going braless being better for breast cancer risk. It is completely false,” Dr. Sahni explains. “Whether or not you wear a bra does not have any bearing on your overall breast cancer risk. Ultimately, your risk is dependent on a variety of factors, including family history, your breast density, your lifestyle, and your reproductive history.”
If you’re looking for classic, weightless comfort that’s close to going braless, Alyson Stoner recommends Harper Wilde, a body-inclusive intimates brand on a mission to create a more comfortable world for womankind. They currently have a capsule collection with the intimates brand in partnership with their company, Movement Genius.
“Harper Wilde has been my go-to for years now because the materials are truly soothing on my sensitive skin, the amount of support feels like you're being gently hugged (not squeezed), and the styles are flattering and beautiful enough to wear as shirts or visible layers,” they say.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
The brand offers super soft, breathable cotton fabric in their Triangle and Scoop Bralettes ($40 each) that will put the bliss and comfort back in your bosom.
Dr. Sahni says that choosing to opt out of bras or keep them close to your chest “truly depends on the individual” but it should be understood that “wearing or not wearing a bra won't significantly impact your overall health.”
“Ultimately, it comes down to comfort. There are some women with chronic breast pain where perhaps changing their bras to something more supportive and well-fitted may help,” she says. “Alternatively, some women find that going bra-less will alleviate their breast pain. I tell women that they should choose a bra that is comfortable for them, feels supportive, and one that they can wear regularly.”
So whether you choose to free the tatas or wear a bra that feels like it’s barely there, remember to listen to your body because ultimately, the choice is yours.
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