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I Tried It: I Went Braless For A Week

I Tried It

If you're like me, you live for that moment when you come home from a long day of adulting and get to remove your bra.


Ahhhh.... Our boobs silently thank us as we begin to unwind. I tend to bounce between a large B and a small C cup, so being part of the Itty Bitty Titty collective means going braless isn't exactly new to me. I tend to let my girls do their own thing on weekends when I'm out running errands or if I have on something that just doesn't accommodate bra straps - but there's a caveat.

I've birthed a child and I'm inching towards my mid-thirties, so I try to make sure that my unbridled mom-boobs go unnoticed. I throw a sweater over them or a baggy t-shirt and secretly revel in the satisfaction of my passive freedom. This is especially the case when I'm dropping my 5-year-old off at school or heading into the xoNecole office.

So, because I'm pretty choosey about when I let the girls go au naturale, I knew this 7-day challenge was going to be interesting.

Monday

On day one, I have to say I dove right in. I wore a fitted top tucked into a striped pencil skirt.

Needless to say, my induction into the bra-free movement was ambitious. Right out the gate, I felt extremely insecure. I had to run to my son's school to drop off his Halloween costume and felt the security guard that greeted me staring me down.

It was a chilly day and I was out there - no safety net.

What I Learned

I'm not as liberated as I thought. As soon as eyes found my breasts, I shrank into myself. I made dumb jokes to try to keep the attention on my face instead of my chest and I kept my jacket zipped up - even when I was burning up.

Tuesday

The next day was a work-from-home day, so after dropping my son at school, I decided to head over to Starbucks and work from there instead of running home to hide.

I was a bit more daring in my ensemble, opting for a white mini t-shirt (that says,"More trees, less a**holes") and absolutely no safety net underneath.

What I Learned

While the women seemed to glance over in my direction and kind of give a subtle look of approval before moving on, the men lingered.

One guy who was sitting across from me stationed his gaze on my nipples (which I'm sure were serving as the cafe thermometer) for a solid 10 minutes. I finally said, "Can I help you with something?"

He got up and left.

Wednesday

It was Wednesday, and I was headed into the office.

Thankfully, the weather provided the perfect excuse to keep my bra-free-boobies out of the face of my fellow commuters, but when I got to the office, it was a different story.

For the sake of professionalism, I had a tank top on under my top, which also happened to be oversized and kept things pretty much camouflaged.

What I Learned

Those damn nipples... Every time the room chilled, I found myself covering them up with my arms.

My posture sunk and I did everything to make myself as small as possible. Not a great feeling.

Thursday

Thursday was a day to run errands, so I decided to face my insecurities a little more. I wore a grey ultra-low cut bodysuit under an over-sized sweater and jacket. The weather was cool but not cold, and with all the running around, I kept my jacket open almost the entire time.

From Target to the grocery store to the public library - my breasts were racking up looks, left and right.

What I Learned

Apparently, some men thought my breasts were their official concern. As I walked down a busy neighborhood street, one guy (who looked old enough to be my father) said, "Sis, you should really cover up."

I was suddenly invaded with the feeling of rage and a tinge of embarrassment. At no point did I look at him and decide it was my duty to inform him that his Timbs were scuffed to oblivion, so why did he feel his opinion about my shirt was so important to voice?

Friday

By Friday, returning to the office was a breeze.

I had been silently harassed, embarrassed, and gawked at all week. All I had to do was figure out a way to go bra-less at work one more time before the weekend. I went with an oversized grey sweater and admittedly kept my jacket on pretty much the entire day.

What I Learned

I will never be liberated enough to rock obvious nipples to work.

I don't even think it has anything to do with having a sense of freedom or patriarchy. I just don't think the gentlemen in my office environment should get to see my nipples.

Boom.

The Weekend

It was a kid-free weekend and I had spent way too much time all week worrying about, planning around, and trying to hide my breasts.

With very few social obligations on my plate. I spent my weekend musing around New York completely braless, and reveled in the freedom the weekend provided the experience. I didn't mind when they bounced or flopped around, and I didn't care if you could tell I was cold through my shirt.

My no-shame braless weekend felt downright rebellious.

Final Thoughts

Men don't think about whether or not their pants-bulge is offending anyone on the subway. They probably aren't much concerned with their man-nipples poking through their shirt when a stiff breeze hits them.

What I learned most about this experience is that women's bodies are way over-analyzed, mostly because every advertisement features a model with breasts perked and perched and appropriate for the occasion - whatever 'appropriate' even means.

But whether your breasts are size-deficient or gravity-addicted, whether they have fed babies or catch crumbs while you eat - it should be okay to let them loose whenever we please.

Since this little experiment, I've noticed myself opting out of a bra more and more often - and not just when I'm running to the liquor store at 11 PM. Slightly saggy, a little uneven, and rocking a lighter complexion than the rest of me - I'm fine with my girls in and out of a bra.

The world is just going to have to get used to it.

Originally published November 24, 2017

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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