the Inkblot

Free the nipple or don’t

Urban Outfitters is one of the many stores that carries bralettes.

Creative Commons

Urban Outfitters is one of the many stores that carries bralettes.

Allie Kuo

To my fellow females – may your breasts be unbridled by underwire and your nipples be free.

No, I am not a nudist. I am simply a bra-to-bralette convert who believes that if you’re comfortable enough to ditch the structured shape of a padded bra for its lacy, unlined counterpart, or even for nothing at all, then by all means do it.

Body positive messages have been taking over fashion campaigns and media alike, and the recent popularity of bralettes is tangible proof of a new shift in both fashion and society. Three or four years ago, I never would have considered wearing anything less than a lined bra under my outfits, whether I wore a t-shirt or a thick sweater.

But now? No bra, no problem.

Still, it’s important to step back and consider why, up until now, it’s been almost taboo to go without a bra.

When a female’s breasts are not perfectly smooth and even, molded by the cups of their bra, people start to panic. They whip themselves into a frenzy.

“What could be under that shirt?” they ponder. “Are those… nipples?”

That’s also where the problem lies, that a woman’s natural figure, particularly her breasts, are sexualized and censored while men can walk around shirtless without drawing a second glance. It’s about time people realize that the structure of the male and female breast is nearly identical, and women shouldn’t be humiliated and criticized for a “nip slip” or wearing a shirt that’s “too thin.”

With more and more brands, especially underwear and lingerie companies, stepping away from retouching in their images, breasts are no longer just perfect and airbrushed. Models have boobs with flaws, birthmarks and asymmetry. This shift to natural shape and beauty is an extremely positive one, changing the ideals and expectations of both males and females exposed to those ads.

Even Victoria’s Secret, known for their emphasis on making one’s assets as perky as possible, has jumped on the bralette bandwagon. And when a brand that usually sells “Bombshell” push-up bras that claim to “Add-2-Cups” decides to head in the complete opposite direction and advertise unlined bralettes, there must be a compelling reason.

My feminist heart has been jumping with joy that leaving the house without putting on a bra is becoming more and more socially acceptable. Now, I still wear bras. I am in no way saying that they are inferior to bralettes because every body is different, and it’s all a matter of personal preference. But it’s reassuring to know that when I choose to wear bralettes or go bra-less, I’m not alone.

So I’d like to offer my condolences to the push-up bra. They had their run, but 2016 is the year of the bralette – long live liberated nips.

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