Ditching the boulder holders: 36D and bra-less for two years

Guest post by Kaelee

bye bra

About two years ago, I confronted one of the big questions of my life: why, when I loathe, detest, indeed despise, wearing bras, do I continue to spend stupid amounts of money trying to find one that fits right, that feels comfortable, that looks just right? Why am I wearing this boob-cage that is invariably the first thing that comes off when I get home (often even before the shirt I’m wearing)?

I had always just accepted that bras were a necessary part of life, having had my mother tell me repeatedly that if I didn’t wear them, my boobs would sag, and… Wait, no, that was pretty much the main reason. There was the insistence that if I wasn’t wearing a bra, I was not completely dressed, and therefore somehow indecent, but ultimately, the reason for wearing a bra was the same — boob saggage.

So I got to thinking, and then, after asking myself this all important question, I got to reading. The more I read, the less there seemed to be any kind of information supporting the idea that wearing a bra would prevent one’s breasts from sagging, or indeed have any kind of benefit. Almost everything I read said the main causes of that were weight loss, pregnancy and breast feeding, and since I’m pretty fit and healthy, and my partner and I are not planning on having kids, neither of those causes seemed too concerning. So, after some deliberation, I took the plunge (ha…) and ditched the boulder holders.

“But what about running?” I hear people cry, “Doesn’t it hurt? What about them wobbling, and the nipple factor, and white shirts, and and and…”

There were adjustments to be made, certainly. And the girls ached for about, oh, two weeks. And after that… nothing. No pain, no aching, in fact, I was more comfortable than I ever had been. It made sense — my pectorals were not being worked to hold up the weight of my breasts while I was wearing a bra, and suddenly they had to hold up these considerable lumps all day (full disclosure: I’m a 14D (AU)/36D (US)/36DD (UK), so I’m not particularly small).

The natural movement of my breasts was definitely something to get used to, and mostly it just came with time and confidence. Ditto with the potential of nipple protrusion, but I have both my nipples pierced, so that was something to get over quick — even when it’s not cold, I still show some, ahem, perkiness.

I still have a couple of bras for the odd transparent shirts, or special occasions (like my wedding, which I actually had to go and buy a bra specifically for), but in general I don’t really wear anything light coloured or awkwardly see through.

On the whole, I am so much happier two years on from ditching the bra. I get the occasional odd look, and friends do ask a bit about how I’m getting on, but I can honestly say going bra-less has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my personal comfort.

Comments on Ditching the boulder holders: 36D and bra-less for two years

  1. 9 months ago, I decided to make a change in my life. I did some research and realized the harm I was inadvertently doing to my life. Today, I eat only fresh locally grown vegetables, I eat organic meats. I am learning how to live off of the land God gave me. Most Importantly, I no longer wear a bra. Believe it or not, I actually threw everyone in the garbage can. I haven’t looked back.

  2. I’m not overly large busted (or I never used to be, but pregnancy is changing things), but I do have rather large and in charge nipples. I’m not complaining about them. Quite the opposite, in fact. They’re a lot of fun. They do, however cause problems if I want to go braless. Even using pasties to hide them doesn’t always work. I’m all for the shelf bras, and if it wasn’t for the fact that without my nursing bra I would be dying from tenderness all the time, I would be wearing one 24-7. All power to those who go braless, and screw everyone who thinks it’s weird. They’re just boobs, and boobs are amazing.

  3. I would love to go braless, but I’m a 30G and I work at a high school and get enough mean stares at my figure from some of my female coworkers. I’m pretty sure ditching my bra would get me fired in a heartbeat 🙁

  4. i wish i could go bra-free. i’m right there with you on that being the first thing that comes off when i get home, even before the shirt.

    but unfortunately i currently work at a job where the uniform shirt is a slightly see through light cream color and i have dark nipples so that just wouldn’t fly. /:

  5. I’m only 32B but refuse to go bra-less unless I’m at home and there are no guests around. Ever since I began wearing a bra at the age of 9 (despite my small size, puberty hit early) I’ve only gone out once without a bra and spent the entire experience feeling extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious as I’m not too firm in that area and I don’t have the “socially-acceptable” shape. In addition, I’m really shy and don’t even feel comfortable in a bathing suit on the beach. I do love my body but I’d prefer to keep certain bits and pieces for myself and my husband.

    I’m 28 now and after having reading this and other articles about going bra-less, I’ve decided that if I ever have a daughter I’d let her know the pros and cons of wearing a bra and not wearing one and let her make her own decision that she’s comfortable with. If I had a son, I’d try to make him aware of the fact of all female issues so that he can grow up to be sensitive to them.

  6. Honestly I’ve rarely worn them since I was 25. I quit because under wires were so horribly uncomfortable and I couldn’t find anything that didn’t hurt my back. I switched to sports bras for a long time and then anytime I could do away with even those I did. Now that I’m self employed and my dress code is far less than business casual, I don’t wear one unless I’m going to sex it up for my man, and those are only for short time wear. LOL

  7. I hate bras! I only wear training bras and maybe a non-underwire bra on a special day. I’d love to go without but honestly my nipple chaffing is what stops me! Anyone know of solutions to this or very soft tanks/undershirts/crops I could purchase?

  8. Reading this article when it was first published was revolutionary, all my natural desires to not wear a bra were suddenly validated and ive been mostly bra free ever since. Ive been lucky enough that many of my summer dresses are sort of rockabilly that are structured enough just in the fabric and cut that I could get away with it but as the weather is starting to change im having nip issues! Theyre a little lively and obvious…. anyone have any brilliant ideas for combating this?? Sorry if someones already mentioned it, I scanned the comments but there were a lot!

  9. Right now, I’m a 32FF/34F and one of my breasts is a full cup size bigger than the other, so I don’t feel completely comfortable going bra-less. But reading this article a year after the fact and scanning through the comments has given me the courage and desire to just stick with sports bras. I’m a huge fan of the Champion Sports Bra Double Dry Distance – 6209; it’s super comfy. It’s sized enough to provide support but not so sized that I haven’t been able to wear it through weight/bra size fluctuations. I’m so done with paying big bucks for bras that only last for six months before stretching out. Thank you for this article, and go you for taking the full plunge!

  10. I’m not particularly large, so the only reason I’ve ever worn a bra was for the sake of modesty. But even soft bras with no under wire aren’t the most comfortable thing to wear. I’ve recently started to discover just how many outfits can be worn without a bra without revealing too much, and for the times they do, a fitted tank top usually does the trick. So while I’m not 100% bra free right now, I’m finding I “need” one FAR less often than I had ever realized.

  11. When I developed breast buds (the pre-mound, swelling areola phase) in 4th grade or so, I resisted bras with a fervent passion. It was summer, and I’ve always been warm-blooded, so the idea of yet another layer was absolutely abhorrent to me. Also, I was very embarrassed about anything puberty related and the idea that someone might be able to detect that I was wearing a bra under my shirt was absolutely terrifying.

    Then, I noticed I was starting to “jiggle” a bit in gym, so I asked my mom for a bra (I literally thought I would die of embarrassment, especially when she got all excited), and wore those non-wired “training bras” until I was a sophomore in high school. It turns out, they don’t make 38As, but as a insecure 15-year-old changing in a locker room, I wanted to wear “real” bras like all the other girls, and let’s face it, I wanted my boobs to “look good”. I ended up buying 38Bs that I almost fit into and pinning the cups together in the middle until I grew into it (and finally out of it).

    I’m an OB nurse now, so looking back, it’s pretty funny what used to make me squirm with discomfort. Even funnier is that as a person who resisted bras for so long, then forced my way into one to feel like I “fit in” in school, I now find myself uncomfortable without one. I’ve even been teased by roommates for never going to bed without a training bra (it’s funny how life can go full-circle like that). I’ve tried going to bed or walking around braless, and even alone I just don’t feel comfortable.

    I’m all for doing whatever is comfortable for you so long as it’s not flat-out disrespectful or harmful. For me, that seems to be wearing “boulder holders” (LOVE that term). As for you, I’m glad you enjoy “swinging free”. So swing free and proud 🙂

  12. LOVE THE POST. I just recently ripped out the underwire in two of my bras. (The wire was actually poking out). And I just bought no wire bras on the clearance rack. I love not wearing a bra. I do it as much as I can.

  13. When I was younger, I was obsessed with being able to wear a bra since I was a super late bloomer. I would wear the biggest push up possible until college when a combo of puberty and BC gave me my 34c/32d boobs. I still like owning pretty bras, but they are off the second I come home and stay off unless I go out or company comes over that I feel like I should look “decent” for. I don’t wear a bra to bed and don’t wear one around anyone i have ever lived with, which includes family and most friends. Sometimes if I am wearing a tee shirt or a hoodie I won’t even wear one to the grocery store or gas station or getting coffee. If I had rounder, fuller girls I’d probably never wear one except to work! (i’m still a bit self conscious about their shape in tighter tops)

  14. Hi Kaelee & Fellow Ladies,
    I’m a 32 C/D and I stopped wearing a bra last year. I’ve have had significant improvements in my overall health! Much like Kaelee describes, it was about two weeks of adjusting to the new braless world. After then, I stopped having minor asthma, my back and shoulder pain was reduced quite a bit. My PMS breast tenderness used to hurt, and even incapacitate me from running (which I love.) Now, the PMS soreness is pretty much non-existent. I have scoliosis, and bras have never been a friend of mine no matter what time of the month. Especially the tight sport bras. I’m so happy I did this, and another added bonus surprise for me is that I’ve witnesses more perkiness! I strongly recommend going braless to anyone. FREE THE BOOBIES!

  15. I decided to try going braless as much as possible this past spring, mostly in an attempt to simplify my life and because as someone who has breast cancer in her family, I thought it wasn’t a terrible idea. At first I found it very challenging, mostly in how it made me feel. I was very self conscious of looking odd, or unattractive, or of people staring if my nipples showed through my shirt. I also was very critical of how my breasts looked with no support; I have always believed that my best asset (ahem) was not up front, so to speak, and looking at the natural shape of my breasts was kind of hard for me at first. My boobs are very far apart of my chest, and while I wear a 32D bra size, they’re very soft, so they are about as unperky as can be. Needless to say, I do not look like a lingerie model when I go sans bra.

    Then I started to evolve how I was thinking about myself. I can’t tell whether my gaze shifted, or whether my body has actually changed a little after changing my habits (research on the effects of going braless suggests this can happen?), but now, I don’t look in the mirror and see sagging, conical boobs under a breastbone devoid of defined collarbones and too much armpit fat. I see my breasts, and they’re pretty nice, dammit. Yes, there are still some times when I want to have a more ‘standard’ look and shape (I don’t have cleavage without a bra, for example) and in those instances I still put on a wired bra – with padding, even! But more and more, I have stopped worrying about whether my boobs look like a VC model’s, whether they’re jiggling a bit, whether my nipples are showing. I often exercise or go out for an evening in a wireless, non-shaped lace bralette, or skip it, depending. I also found myself MUCH more comfortable this summer than in ears past, and I do so much less work on carefully laundering my bras.

    Innahoo, while I certainly haven’t burned my bras totally out of my wardrobe, I totally dig this concept, and I’m glad I made this change!

  16. I’m right there with you. The mostly I wear a bra when I’m wearing a sports bra as a shirt because it’s hot. lol And absolutely the ONLY thing that makes boobs droop is child bearing and weight loss. I’ve done both, and at 31 right before I got pregnant I could still pass the pencil test! Oh I’m a 34 DD (US). And yeah now they droop a bit, meh. If I need to dress up for something I have a couple that are well fitted etc. Pile the girls up in one place and they look just like they did when I was younger and child free.

  17. Me too!! I started not wearing a bra when I was having infection issues while breastfeeding. Bacteria would proliferate in the stale milk caught between my nipples and the bra and that meant pain. Also, I realized that my nipples were tender because they’d been coddled their whole lives – no exposure to air or friction – which also made breastfeeding harder. It was so much nicer, too, not to have to fiddle with a bra while breastfeeding. And I just never went back. It is so much more comfortable without it, and I don’t have the stress of finding (and paying through the nose for) something that fits. The trick, for me, is to wear the right clothing so it’s not a social issue. (People are afraid of breasts for some reason.) I wear loose clothing much of the time. Tops with an empire waist, with a tank underneath, naturally obscure the fact that the breasts are free. 🙂 If I really have to, like if I’m wearing a fitted t-shirt, I’ll wear a loose sports bra. (I love the Blue Canoe Jane’s bra for this purpose.)

  18. My only issue going braless at a 36DD is that it makes me too hot. I’m extremely saggy and the sit against my body and insulate so I sweat and I can’t cool down. Otherwise I would probably do it more often!

  19. I’ve experienced for myself the benefits of going braless or semi-braless… But I have 1 big, serious, TMI question…. How do you deal with sweat? I’m quite large up top… Even larger these days as I’m uber pregnant… But I seriously can’t stand the sweat factor! The feeling of the skin on the bottom of my breasts rubbing against the skin of my rib cage when sweat is involved is completely unbearable for me! Am I alone in this distaste?! I know a lot of my aches would be greatly relieved if I could just get over this, but I just don’t know how! And powder is no answer, trust me!!!

    • I like to wear a camisole/cotton tank or a bralette for the sweat factor, because when I’m sitting my boobs rest on my belly (not pregnant, just have a belly) and the skin to skin thing just isn’t very comfortable in hot weather.

  20. One of my #1 favorite things about working from home is that I feel zero obligation to wear a bra daily. No longer wearing a bra daily also was illuminating: I never realized exactly how much my fibromyalgia & spondylitis pain was aggravated by my bra. I knew it didn’t feel good, and I knew it was a relief to take it off, but holy crap, I feel so much better since I stopped wearing bras. I still wear one while out and about ~50% of the time, because I’m paranoid about “nipping”, but that probably drops down to about 5% of the time in winter. God bless scarves & jackets. 😉

  21. I feel out of place on this comment section. While y’all talk about how big you are, I have to deal with not having breasts worth putting a bra on for. I’m a 34A. Bras never have fit right on me because my breasts have always been small. I do not even fill the cup all the way. There is always some gap. The only thing big on my breasts are my nipples. They stick out all the time.

    But with not being able to find pretty bras that fit, it has saved me some money for other things. I have been able to get away with wearing bra tanks and t-shirts and not worrying about having to adjust straps (highly annoying). But for those who are well endowed, I do envy you. It is no picnic when your breasts are too small and you end up looking flat.

  22. I always had saggy boobs, and from 12 years old they were already big. Still, I rocked that braless look frequently and the movement of my breasts wasn’t painful but quite pleasant.
    Then I reached a certain age, around 23 or 25, where suddenly I looked at braless photos, or I stood in front of the mirror, and didn’t like what I saw. The simple fact of adding a bra took years off me. And it’s not just me. My mom, at 60, has had enough of bras, but I keep thinking how much older she looks without them. I know it’s the sagginess that does that, because in my head I associate being saggy with being old. And though in my and my mom’s case it’s really genetics, I think we look much better with bras.

Read more comments

Join the Conversation