Do you ever sit down to write a particular thing and something entirely different pops out? (I’m not talking about nipples—yet.) That happens to me often, being a pantser, and to varying degrees. This post took on a blurt-style alien life form. (I plead jet lag.) Rather than trash or “normalize” it, I’ve decided to launch a new series that will appear at its own sporadic will. Welcome to my blurt diary…
I spent the greater part of the past week in Minnesota, and had a wonderful time. As I ease back into the “usual” (whatever that is) grind, I’d planned on sharing profound thoughts and words that struck me throughout the trip. And I probably will, soon. Today, however, I have bras on the brain. Here’s why:
I was at a cafe today, wearing my least comfortable bra. (It’s laundry day, so I made do.) As I squirmed about, one hand on my latte, the other on the digging-into-me strap, my friend Katie shot me a “go out in public much?” look. “I hate bras, especially this one,” I told her.
“So take it off,” she said.
So I did. With a swift move, I undid the clutch in the back and slipped it through out the bottom of my shirt then stuffed it in my purse—in all of three seconds. “Ah… Better.”
“You didn’t,” she said.
I flashed her the crumpled Hanes in my purse.
Her eyes widened. “How the heck did you do that? Must be a modeling trick.”
Everyone guesses that, I explained, but it’s more like the opposite. Growing up in a modest family and community, I was pretty shocked to learn that in the fashion world, most models simply strip. Sure, you might have a dressing room, but more often than not, numerous folks are nearby as you bare it all. Runway shows in particular leave little time for modesty. I learned this while being prepped for my first show in Minneapolis. My dresser, to my shock and horror, was Mrs. Bigsley—a woman from my parents’ church. Her head was inches away from my sheer panties when she looked up and introduced herself: “I just saw them at Prayer Circle the other day!”
AGH! I’m sure I spoke back, but I don’t recall the conversation. How can one chit chat comfortably when someone who recites scripture with your parents is all over your nakedness, arranging your nylons and taping your bra in place?!? I got over the strip-down eventually. And a few months later, after I’d moved from Minneapolis to New York, I was grateful that Mrs. Bigsley had de-virginized me.
One of my first jobs in the Big Apple made me blush like one—the male models, worse so. In the name of Calvin Klein undies, 12 of us stood smashed together in a tiny area, the six guy models behind us gals. We all wore only bottoms, and the guys’ hands were our “bras.” To maintain the underwear, um, smoothness, cold fans blew on the guys. (Perhaps that’s why the males seemed the least comfortable.)
Back then, my breasts had shrunken down with my body size. And regardless, I’ve always had muscular breasts—more medium than large, making bralessness easy. The undergarments soon became a needless accessory, and an article of clothing seldom seen on shoot sets. I wish that that had carried over into all circles in my life. If I were to show up at a professional event sans bra, it’s easy to guess where eyes would land—not because female nipples are bad or unusual (obviously), but viewed by our society as risque and off-limits in public.
I was reminded today of how liberating and refreshing it is bid the boob-holster farewell. Sometimes, it’s necessary. (Just ask Natalie Hartford.) I’ve yet to find a bra that fits so wonderfully that my not-huge breasts are happier with than without. Honestly, what’s the point of nipple covers? Somewhere along the line I developed sneaky ways to to away with them as needed. If our culture wasn’t so dang nipple phobic, I’d go sans brassiere all the time.
I realize that bras are essential for some and for most women at particular times. I just wonder why we have to be so darn nipple conscious. Nipples, to me, are beautiful—mens’ and womens’. I love their shape, their sensitivity, the way they enlarge and harden when aroused. I love seeing and feeling them through shirts—um, not in a stalker/gawker way.
For those of you who agree with me to some extent, prepare to be aggravated. State reps in North Carolina introduced a bill this year that would make female nipple exposure a criminal offense, worthy of jail time. With the exception of nursing mothers, the proposed bill would make it a felony to expose “external organs of sex and of excretion, including the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breast.”
I’m not suggesting that women should run around topless, but I do think that a bit of nipple respect is in order.
How do you feel about bras? What about nipples? Do your breasts long for breathing room as much as mine do? Ever removed uncomfy underwear in public? How do you feel about the nipple bill in North Carolina? All respectful blurts welcome.