Why Women Wear Bras and Get Breast Implants.
Rita, one of my friends, hates wearing bras. Her family used to make fun of her when she didn’t wear any. “Why would you want to walk around with sagging breasts? You’re inviting men to touch you and have sex with you” they’d tell her.
Shonda, another of my friends, was always mocked about her tiny breasts. “Why bother wearing a bra when you have peanuts for breasts?” her family would say. She says the criticism made her feel humiliated, insecure about her breast size and had a negative impact on her self-esteem.
According to an article in The Postoast, a woman named Herminie CadolleBras invented the first bra in 1869 (Shalini, para 6). The aim was to provide better support and comfort for the breasts. I sometimes agree it makes sense to wear a bra on certain occasions. When I’m running, for example, I’ll need a bra. Running or jogging without breast support can be uncomfortable if not painful.
But do I always want to wear a bra? No.
For my internship interview in my sophomore (second) year of college, I wore a bra that decided to malfunction halfway through my trip to the office. Too late to turn back, I thought, “it’s cool.. I’ll manage.” I didn’t. Unfortunately, the bra metal underneath the cup had poked out of the cloth and was directly piercing the flesh underneath my breast. Every time I moved my hand to write or to gesture, it pierced. For all of my nerves and lack of courage, I was far too afraid to ask to use the restroom during the interview. I thought, “They’ll think I’m too nervous”. I was. “They’ll think I’m ill-prepared.” I kept talking myself out of it until it was too late. I was stuck in an interview, half concentrating and half in pain. As most software engineering technical interviews go, you must write code at some point. When I got the marker to write on the board, with every line of code I wrote, I had to fight back the urge to rip my blouse together with the bra and just say “To hell with this.” That was possibly my worst interview. I didn’t get that internship and I know it had everything to do with that bra.
Bras can be extremely uncomfortable. Finding the right size in the perfect material is difficult. If women could choose, many would-be without bras most times. But why don’t they?
The voices of society.
Society has the ability to talk to us in a way that subconsciously shapes how we see ourselves. Some use her voice as a measuring stick for where they rank. For some women, their confidence is linked to how society responds to their presence. If the response is negative, they immediately wonder — well, what’s wrong with me? I’m not good enough?
Lack of self-confidence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Even if women are well dressed and choose not to wear bras because they are more relaxed without them, society always points a finger and insists that we conform to its expectations whether we like it or not. If you rebel, you’re ridiculed, bullied, or accused of seeking sexual attention. The effects of these comments are often trivialized but the repercussions are loud and clear. Women begin to doubt their own judgment about their bodies and self-doubt begins to creep in.
Shonda didn’t get breast implants. But many women in her position have opted to. People assume, “All these women with breast implants are getting them to attract men.” Some maybe, but not all. Most women get breast implants to rebuild their self-confidence. When women are shamed for their natural small breast size, it tears away at their self-image. They start to see themselves through the lens of society’s criticism. They believe they can’t measure up because they’ve been told “they’re not good enough” in their natural state. As a result, they get breast implants to help them overcome internalized self-hatred.
A few medical researchers in Norway conducted a study on breast implant patients (Kalaaji et al., 2013). Their results showed 48% of women were motivated to get breast implants because of reduced self-esteem. After surgery, 73% reported they now felt like a “whole person” and showed improved motivation for life and a reduced rate of depression. Other studies on breast surgery show that women have a boost in self-esteem and confidence after getting implants.
When we wonder why our girls can’t speak up in boardrooms, lead fearlessly, and show up in their lives with courage, we should consider what we’re doing to make them feel embarrassed and insecure. Only when we encourage women to be comfortable in their own skin can they be confident and present in their daily lives.
Do we wonder why our generation can’t color outside the lines and create their own path of success? It begins when we can’t let them own their bodies or accept how they dress. They are watching how we respond as a society. Our mockery and criticism tell them they have to conform to our standards. We have to approve before we accept them.
So they color within the lines.
Society is you and I. If we don’t question our behavior, beliefs, and norms that don’t support our well-being as a collective then we are slowly killing the individuality of our generation.
Shalini, et al. “History Of Bra: Origin, Evolution, And Why Women Wear It.” Postoast, 3 Aug. 2020, www.postoast.com/history-of-bra/.
K;, Kalaaji A;Bjertness CB;Nordahl C;Olafsen. “Survey of Breast Implant Patients: Characteristics, Depression Rate, and Quality of Life.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23324358/.