In the “stay at home” age, a euphemism (if there ever was one) for the global pandemic we’re living through, bras are quickly becoming a forgotten addendum, relics of a former life. Many women will tell you that one of the most satisfying moments of any given (pre-COVID-19) Wednesday is when they remove theirs—which begs the question, Why not live in that joy in perpetuity?
As I was recently quarantine-tapping through Instagram Stories (again), I landed on a Q&A hosted by French influencer Sabina Socol. Amid questions on beauty beats and clothing tags, someone posed a query asking why Socol rarely wears a bra—not to worry, the questioner qualified her statement with, “Not to be rude.” Socol responded by saying that she gets this “a lot.” And then she brushed it off breezily before answering the next. But as someone who has abandoned any hang-ups I may have had with putting my breasts out there for the world to see after 21 months of nursing my daughter everywhere from planes to abcV (oh, pre-shelter-at-home life), I wanted to know more. So I reached out to Socol.
“I never really knew what was behind this question before I did a Q&A in my Instagram Stories and asked my followers what that was about. I think for most of them it’s intriguing, like in a ‘How can she do it and not feel ashamed/judged?’ kind of way,” Socol explains.
So why doesn’t Socol wear a bra? “It’s very simple,” she says. “I realized at a very young age, as a teenager, that bras are uncomfortable, at least for me. I don’t like it when you can see them through T-shirts. I don’t care at all if we can see my nipples or the shape of my breasts. We all have them. I don’t think it’s offensive. I simply never think about it. I have a few bras for the love of beautiful lingerie or for very see-through pieces, that’s all. To me, it’s a matter of comfort and nothing else, and I wish more people saw it like that.”
The Paris-based Socol represents a long line of European ladies who have mostly abandoned them altogether, from her personal braless heroine, Kate Moss, to Jane Birkin to Brigitte Bardot. Modern women this side of the Atlantic who’ve embraced the un-embrace range from Kendall Jenner to Bella Hadid, and Rihanna.
Author and social commentator Roxane Gay tweeted this week, “Just put a bra on for the first time in who knows and my boobs said, Bitch what?” Gay is a well-known feminist, but she’s also straight up very funny on Twitter. But bras are so intrinsically tied to the feminist movement it’s nearly impossible to separate the two. In short, a feminist commenting on bras on Twitter is a feminist statement.
And Gay is hardly the only feminist casually celebrating bralessness. In the Emily Ratajkowski world of third-wave feminism, the 28-year-old model sees showing her nude body on Instagram as “a sort of interesting way to reclaim the gaze.”
She told author Naomi Wolf in the June/July 2017 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, “I loved in your book The Beauty Myth when you talk about this ideal world where women could dress sexually casually and it wouldn’t even be something that anyone would notice. For me, that’s something I’ve lived by. I don’t wear a bra all the time, and I don’t think about it.”
Socol says that she never saw going bra-free as a feminist statement, but then again … “Now that I think about it and realize that many women feel ashamed if they go braless, I think it kind of is. In a perfect world, I wish this wasn’t even a conversation. That would be real equality. If we have to make it a debate, then it means we’re not there yet. But if not wearing a bra is a key in opening that debate, then I’m happy to make it as a feminist gesture.”
So though we’re not calling for any bra burning (apparently, that wasn’t even ever actually a thing), our current in situ of literally being in situ for hours and hours at home, often bra-free, may make legions of women more comfortable staying that way. But as in all modern definitions of feminism, it all comes down to choice. To bra or not to bra? Free the nipple or don’t, as long as it’s within the confines of your abode—for now at least.