The Blurt Diary: Bralessness and Nipple Love

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…

Entry #1

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.

This more recent shot was featured in a Brazilian mag. Sad that I'm inclined to cover parts that Brazilians celebrate.

This more recent shot was featured in a Brazilian mag. Sad that I’m inclined to cover parts that Brazilians celebrate.

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. ;)

Leave a comment

37 Comments

  1. I believe what you do with or show on your own body should be an individual decision as long as children are not subjected to (or should I say exposed to)anything that might disturbing purposely harm them. While we are on the topic, I can’t help but recall the famous one liner blurted out by Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation when staring at a beautiful lingerie model named Mary. He simply stated, and I quote, “It’s bit nipply in here, I mean nippy in here.” That line should probably been deleted from the scene as hilarious as it was…

    Reply
    • Valid point. I think determining where that line falls (what disturbs kids versus doesn’t) can be tough—particularly in a culture laden with mixed messages.

      Ha. Gotta love the National Lampoon blurt. ;)

      Reply
  2. What century are we living in again? Is this all the people in North Carolina have to worry about??? *rolls eyes*. Sometimes, I don’t want to live on this planet. And I wish they’d stop trying to regulate female bodies. Rant aside, I can’t stand wearing bras. I’ve never found a comfortable one…they all suck. I’d much rather go without, but sadly (or happily, depending on your point of view) my ladies are way too large to go without support all day. And nobody wants to see me walking around sans holster, not to mention it kinda hurts. I’ve always been envious of women who didn’t need to wear one. When I’m at home and getting comfy for the evening that’s the first thing that flies off my body. I usually do the trick of getting it off without removing my shirt, which always makes my husband laugh and shake his head in…well, disappointment? I guess he’d rather see a show ;-)

    Reply
    • LOL I love the bit about your hubby’s show miss-age. (Guessing he wouldn’t complain about your walking around sans holster. ;)) And I’m sure women with smaller breasts envy you for other reasons. I suppose there are pros and cons throughout the breast size spectrum…

      What century, indeed. I hope that other parts of the world, where people celebrate breasts and nipples in respectful ways, stay untainted by American restriction. I see no benefit in regulating femininity or our bodies.

      Reply
  3. Seriously, North Carolina needs to chill out. Nipples are sexy and fun! My husband often comes home from a long day at work to find me in my office, my bra thrown on the floor at my feet. I’ll wear one out in public, but really, I shouldn’t have to endure the torture in my own home! And I since I don’t really want the girls hanging down around my ankles, I do try to wear one as much as possible, but I have limits.

    I’ve always envied women with breasts like yours. I’d love to be able to rock the braless look with sassy strapless dresses.

    Reply
    • Agreed, Tameri! So glad you and your husband celebrate your womanliness.
      We less-endowed women envy your voluptuousness. If only we could wear different sizes (sans padding) on different days…sort of like natural wigs. ;)

      Reply
  4. Hey, it’s North Carolina. What would you expect!? :)

    Reply
  5. I wonder if N.C. is going to pass a law that requires people to keep their plumber’s cleavage covered, too. Because you know what? If they’re going to pick on women…for goodness sake, pass laws to prevent things that are actually offensive (and plumber’s cleavage rates at the top of MY list). And what about man boobs/nipples? Do THEY have to start wearing bras now? Let me tell you, some men have bigger boobs than a lot of women.

    Do I wear bras? Most of the time, yes. I went from flat chested when I was about fourteen, to not even remotely close to flat chested overnight, so I got used to it early. Do I like bras? Nope. :)

    Reply
  6. Okay, I’m one of those small-breasted women you all envy. I stopped wearing bras twenty years ago and have never looked back. It does have some downsides. You do sag a little sooner than you might have otherwise and you have to pick your clothes carefully. The latter all because of our nipple aversion in this country. I’m partial to camp shirts. That extra layer of material in the breast pockets is enough to keep my nipples from showing.

    And I love this new series, August! I hope you blurt often.

    Reply
    • Aw. Thanks, Kassandra! Your kudos means a ton. And you’re absolutely right; there are plusses and minuses, regardless of our breast shape and size.

      Reply
  7. A plastic surgeon/writer friend, Dr Mike Bumagin, tells me women who have breast reduction surgery are the happiest patients he has. Not only are their burdens reduced, but something about it makes their nipples more sensitive. He told me about a nurse he did the surgery on who could actually climax just walking around from the sensual effect of the rubbing of her shirt against her braless nipples.

    Reply
  8. Doesn’t North Carolina have better things to worry about?

    I was hoping for a step-by-step on discreet public bra removal. I’m thinking that’s a skill every woman should have in her toolbox. Perhaps an infographic tutorial, Autumn? Then we could Pin it. I’ve got two boards it would work well for. :-)

    I wear a bra most of the time, because if I don’t the already gravity-challenged girls will end up at my waist, but I’d prefer to go braless. I’ve discovered the joys of the (as seen on TV) Genie bra, which keeps my breasts where they belong, is comfortable, boasts straps that stay in place, and has no hardware to bother with. Pull it on, pull it off. <- That would be a great exercise for Daniel-san, no?

    Nipples: we all have them. (Shocker for some, apparently. *peers at legislators to the south*)

    Reply
  9. Wow… sometimes I wonder where this kind phobia comes from?

    Actually I started giggling when I realized that the law that makes female nipples show illegal is probably made by exactly the same men who love to see them the most…
    Maybe… oh… wait…
    Eventually it might be a hell lot better to shut up right now… I don’t want to end in prison. *grin*

    I love your blog August. Did I tell you that already? :-)

    Reply
  10. Ok, lingerie manager speaking here: The majority of women are usually wearing the wrong size bra. If you find your bra riding up in the back or the straps slipping off your shoulders or the front gapping instead of laying against your chest…well, you better come and see me! Have you ever tried the Wacoal brand? Their convertible bra is my all time favorite t-shirt bra ever. It’s sadly discontinued, but they have many other great ones. The U-sport is my fave workout bra. It allows way more adjustments and movement than stupid over the head, suck in and strap everything down sports bras! Ugh!

    That being said, I love a tank top and no-bra at bedtime.

    Reply
  11. Oh girl! I’m feeling ya on this one! I despise bras! Always have. Although I’m 44 years old and rockin 40D’s, I don’t feel comfy going out in public braless but as soon as I get home, that bish is OFF! Can’t standto feel binded up and imo, there is no such thing as a comfy bra. They are all too constricting. I say we go back to the old days and all be able to go braless and feel comfy. Heck, if mom’s can whip a boob out in public to breast feed, why can’t I go braless when I go shopping? :)

    Reply
  12. Okay, a comment on the North Carolina edict making 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.”

    If I’m not mistaken, skin excretes sweat. Will we all now need to be covered head to toe?

    Reply
  13. For the most part, I don’t like bras. They are never comfortable and I am not one of those women who actually need one. I wear one at work because 1. nipples are not appropriate with school aged children, and 2. the extra layers of fabric add to the illusion of boobs. At the gym I wear a sports bra, but once I am home, the bra comes off and I usually put on a tank top and pajama pants. If I am at home, I am comfortable. :) I do think we are too cover-up crazy in the US. Maybe it is because we are so quick to sexualize everything that people worry about seeing things like nipples? Personally, I don’t want strangers to see mine, but really, that is a personal decision for each person to make.

    Reply
  14. I am seeing you launch your own bra line one day :) Bras are awful please design a good one.

    Reply
  15. Great post August. It’s a strange world indeed when legislators want to ban nipples doing what nipples do best, standing out. I can understand penile erections not being on show in public but what do they do with breast feeding mothers? Surely there must be more pressing matters in NC that require politicians to look into?
    Cheers
    Laurie

    Reply
  16. What an interesting post. I have to admit, being male and for the greater part of the day still with pulse, I found myself lured by your title and fortunately not disappointed by content. As a man married for 25 years, I have heard the bra cursed as an inquisitional torture device since, well, seemingly forever. I say enough! Women, cast your inhibitor aside! Embrace gravitational freedom! I promise to do the same; I’m done sucking in my gut and wearing age-appropriate clothing! If we all just agree to look away….

    Reply
  17. Okay, not going to talk about my feelings on me wearing a bra. However, I do think that it should be up to the woman and the circumstances. One interesting observation: is it so much better to be able to see the entire bra, the color, the type of material, the tag? That’s what I do notice on a lot of outfits that are reasonably sheer or don’t cover the same as a full dress or shirt. As for NC, that is one of the central states of the Bible belt and I think they are being quite ridiculous. It’s another of those segregated laws of men and women. I don’t think America is quite ready for the French or Brazilian style women and apparel, but I think that NC is going too far in trying to order women to be a certain way.
    Scott

    Reply
  18. I don’t mind wearing one nowadays, mostly because I like to defy gravity. :) My daughter has a love hate thing going with bras but that’s because she’s much farther along in the alphabet when it comes to bra sizes than I ever came close to.
    And btw I’m with Kristy about those plumber cracks!

    Reply
  19. I don’t like bras. I don’t always wear one unless I leave the house. What is worse? Shopping for a bra. I am convienced that men design them. And just when you find a style that works for you, they discontinue it and you have to go through the whole process again. Now about North Carolina. Strange bill. What happens to those woman who nurse? And I agree. I also think Kristy’s got a exellent point. :)

    Reply
  20. Blurt it out, eh? August, August, August…I had a one-liner in my nefarious noggin from your first sentence.

    “Do you ever sit down to write a particular thing and something entirely different pops out?”

    [The A to that Q is yes, btw.]

    Back to my nefarious noggin. Different situation. Man and woman. Ask for hug. …something entirely different pops out…

    On to nipples and bras. I rarely go braless in public because I like the lift I get from Victoria. Around the house and on grunge days with sweatshirts? My nipples love to roam around unencumbered on the inside of soft fleece.

    And, SQUEEEE! I found the stupid law I can break in N.C.

    My goal is to break one stupid law per state during my Mini Winnie travels.

    Examples: In Cincinnati, Ohio, it is illegal to walk backwards in front of a food vendor. It’s also illegal to fish for whales on Sunday throughout the state. Got it!

    I still need one for Georgia. Their most stupid law (so far) comes from Atlanta: “it is illegal to grow pubic hair longer than six inches.” Sorry. Temping as it might be to say, “break out the ruler and let’s check,” I. Can. Not. Go. There.

    Ooooh. I feel a blog coming on!

    In Louisville, Kentucky, it is illegal to walk down a street with an ice cream cone in your back pocket. In Pennsylvania….

    Reply
  21. I have stripped out of my bra in public before, too. LOL–not a lot to notice here either. :-) If I could get away without wearing one at the day job, I would. The bra comes off before my shoes do when I get home. Love the blurt, August!

    Reply
  22. I really have nothing productive to offer, but feel free to write about your anatomy anytime you like, August. This was brilliant!

    Reply
  23. Truly, I think masochistic men created bras. Why else would the adjust for a bra be in the BACK?? That makes no sense at all. Funny, as a friend would refer to this man at work he calls “nipple man.” Apparently the guy did not wear an undershirt under his dress shirt and offices get cold. LOL. So see, men’s nipples can offend too! :) Honestly, as a mother and woman I think breast feeding in public is so gross. I dont want to see it! I never liked breast feeding my son either…totally uncomfortable that something once used for pleasure was now used for food. Ick! That’s just my opinion and I know many feel otherwise. Good for you!

    As for me, I never had boobs until I had a child. I am on a quest to find the most comfy bra ever where the straps never fall down. I dont see why this is so hard to create! I love wearing bras and keeping it all compact. I guess, I dont like it hanging loose…come to think of it I dont like to see guys junk flopping loose all over either. Eww. Pack it in some nice snug white boxers and I’m ready to look at that! Yum.Great post, August!

    Reply
  24. Just stumbled across an article I was going to share with you, then realized this would really be the only appropriate place to leave it: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/style/207572801.html

    Reply
  1. Gorilla Love: When April Fools’ Day Goes Right-ish | August McLaughlin's Blog

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