I was in sixth grade when a girl in my class who I was friendly with (and whose name I can’t remember) asked me if I wore a bra. I didn’t. Because I didn’t need one and because it wasn’t something I ever really thought about. This girl told me I should. My sister had given me her training bra when she outgrew it and I had it in my dresser drawer. So I started wearing that.
I don’t know if such things still exist, but now when I think of it, it’s a pretty strange idea….a training bra. I mean, where does the training come in. Are they training girls to wear a bra (not really that complicated) or maybe they’re training our breasts how behave in a bra.
Anyway, it was sometime around 6th grade that I started wearing a bra and sometime in high school that I stopped wearing a bra. I never had big breasts and I found wearing a bra more uncomfortable than not wearing one. It was also the late 70’s – 80’s and the feminist symbol of bra burning was fresh in my mind.
I did wear a bra one time after that. It was at my sister’s wedding. I was wearing a fitted dress that required a strapless bra. It was as uncomfortable as a regular bra, but became unbearable after I ate. I don’t know how women wore corsets and didn’t starve to death.
So now I’m 51, and I’ve been wearing undershirts or nothing instead of a bra for about 30 years, until Monday, when I had my fifth riding lesson. Kind of self explanatory. Age, gravity, a different distribution of more weight and all that bouncing around on Chloe……. well there was a lot bouncing around. Suddenly things shifted and wearing a bra was more comfortable than not wearing one.
And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. From what I remember, it seems to me that bra’s have changed in the last 30 years. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all. Since it was such a hot day, it was actually more comfortable than wearing an undershirt under my t-shirt.
But it’s not easy to just toss off an old belief. And not wearing a bra has become a belief for me. Not just a Feminist symbol, but a symbol of freedom and non-conformity. I was actually embarrassed to tell Jon I was wearing a bra, like it was something to be ashamed of. (He had a different reaction, he listened to me as he does and offered some support for my feelings. Then a wicked little smile spread over his face, pulling the conversation in a different direction which I won’t elaborate on).
But I’m not going to let my beliefs or shame keep me from being comfortable and doing what is best. Thirty years ago that meant not wearing a bra, today maybe it means wearing one. Not all the time of course. Just when it feel right, just when I choose to. And especially when I’m learning to trot with Chloe.