Going braless: Why women are ditching the brassiere

This summer, many women around the world quietly put away their bras.

'I think people are embracing their natural body shape'

Katharine MacDonald at her vintage store in Murray River, P.E.I.. (Submitted by Katharine MacDonald)

This summer, many women around the world quietly put away their bras.

There weren't many protests, or public bra-burnings of note — just lots and lots of photos on social media, many including the hashtag #freethenipple.

Bralessness for me is a part of a bigger movement for myself to become body positive.— Katharine MacDonald, 27

Endorsed by celebrities like Kylie Jenner, I noticed the braless style at my house this summer and asked what was going on. 

"Everybody's doing it now, mom," my teenage daughters said, with plenty of eye-rolling at my lack of hipness. "Free the nipple, come on!"

'Really comfortable'

"I have been going without a bra more and more and probably five days a week for the past few months, and it's been really comfortable," said Katharine MacDonald of Charlottetown.

The 27-year-old graduate student and vintage shop owner posted an Instagram photo of herself braless in a tight striped crop top this summer, noting "I haven't worn a bra in like a week."

"I really only wear one when I need to — in a professional setting or when an outfit calls for it," said MacDonald. 

"I think people are embracing their natural body shape," MacDonald said, noting that some women are choosing to go with unstructured bralettes as an alternative to going braless. 

Student and vintage shop owner Katharine MacDonald has embraced the braless trend wholeheartedly. (Submitted by Katharine MacDonald)

"Ultimately, bralessness for me is a part of a bigger movement for myself to become body positive, getting comfortable just with myself," said MacDonald, noting she has received nothing but positive and encouraging comments on her new look.

'Courage to let it all hang out'

I'm just like, still on the edge of self-consciousness about it.— Becca Griffin, 23

MacDonald's posts inspired Charlottetown actor Becca Griffin to take the plunge — something she'd always avoided because she thought her chest was too big. 

"She's given me more courage to let it all hang out. Because, who cares?" the 23-year-old Griffin laughed. "It feels free and it feels nice. And it's great to see other women venturing down this path, because it gives you confidence in yourself." 

'Very vulnerable'

Although she calls it an "awesome trend," Griffin admits to being very self-conscious trying it.

23-year-old P.E.I. actor Becca Griffin is trying the braless trend and liking it. (Submitted by Becca Griffin )

"I feel like I'm very vulnerable without a bra," she said.

She decided to try out the braless look at a family gathering this summer and no one said anything to her about it.

When she brought it to her mother's attention, admitting she felt like she was "sagging a bit," Griffin's mom told her she looked great and she should dress how she wants.

'Go for it'

MacDonald believes as well as a fashion trend, going braless is part of a "new wave of feminism" in which women are challenging expectations of how they should act and look — but believes individuals should make their own choice.

The trend has even inspired crafters. (pansypath/Instagram )

Professor of Diversity and Social Justice Studies at UPEI Ann Braithwaite hasn't worn a bra since she was 16, and is interested in this latest iteration of the braless trend. 

"If it's more comfortable — physically, mentally, or emotionally — then go for it. But I suspect that our levels of comfort are something else we've been conditioned into and presented with for so long and in so many ways that it's hard to think outside that box," she said.

UPEI professor Ann Braithwaite says she hasn't worn a bra since she was 16.

"Given how many women talk about … how bras are uncomfortable … What's the comfort exactly?"

We've come a long way since 1999 in which U.S. soccer player Brandi Chastain shot to fame after famously ripping off her shirt after winning a match to expose her — gasp — black sports bra.

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca