Going braless: A woman’s dilemma before freeing her nipples

Who gave a woman’s nipples such a bad rep in the first place?

Going braless is typically reserved for the summer months – for obvious reasons. During British winters a woman’s padded bra is a necessary barrier to falling temperatures and harsh wind. However, had my nipples not managed to peak through two layers of clothing this morning, I’d have left mine in the drawer. I saw the distinct outline and decided I wasn’t willing to have anyone’s surprised gaze meet my nipples in what is a very corporate office.

But the internal dialogue and second guessing reminded me of something I wrote this summer (which feels so far behind us now) for a competition. I didn’t win but writing the piece made me reflect on what other choices women make so to not offend others (other women included) despite our own nonchalance towards whatever it is.

Tell me afterwards if you’re a nipples out or in type of girl!

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Green melons which don’t reflect the size of my own boobs. Picture: helloimnik/Unsplash

Her nipple stood out like a sale sign on a glass window from under its white sheath. It was probably about the same size as mine, but the woman whose body they were placed on obviously felt far more confident with hers on show than I did that afternoon.

Enough to teasingly release the right buckle of her dungaree strap and expose her darkened nipple under a classic white tee, until whatever time she decided to leave the summer heat and go inside. My eyes were fixated on it until her nipple was adjacent to my right shoulder as her and a guy friend walked towards me in the opposite direction, and continued out of sight.

‘See,’ I thought, holding my upper back a little straighter as I deliberated which way to turn off from the busy High Street towards the hair salon. ‘Her nipple looked fine!’ Surely, this was a sign.

About an hour before her nipple and I became acquainted, I was in the bedroom mirror inspecting the side-boob on show in a citrus orange crocheted vest top. Outside was overcast and minute rainy spells since the night before meant the clouds covered up the sun’s intensity, but cream was still melting off my torso. Usually I’d only moisturise what’s on show, but given I didn’t actually know what I’d be wearing, I opted to proceed with the Garnier.

Regardless of anything, I wanted to wear that top.

‘It will be hot in the hairdressers… Hmm but I need to wax my armpits a little. Who’s going to see my armpits? True, but is this a bit much – side-boob and nipple? The crochet holes are small but – wait, can you see my areola through this?’ My instincts were leaning towards ‘wear something else’.

I did. A grey cropped t-shirt. Still braless though, but nothing which would make passers-by feel uncomfortable or draw any unwanted attention. Never mind the fact I’m cool with the amount of skin on show, as long as the strangers outside aren’t offended.

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A woman’s cleavage in silk lingerie. Picture: Sharon McCutcheon/ Unsplash

There are two things in life I love: being barefoot and braless. I have small tits and soft feet.

My small boobs give me the freedom to not need a bra but somehow, without me really knowing where the message came from, I feel the need to cover up my button nipples or risk them being seen as offensive. It’s the same reason not wearing a bra to work puts me in a dilemma.

‘Only if the top is a solid colour or thick enough fabric,’ I tell myself. Or it’s warm enough so I can semi guarantee my nipples won’t get a sudden semi of their own. It’s not even that I’m anxious any men in my office will actually be looking, just subconsciously, covering them seems like the polite and professional thing to do.

Personally speaking, though, I’m not prudish enough to care.

During a heatwave, you can be sure I won’t be wearing a bra, of either the non-wired or seamless variety. Freeing my breasts from the prison they find themselves in, inside my Dolly Parton-padded bra (which by the way makes my petite frame look ridiculous), is quite a regular thing on the weekend. But depending on the environment, I second-guess my benign nudity.

I suppose women are so used to being sexualised, it’s already disrupted how we relate our sexuality to our physicality. Freeing the nipple for me is both practical and a statement – ‘I will adopt the social and gender niceties I see fit, and reject the rest’.

Everyone knows what nipples look and feel like so why, just because I’m female, must mine be an erotic symbol all the time? When they’re peeking through a lace teddy with my partner’s face inches from devouring them, that’s the exact feeling I want my nipples to arouse. However, outside, on a blazing hot day in July, or even a windswept evening in October, they’re just part of the human anatomy, much like arms and legs.

Ultimately, that’s girl’s nipple taught me something that afternoon, and it was timed too well not to mean something. Fuck everyone else’s comfort – free the nips.

MORE BOOB TALK: The Slumflower – Why saggy boobs matter 

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