We all know what training bras are right? The little, flimsy bralettes worn by little girls who haven’t quite developed a bust yet. It’s considered a rite of passage for a girl to don the garment when her mother feels she’s going from “little girl” to “young lady.” She doesn't need a bra, but wears it anyway.
It’s pretty simple. They don’t need to wear bras, but they want to. It might make them feel more mature and grown up. Or maybe they just feel cute having a ruffled or striped bralette in their favorite colors under their shirts. There’s really no reason to do it. But they do it anyway. Popularized in the 1950s, training bras were recommended by medical professionals who claimed the loose bralettes provided support for budding breasts. This was later disproven, considering there is so little breast tissue, support is unnecessary. Nevertheless, training bras continued to be produced and passed along from mother to pre-teen daughter even today. So the question remains: why? Why wear little bras if you don’t need to? It can smooth out the chest under a shirt, and conceal and protect the nipples, but that’s about it. Well, it’s really just in their heads.
Chances are these girls are not picking out their bras by themselves. They go out with their mothers, aunts, older sisters, in an estrogen-fueled gaggle. These women, familiar with the world of bra shopping, invite their little lady to a seat at the table. These girls grow up, become used to buying and wearing bras, and that’s that.
Fast forward to adulthood and diagnoses. Many bras of various sizes and a double mastectomy later, and it’s right back to square one. Walking up and down aisles, full of uncertainty. As a pre-teen, you weren’t alone bra shopping. You turned to your mother or other important women in your life. So who is it you turn to as an adult? Hopefully some of the same women who were there for you as a child, but with a few new faces. Your Sisters in Scars. A community of women who know the doubts and concerns you face because they faced the same ones themselves.
Again, you don’t need one, so why wear one? Same reason: you want to. You like the feeling of the fabric, having something pretty under your tops, or just the knowledge that it’s there. Whatever the reason, you have one, and that’s enough. You want to wear a bra and you deserve ones that suit you, just as any other woman. Your bra should be gentle over your scars and smooth out your chest under whatever you’re wearing. Not to mention beautiful and sexy for you and anyone else who gets the pleasure of seeing it on you. You deserve to be comfortable, you deserve to feel beautiful, and you deserve the feeling of taking your bra off after a long day.
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Guest Post: Katharine Doughty
When I found a lump in my chest in early 2010, I was ten years into a series of 26 self-portraits with four 4 images to complete. A theme of reclaiming runs throughout the project: reclaiming of self-representation, of our personal and collective stories and the power of visual image. Be it ten years or ten minutes, the essential gift is the same: focused discovery and reflection via the arts allows us to be a witness to ourselves. To hear and respond creatively to our bodies with our bodies is to reclaim a role in the healing of our bodies.