When can I go braless?

You’re not the only one having an anti-bra moment. When many dress habits were disregarded during the pandemic lockdowns, the no-bra movement, which has resurfaced regularly since the 1960s, picked up steam again (partly spearheaded by Florence Pugh, above).

But when it comes to the “to wear a bra or not” question, especially when we get back to the office and summer is coming to an end, there are actually three types of questions: the literal, the physical, and the sociocultural.

First things first: There are no rules in the truest sense of the word, i.e. laws that regulate women’s underwear. Instead, the laws focus on body parts and what can and cannot be shown. Indiana, for example, outlaws public lewdness, then defines it in part as “the display of a woman’s breast with less than a totally opaque covering of part of the nipple.”

However, a number of states, including New York, Utah, and Oklahoma, as well as many other cities (including Madison), allow women to go topless in public. Which also means: without a bra.

According to Susan Scafidi, founder of the Fashion Law Institute, things get a little more complicated when it comes to workplace dress codes. She said New York City was the first jurisdiction to insist on “complete gender neutrality,” meaning an employer “can require a person posing as a woman to wear a bra or hide their nipples, but only if the same rule applies to a male employee.”

You can imagine “SNL” having a big day with that. But the current situation is better than it was in 2010, when the investment bank UBS issued a 44-page dress code that required its employees to wear skin-colored underwear, among other things.

When it comes to federal law, Ms Scafidi said, “it only requires that the dress code provide for gender parity in terms of burdens like costs.” Whether bras pose an additional financial burden has not yet been clarified.

As for the idea that bras are necessary for women’s health, Cassann Blake, director of breast care at a Cleveland Clinic hospital in Weston, Fla., said on her health blog that there’s no particular medical reason to wear a bra wear (and that). Bras don’t prevent sagging) – although women with particularly large breasts may find that a sports bra reduces back strain.

That brings me to the elephant – or whistle – in the room. After all, going bra-free isn’t just about changing the habit of underwear. It’s about gender norms, the reality (and historical fear) of the female body, power struggles and sexual stereotypes.

Being presented with bare breasts, whether the nipples are showing or not, means having to confront deep-seated prejudices about it all, and for many people this is both unsettling and distracting. Especially at this particular moment, when control over women’s bodies and their reproductive purpose has once again become a hot political issue. It reminds me of the excitement that arose a few years ago when the parents of a Notre Dame coed complained about girls in leggings, saying they distracted the boys.

Of course, it’s not your job to make other people comfortable or help them sort out their own feelings about any of the above. However, if you actually have a job, group dynamics are also important, and you may not want to spend a lot of time with co-workers discussing your breasts. However, at least for now, it’s still your decision.

Each week, Vanessa answers a reader’s fashion-related question in the Open Thread, which you can send her at any time via E-mail or Twitter. Questions are edited and compressed.

Source: www.nytimes.com

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Laura Turner

Bridging science & words. Communicating intricate technologies and discoveries to the curious minds.

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