I know that all MTF transitioners value the privilege of wearing a bra. A bra is one of those iconic badges of womanhood. But I am going to stop wearing them, except in circumstances when it would be inappropriate to go braless. I'm doing this primarily for comfort. I'm doing it because it doesn't feel right to use artificial means to restrain my boobs. But lately I've become aware (as if it were not fairly obvious, when you think of it) that confining these delicate female structures in a wire and fabric harness may actually be bad for them.
The comfort aspect is paramount. What woman hasn't cursed an ill-fitting bra? It is certainly possible (and always advisable) to get sized by an expert at regular intervals, and to abide by their recommendations. But this means expense. I understand that if I went up to a certain Knightsbridge shop in London to get fitted, and to purchase just one good bra, I'd probably have little change of £100. And really you need at least three to wear in rotation. I'd do that to have properly-made and properly-fitting support - if I needed the support.
But look, even after nearly six years on HRT, I am still only - barely - a theoretical 40A cup. I have been making do with size 38AA bras that have been stretched with washing, and then extended further with a home-made bra strap extender.
I can manage because I have teenage bumps. There is no great weight there, and therefore no great need for supporting scaffolding. They are proud enough without it. And they would be prouder still, if I genuinely had teen skin! But the point is, they are not great fatty bags, dragging me forward and straining my neck and back muscles. Nor are they structureless, dessicated withered sacks. They are small but shapely, still growing at the rate of a few millimetres every year. As if I were fourteen with more growth to come. I can't see that their shape is going to deteriorate anytime soon. I will have breathed my last before they look like the breasts of a witch. (My apologies to any witches reading this, who have dessicated withered sacks, and feel sensitive about the fact. No offence is intended. I merely seek a simile)
Back to the comfort issue. No man can understand what relief there is in shedding a cheap, tight bra after a shopping trip. It hardly needs justification. One can breathe! And one's breasts can float on air. As indeed nature intended. Going braless is how most of the world's female population, past and present, treat their beasts - either through necessity, practicality, or custom.
Then there's my point about not wanting artificiality. Here I will, I'm sure, come under fire from transitioners who would die rather than give up their bras (and whatever they use to fill them). But I'm not trying to deprive anyone of anything. I'm speaking for myself only. And my personal inclinations are all against substituting artificial things for natural things, at least in the area of appearance. So, for instance, I consider it much better to eat a nutritious and balanced diet, and acquire a good complexion that way, rather than eat junk food and disguise the bad results with layers of makeup. I wear only lipstick. I still look a bit rough - but hey, I'm in my sixties, not my twenties. And when I ever compare my complexion with other women of my generation, I often feel my strategy of eating well, and using minimum makeup, is one that pays off. OK, my notion of a 'nutritious diet' errs on the side of being too nutritious! But that doesn't alter the broad result of my personal approach.
With breasts there are cultural aspects to consider. In the West - and not only the West - the custom has generally been to cover up and restrain those parts of the body that act as sexual triggers. Thus men who wear tight jeans or trousers that show off their bulge too much will be frowned upon. Thus women who display too much exposed flesh, too much cleavage, nipples thrusting too obviously beneath filmy fabric, or indeed too much of their natural body shape, will be frowned upon. There are certainly more prohibitions against women than men! It seems unfair. And most of these prohibitions are surely instigated by men. One suspects it's the men who secretly lust after wobbly bottoms and bouncing boobs, but fear their wives, or career damage, that make these 'rules'. Or it might be the wives, fearful of younger women who can distract their husbands, who insist that their shapelier sisters conform to 'standards'. And any that don't 'are simply asking for it'. Be that as it may, women have historically, in the West, tended to dress as men have required - whether demurely for the workplace, or provocatively for the bedroom. And not so much to please themselves. It's a potential problem, even now in 2015.
Did I say, a couple of posts ago, that I was unwilling to conform to any social rule that ran counter to my best interests? So it is with breast confinement. I'd do it for a visit to Buckingham Palace - to be made a Dame of the British Empire, nothing less - just in case my breasts fell out while curtseying. I'd do it if meeting a company of soldiers, or any group of men dangerously tanked up on testosterone. But from now on I'm going to leave off the bra as much as possible, and give my breasts their freedom to wobble and swing as they wish. Or as much as small breasts can. Exactly as nature intended.
What about the health issue? I can't speak with any authority here. All I can do is regurgitate some articles I found on the Internet. Such as these, which seem factual:
Or this article, more light-hearted:
The official research mentioned indicates conclusions that may be so, or may not be so. I certainly think there is a case for not constantly wearing any kind of tight, confining garment. I can certainly see that tightness and unyielding straps could have consequences, be it only skin abrasions or long-term flesh indentation. I do feel sufficiently persuaded to go easy on wearing bras in the future - just in case.
That's me. I hesitated over showing this picture, but it's soft-focus enough, and it does back up what I've been saying. You can see that I really do have small breasts! And yet combined with a large ribcage, which spells bra-buying problems.
The breast skin is unnaturally free of stretch marks, and, generally, that 'tired' look which I should have at my age. I'm not of course complaining about this; but it's a potential problem for intimate situations, this mismatch between one part of the body and another. What I mostly see in this shot, even though it's meant to illustrate my bust, is my 'big pregnant tummy'. The camera lens has exaggerated its size, but even so... You can see why HRT is the enemy of slimness, even if it's the Magic Bullet that can make you look a bit younger!
Will this Braless Programme last very long? I have no idea. It may prove unworkable. For instance, caravanning requires an awful lot of bending over, and I can just imagine the havoc I might cause when setting-up, or filling my water containers, at a Caravan Club site! And it might prove just too embarrassing to walk along a promenade in summer in a thin top.
Will I invest in any more bras? Oh yes. I want to discard all my existing bras and buy three pukka ones from a good shop, after an expert fitting. Then I will at last possess three bras that won't feel uncomfortable, and can be worn whenever a bra really needs to be worn. But there is no point in doing this until I've shed whatever flab I'm going to this year.
It will be interesting to learn how people react to that photo above. It surely won't be regarded as provocative by any woman. It does the job. It illustrates what I'm saying about myself. You can't even tell that it's me.
What about the men? Do many of them read this blog? I'm hoping that any that do will read the whole post, and understand what it's about, and not simply fixate on one photo. Although I imagine - this has to be complete conjecture - that the average man who seeks out and gawps at bare tits will turn away feeling cheated, as mine will not be nearly big enough. Ah, you see my cunning plan: give 'em a sneak preview, and they'll stay off my back.