Society and Culture
In Wyoming without a Bra
by Abbie Johnson Taylor
“To wear a bra or not to wear a bra, that is the question.” If Shakespeare were a woman in this day and age, he might have written that.
When I was a teenager in the 1970’s, my mother told me I didn’t need to wear a bra. But knowing I wanted to fit in with other girls my age, she bought me one. I remember the box it came in that said, “Her first bra.”
The bra itself was made of cloth. I had a hard time fastening it in the back. So, I left it hooked and stepped into it and didn’t mind doing that.
I’ve worn brassieres since then, through high school, college, and employment. I’ve worn bras that fastened in back, bras that fastened in front, and as an adult, I discovered sports bras that I could just slip over my head. Those were my favorites.
But in 2005, after I married my late husband Bill, he told me he didn’t want me to wear a bra. He said, “Let them see what they’re missing.” He was totally blind, by the way.
Since I’d quit working as a registered music therapist and started writing full time, I wasn’t out in public as much. So, I stopped wearing them, even after Bill passed in 2012. Except for the radiologist who told me to take off my shirt and bra before putting on the gown for my annual mammogram, nobody said anything, that is, until recently.
One night while I was practicing with my women’s singing group, one of the older ladies said to me, “Don’t you have a bra?”
“Yes,” I answered, not sure where this was going.
“Well, you really should wear a bra, especially when we perform.”
Knowing my vision was limited, she meant well, in her own strange way. But still, I was mortified. All I could think of to say was “Some of the shirts I wear have lower necklines, and the bra straps show.” This was true.
To which she replied, “Well, that would be better than…”
Others murmured their assent.
I didn’t know what to think. I’d been singing with these women for years. Why did this come out now? Did my breasts suddenly spring up?
Someone else pointed out that visible bra straps were stylish. Seriously? Well, maybe that was true now but not when I was younger.
Then, I remembered Leonore Dvorkin’s book, Another Chance at Life, in which she talks about winning her battle with breast cancer. What reason did I have to be on the verge of tears? At least my boobs and I were healthy. I pasted a smile on my face and kept on singing.
I’ve since consulted other women outside my choir, who have assured me they didn’t even know I wasn’t wearing a bra. So, I’ve come to this conclusion.
For a woman, wearing a bra is a matter of personal choice. It’s not as if she’s walking around with a bare chest or ass. I’m sixty years old, and whether or not I choose to wear a bra is nobody’s business but mine.
So, I’ll continue to follow my late husband’s advice. “Let them see what they’re missing.” I doubt they’re missing anything, but if they are, at least what they’re missing is healthy.
About the Author
Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of two novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. She is currently working on another novel. Her work has appeared in The Weekly Avocet, The Writer’s Grapevine, and other publications. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Visit her website http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com.