by Emma Stydahar

The other day, I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, and I happened upon a status update that stood in stark contrast from the usual fare of Feministing articles and Malala Yousafzai memes. A young man I know so eloquently shared this with the world: “what the fck is good with girls not wearing bras? #disgusting”

Sigh. What’s the problem with girls not wearing bras, you ask? How about ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. What the fck is good with people policing how women chose to dress their own bodies? That’s the real problem here.

My Facebook friend who wrote this status is enforcing the idea that there is a specific way to be a “proper lady.” This ideal, in part, rejects women who embrace their sexualities or bodies in any way. “Proper ladies” restrain their “sexy parts” from bouncing all over the place. In other words, by not wearing bras, women are displaying themselves as sexual beings, which is #disgusting!

This is pretty ridiculous, because, contrary to popular belief, breasts aren’t even sex organs. Their anatomical function is to feed babies. So not only is this dude imposing an archaic and unfair standard which dictates to girls a narrow, “correct” way for us be in the world, he’s also sexualizing our bodies.

Personally, most of the time, I don’t like wear a bra, so I choose not to. For me, bras are unnecessary and uncomfortable, but my choice comes with consequences. One day my senior year of high school, my friend and I were preforming Nicki Minaj’s Roman’s Revenge at this karaoke event my high school puts on every year. I wasn’t wearing a bra, and I was jumping all over the place, attempting to channel my inner Roman, when my shirt slipped thus exposing my nip. I was horrified. As I exited the auditorium, I happened upon my friend Jake. He had been planning to ask a girl to be his prom date by writing “PROM?” on his chest with a marker, and there he was in the lobby of our school getting assistance from a faculty member who was filling in the dot of the question mark on his nipple. Which is great for Jake! What made me so angry about that situation was that I had to feel embarrassed and ashamed, where no one thought twice that Jake’s nipple was visible.

That, my friends, is what I call inequity. I’m not at all saying I want to walk around with my nipples out all day. I’m saying that the right to do so (for the most part) is given to guys, while women who don’t wear bras or expose their breast in public are not seen as respectable or appropriate.

Over and over (and over) again, our personal agency as women is stripped from us, especially when it comes to making personal choices about our own bodies. And this robbery doesn’t only come from unjust laws churned out of our state legislators. It also comes from our peers, families and friends, from our schools, places of worship, communities and Facebook newsfeeds alike. From all sides, the “right” way to live in our bodies is dictated to us. As a woman, sometimes disregarding these rules means getting your feelings hurt, getting teased or looked down upon. Sometimes your safety is threatened when you step outside of the norm.

Instead of looking to girls to “act the right way” we as a society need to analyze where these concepts of “rightness” come from and why we find in necessary to hold onto them so dearly. Most importantly, we need to give the right of choice back to our girls. I want a world where girls can choose to whether or not bras are for themselves. I want a world where she doesn’t have to validate or explain her reasoning for this choice. I especially want a world where that choice isn’t seen as reflecting upon her morals, politics, or what “type” of woman she is.