going braless

The reason why I didn’t want to do yet another hair post was because I am afraid of seeming kind of obsessed. I think a reader left a comment to this effect recently. I didn’t read the whole thing, because I could tell it would be mean, and I’m a wimp. Actually, I think it’s because I’m a wimp that I keep cutting my hair in stages. I wasn’t brave enough to do it all at once.

My dad accused me of being obsessed with my hair when I told him I wanted to buzz it. He was kind of joking, but kind of not joking.

There’s only so much support you can expect, when you’re a woman who keeps making her hair even shorter. My brothers used to get buzz cuts, and no one really even noticed. But I suddenly realized that my desire to have the shortest hair possible makes me a little radical. Which is not my intention. My intention is to have the shortest hair possible. Because I love it.

The shorter my hair is, the happier I feel about my appearance.

These days, I feel really, really happy about the way I look. And it’s made me want to do something else that’s a little radical: stop wearing a bra.

Not all the time. But when there’s a dress with thin straps and a dramatic back. Or just a tank top with thickish fabric.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my breasts. They’re fine. But I wear a padded bra, because I think it looks more…balanced. When I’m getting really critical towards my  body, I sometimes think things like, “It doesn’t make sense for them to be that size.” As though they are a biological failure. Something went wrong with my genes. I appreciate them when I’m jogging. In general, I ignore them. They aren’t significant enough to attract my attention. And they don’t do much for a shirt on their own.

There’s that line in the stupid old chant…. “It’s better, it’s better, it’s better for the sweater!” You know what I’m talking about?

My boobs are not better for the sweater. They are worse for the sweater.

Going braless and having a buzz cut don’t seem to go together. I went through that phase, when I first cut my hair, of compensating with makeup and heels (which aren’t always compensation but sometimes are). I was a little nervous about my femininity. Going braless was the last option.

I don’t know what changed. Maybe I got comfortable. But all of a sudden, I feel feminine anyway. Without makeup. Without the bra that makes me look curvier. I feel like wearing daring outfits. I feel like wearing big earrings and interesting tops with belts and skirts that don’t quite, but almost, match.

I feel sexy.

I know what the shape of my head is, for the first time. Which seems kind of surprising in a way. Maybe I’m a little less afraid of the shape of my breasts as a result.

I am not trying to make a statement at all.  But maybe I’m making a statement anyway. If I am, I hope this is the one I’m making:

It’s really fun to look the way you actually look.

I am having SO MUCH FUN. It’s catching me by surprise. My face in the bathroom mirror in the morning is fantastic. I find myself hoping it lasts, as though this is some sort of Cinderella phase, which will turn to rags and dust too soon. Before I am ready to stop dancing.

It’s probably better to dance a lot, right now, anyway. In general.

But my optimistic side thinks this might be forever. She is putting on a little, strappy dress. She has forgotten the bra again. And my other side has to come along, because, you know, they’re attached.

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love how hilariously easy it is to wash my hair.

P.S. It helps that a lot of women I see around my neighborhood have really, really short hair, too. Way to go, Brooklyn!



Kate on August 15th 2011 in beauty, being different, body

42 Responses to “going braless”

  1. dsquared responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    I was the one who questioned you about your hair journey…and I apologize if your skimming (of my post) left you with the impression that I was being mean…that was truly not my intent.
    When you get braver (:o), please go back and re-read it as if I was your best friend, using a caring (albiet quizzicle sp?) tone.
    Sorry for the hurt!

  2. Kate responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Aww, thanks for the clarification. That was cool of you!

  3. Tami responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    I read your blog because something about your journey to be HAPPY with yourself resonates with me.

    The hair posts sparkle with your delight, and I love them for that.

    Blog for you. If you want to blog about your hair every day, go for it as long as it makes you happy.

    De-lurking for the first time to give a bit of support.

    Unroast thumbs up. <3

  4. Raven responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    You look fabulous no matter what you choose to do, because you’re living according to what’s right for you.

    When I cut my hair to my shoulders last November, my boyfriend was stunned. When I asked him about it, he shrugged and said, “it will grow back,” but I don’t think he understands that I kinda like having my hair at my shoulders. I also liked having it down my back, too, but like you, I cut my hair in stages. I’d cut it to my shoulder blades a year ago in March.

    Now I’m spending as much time going braless as I can handle (they’re big, so unless I really push myself to do the upper body workouts, I don’t have the muscle support), and I’m worrying less about appearing masculine, too.

    It’s a weird feeling, because I’ve always been afraid of losing my femininity, of being seen as too manly, but as you said, the more I do what feels right to me, the more me I feel. And that has translated into an increase in positive attention from people I find appealing.

    So, don’t let any mean (or even only seemingly mean–see above) comments get you down about doing the right thing for you. Only you know what makes you feel good, and just because you didn’t buzz cut your hair on the first try, doesn’t mean you’ve done anything bad by getting there slowly. Little leaps of courage sometimes end up making big change in the long-run. <3

  5. Krystina responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    I think it’s awesome you have the courage to go all the way and buzz your hair off. So what if you are obsessed with your hair…or lack of hair… ;) It’s great. The money you must save on shampoo… I had my surgery in June to remove my brain tumor and I was not prepared for what my head was going to look like after the Dr took the bandages off. Ridiculous. My boss stiched up 85 bandanas. No lie. ( I need to find somone who makes quilts now! ) Thanks to you I have decided to go ahead and cut my mullett off. Although in KY there are guys who rock the “Ky waterfall”. LOL I am going to wait a couple more weeks to make sure my scar is covered and then I should also have enough hair to donate to Locks of Love. I’ll send ya some pics when I go for it. :) Thanks Kate.

  6. Kellie responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Kate, I do things spontaneously… I think that makes me a chicken. :-)
    Cause I wouldn’t do it any other way.. I’ve cut my hair four or five times in my entire life.. it would seem for every life change I’ve had.. graduation, divorce, health, hmmm I know there was at least one other time in there.. LOL oh well.. my hair is long, it was so long I could sit on it.. now it’s just down to my bum again. I keep thinking right now that I should cut it.. I’m hypothyroid and it is taking some time to balance out my medication and in the mean time different areas of my body are being attacked one of them is my hair, it keeps falling out by the hand, brush or wash….fulls… it feels horrible to see so much hair go in the compost. Sigh…. but the new hair grows in so fast now I have all these curly frizzy hairs.
    As for braless.. I do it when I’m home alone.. since and this is no joke.. my breasts after 20 years of them being part of me,(after two babies,which are no longer babies..) hang to my belly.. LOL so going braless in public sorry not for me, plus they just feel heavy without some support.
    You look beautiful, feel your beauty and enjoy it. Smile on the inside cause it makes us beam on the outside.

    Oh btw, I ♥ my eye lashes today.. they are so long and curly now, after having had the eye operations they were kind of weak and sick looking. I’m happy they are looking so much better now.
    Have a great week♥

  7. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Hooray for braless boobies! They are fun. If I could get away with it at work, I would. As for hair…I totally get the “stages.” I’m in my late 40′s and just this past year made the decision, very suddenly, to stop coloring my hair. What an annoying process! I love my salt and pepper and get more compliments on my hair now than I ever did. It is amazing to me sometimes just how far women (myself included at times) will go to NOT look like who they are…because, it’s…better? Maybe? Whatever!

  8. Jess responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    My breasts are a hair too large to go braless frequently (though they certainly don’t always look it, they feel it) but shortly after I started dating my gentleman, Kyle, I started ditching bras with padding. It IS really nice to look the way you actually look!!! And I am young and shapely enough (2 years ago under the padding, I never would have described them as “shapely enough” to ditch the bra on occasion as well. Under the right garments, just as you have said. And certainly when I do a quick bodega run, because who cares.
    Also, I think that having supershort hair and superfeminine trappings of makeup and heels etc isn’t so much about “making up” for not having something. I think its a great way to revel in the sweet juxtaposition. And it looks great! It involves effort, and should only be on the occasions where you want it for fun. Its good to hear you don’t feel like you “have to” anymore.
    I use quotes and parens a lot. Sorry. :)

  9. Catherine responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I’m a lurker around these parts, but I wanted to comment on the hair thing – I’m similarly obsessed about my self-cut short hair (not a buzz, though – I have a slightly funny head shape).

    I’d grown tired of my short hair a while ago, decided to grow it out to chin length, and wore that style for almost a year.

    Then, this May, I suddenly decided that I actually hated the way my hair brushed against my face and neck on hot days, so in a flash of inspiration, I chopped it off again.

    I looked at my face in the mirror, and suddenly felt that I’d finally met ME again after being away on holiday. I finally felt like the hero of my own stories again instead of a sidekick. I felt cool, and badass, and amazing (in the sense of your “not hot – amazing”-post, which I related to like nothing else).
    I don’t know what it is, and it feels a bit ridiculous to put so much stock in something as insignificant as hair, but short hair is fundamentally “me” and makes an incredible difference in how I look at myself.

    (Plus, I love the act of cutting my hair.)

  10. Sari responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Shower. Step out. Run hand over head to spray the water everywhere. Done! That was my favorite part.
    Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your head. (No, seriously.)
    By the way, you look gorgeous. :)

  11. Lauren responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I remember, when I first read about you cutting your hair, grabbing at my own hair like I was trying to protect it. I fully recognize that I hide behind it, because it covers some of my less flattering parts (one of my ears is larger than the other, my nose is, um, largish, and I have acne scars from cheek to chin). But looking at the pictures of you with your buzz cut, I have to admit, you look really, unbelievably pretty. Not in a “you’re so brave that you shed all your hair and are OWNING it” pretty (even though you are). Just, like, a pretty girl. Like, I’d see you in a bar and be jealous that you’re all Brooklyn and edgy and you can TOTALLY pull off short hair and I NEVER EVER could. And I’d sigh and be sulky about how I’ll never have the guts to chop off my hair like that because my nose is too big.

  12. Mme Wong responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    It took me until my 30s to muster-up the self confidence to go bra-less. I won’t do it everywhere, obviously (I’m one to think a bra in mandatory at work, and shoes too – ok, I’ve been going on bras-and-shoes rants lately, but I digress).

    I just love the freedom of it, especially in summer. And especially because none of my bras fit me properly anymore, so no bra suddenly seems so much better than gaping cups…

    I can’t wait for the weekend!

  13. Justine responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Good for you Kate! I just cut off all my hair too (well not a buzz cut, but above my shoulders). It’s very liberating and way easier to manage. I had so many people tell me not to cut it before I did, and that only made me want to cut it more! It makes me happy, and from your photos it makes you happy too. Sometimes change on the outside reflects a change from within, a haircut isn’t always just about aesthetics, but about the way you’re feeling—so it makes perfect sense to me to be “obsessed” with it. Write on!

  14. Brigid responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Please keep talking about your hair! I’m fascinated — by your short hair, by how you feel about it, by how reading about your hair makes me think about mine. Hair is very sensual. Changing it is a big deal. There’s no reason not to talk about that.

    And I, for one, love the short hair/big earrings/almost-matching look. I think it’s super sexy, with or without a bra.

  15. Kate responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    I appreciate this comment a lot.

  16. Kate responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I PROMISE you your nose is not too big. Seriously. Really seriously.
    I hid behind my hair for way too long because of the stuff you’re describing.

  17. Lauren - Better In Real Life responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Sigh. You kind of amaze me. In the “I can do better, go further” kind of way. Carry on.

  18. Sooz responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    In honor of this post, i JUST took my bra off. :)

    question: What do you do to be comfortable? I don’t like the way my droopy boobs stick to my skin so I always wear a bra. Any suggestions?

  19. Willoe responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    I buzzed my hair last December, and it was one of the most exhilarating, fun things I’ve ever done. I’m letting it grow into it’s wild, afro self now, but I loved being able to see the whole shape of my head and face.
    I go braless on occasion, but usually only if I’m wearing a tight fitting top. I love cleavage, and my boobs are way to small to have any on their own hehe

    Thanks for sharing, I love to hear about people doing new things and being excited about it! And the cut looks awesome on you :)

  20. bethany actually responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    You look so impishly pleased with yourself and your buzz cut. :-) It makes me happy!

  21. Jenny responded on 15 Aug 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Just today I saw a girl at a coffee shop who was VERY obviously not wearing a bra, and I was mostly noticing how comfortable and unapologetic she looked. It was a central NJ strip-mall Panera full of moms and grandparents, and there she was bra-less in a breezy white tank top with huge armholes, beautifully rocking some side-boob. I think she had some little sticky covers on her nipples, which in a way I suppose makes it less bold, but also makes it seem sort of admirably deliberate. You and she have me thinking about giving it a try…

  22. Nancy responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 12:04 am #

    I’m a lurker here but I have to comment. I absolutely love the way you look with your hair buzzed! So cute! And I have almost not existent boobs, so I totally get the bra comments. I just wish that my boobs stuck out further than my baby belly! hmmm, maybe one of these days…

  23. Jenny responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 2:14 am #

    A few years ago I grew my hair longer and managed to get it to just about shoulder length. One day I was wandering around the shops in our town when I had the urge to get it cut, not just a trim but cut it all off. I duely popped into a hairdressers, waiting my turn and then sat down in the chair.
    The hairdresser asked me what I wanted and I told her to cut it all off. She looked at me and asked me if I was sure, I told her yes.
    She dug out the electric clippers and attacked my main. I sat there happily watching my locks fall away. As she was working she said to me “this is actually quite satisfying and fun”.
    I got quite a few comments from people at work about it, mainly about why I hadn’t had it cut like that for charity. Doh, it was spur of the moment and I’d not been thinking, if I had been I’d probably have not had the bottle to do it.

    If your hair style makes you happy then that’s what is important.

  24. Claire Allison responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 2:27 am #

    Have you had the baby experience yet? My sister had that one for years when she was bald (not quite with a bic, but certainly not a buzz cut). Babies know so early that it’s out of the ordinary that when they saw her on the subway they’d stare, mouth open, in wide eyed amazement. They knew she was female- she’s got a largeish bust and curves to spare, and yet they knew she was odd. Isn’t it fascinating how early they learn these things? Food for thought- keep your eyes out for it.

  25. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 7:27 am #

    Kate, I’m just checking back in to let you know that there are still a lot of people searching for “Jewish big nose” and finding your post on my site. Brilliant:) I think we should storm the search engines for cropped, braless and don’t give a toss next. I am happy to go braless but I need my hair to hide the wrinkles!

  26. Jess responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 11:50 am #

    @Sooz: I get the sweaty underboob a lot, esp. in summer, so I do either the tank tops w/ shelf bras or “bralettes”, which is basically the same thing without the tank top. Little bit of fabric to keep things in place for comfort, but no underwire look or feel. I sleep in mine sometimes. Light airy and frequently sheer. Almost braless.

  27. Liz responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Hi Kate,

    I thought of you this morning as I published my post titled, “What Kind of Pretty Are You?” You have to view the video!!!! It’s amazing. We should all get together and make our own personalized youtube videos and start a vlog. ;)


  28. Kate responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    It’s not uncomfortable for me, since my breasts are really small. I’m glad Jess answered, I was feeling sad about not being able to be helpful!

  29. Kate responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 1:02 pm #


  30. Kate responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    @Claire Allison
    I really, really hope that happens to me. I will feel very special if it does.

  31. Kate responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    I actually know this video! People have also sent it to me through the blog :) Amazing stuff. And I’m always happy to get in on one of your ideas. They’re always good.

  32. Liz responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Thanks, Kate. I’m thinking through a few ideas so I’ll keep you posted! One big idea I’m seriously considering includes exploring several generations of women.

  33. San D responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    After having been part of the generation of bra burners my generation now has the problem where our “headlights” are pointing down, and the “ladies” aren’t as perky as they used to be, nor, in my case are they the same size as they used to be. So, my compromise? I wear a light sports bra. Comfortable, supportive, and keeps the “ladies” from swaying in that Carol Burnett comedy sketch kinda way. Oh yeah, and because I was a teacher in a high school, the word “breasts” means Purdue chicken. It will be awhile before my vocabulary will return to normal. LOL

  34. Sooz responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    @Jess Thanks! p.s. What’s a bralette?

  35. Sooz responded on 16 Aug 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    @Jess Sorry. I meant to ask: Where does one get a “bralette”? Or does it only come with those tank tops that have the built in bra?

  36. Erin responded on 17 Aug 2011 at 9:16 am #

    I love this. I love your writing, but I’m lame and never comment. I always wanted to go bra-less and never had the guts to do it in public, because mine are rather large. One night (for reasons I probably shouldn’t put on the internet) I went out bra-less in my favorite blue flowy tank, and it was so very freeing. I felt so brazen. I still don’t do it a ton, but I feel comfortable doing it now. I haven’t done it in a while though, and this reminds me that I should.

  37. Jess responded on 17 Aug 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Regular old department stores have em. The one I have that I’m thinking of was from JCPenney I believe.

  38. Eat the Damn Cake » Total, obvious fail: a happy story responded on 17 Aug 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    [...] one nipple (OK, the last one is hard to understand. I was not painting naked. But maybe it was the bralessness that did [...]

  39. Sooz responded on 17 Aug 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    @Jess Thanks!

  40. Quin responded on 18 Aug 2011 at 3:13 am #

    Ha, started reading this blog about a week ago and now I’m on my third comment? Sorry to flood you with comment chatter!

    When I checked your blog today and saw a post mentioning homeschooling I was so excited, and then I scrolled down and saw one about going braless, and I was a little freaked out. Not because I think it’s weird, but because I’m starting to think you’re reading my mind (not really–no need to panic).

    I’ve been thinking about my bra-wearing habits a lot lately, and I’ve decided to try to go without more. I didn’t even bother with bras until I was about 16, and my breasts really haven’t gotten much bigger, so I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant to try it out again. I’ve started small with things like going to my best friend’s house (he really doesn’t care about what I do or don’t wear, so why should I?) and short trips to the store. It’s so nice!

    Thanks for reading my mind and posting about the things that keep my brain occupied!

  41. Eat the Damn Cake » The utter despair of shopping at Macy’s responded on 23 Oct 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    [...] We laughed a lot, but it’s true. My silk buttondown blouses look like they’re about to burst open. I feel like I’ve just gone through puberty, now that I’ve gained weight and learned to wear a heavily padded bra. [...]

  42. Eat the Damn Cake » the pregnant boobs post responded on 13 May 2013 at 10:21 am #

    [...] interesting (if you’re interested in stories about other people’s boobs, or lack thereof) that I didn’t develop some sort of complex, based on all of this. I attribute the fact that I didn’t almost entirely to my big nose, and how much of my body image [...]