In Defense Of Not Freeing The Nipple

My 38K bra size is not “on trend.”

In "free the nipple movement news," I say no thank you.

To put it boldly, I’ve always had giant breasts. They developed early and with abandon. When I started wearing a bra in fourth grade, I was roundly mocked every time I had to change for gym class: “Ew, why do you have to wear one of those?”

One day I decided to forgo the social diktats: If no one else was wearing a bra, neither would I. I consulted exactly zero people on this decision — my mother might have knocked some sense into me — and confidently left for school braless. You can probably guess what came next. I only got through an hour of class before going to the nurse to call my mom, begging her to bring me a bra.

Fortunately, I haven’t internalized those mean girls’ disdain. I like my breasts, especially my nipples. They’re a chic beige that fades to purple — like if you mixed a bunch of Glossier Cloud Paints — and my areolas are elegantly oval-shaped. You, dear reader, would be lucky to experience them! But you’ll have to take my word for it. Because, I love wearing a bra, and I won’t let the fashion world tell me otherwise.

This year’s free the nipple trend was the defining fashion moment of red carpets and runways alike. Celebrities like Doja Cat, Olivia Wilde, and Kendall Jenner all took their nips for a spin in 2023, and it was one of the most dominant looks at Spring/Summer 2024 fashion shows. It’s fun and daring, but it is not for everyone — and it’s certainly not for me.

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For one thing, I understand celebrities like Florence Pugh can comfortably attend a Valentino couture show or televised award show in a totally sheer dress. But my community is, uh, a little different.

Take the local bar in my 26,000-person town — not exactly a nip-friendly environment. When I show up for trivia night, I’d be more comfortable answering nipple-adjacent questions, like who designed Madonna’s cone bra for the Blonde Ambition tour (Gaultier), than letting the girlies sneak a peek at what’s on tap.

And lest you think the trend is reserved merely for red carpets and catwalks, may I direct you to Miranda Priestly’s withering speech from The Devil Wears Prada, in which she expertly outlines how runway trends eventually trickle down into mainstream shopping trends. Exhibit A: Kim Kardashian just brought the look to us normies with Skims’ built-in nipple bra.

Courtesy of Skims

Secondly, and more importantly, I simply will not be freeing my nipples — real or faux — no matter how good it looks on a B-cup. I wear a size 38K bra, so freeing my nips, à la Julia Fox or Dua Lipa, would cause me physical pain, not to mention the emotional ramifications of showing them to the world.

My breasts are so heavy I need the support of a well-constructed bra that fits properly. Otherwise, simple activities like bending over or going down stairs can be painful. Though many consider wearing one restricting, a bra actually gives me more freedom.

“Leonardo da Vinci wishes he had conceived Elomi’s Matilda bra.”

For people with large breasts, a well-designed bra is a feat of engineering. (I consider my boobs women in STEM.) It provides comfort, freedom of movement, and relief from back pain. To reference The Devil Wears Prada again: “What they created is greater than art, because you live your life in it.”

Leonardo da Vinci wishes he had conceived Elomi’s Matilda bra, and Freya’s High-Octane is arguably more useful than anything Benjamin Franklin has given us. If Harper Wilde’s Bliss bralette had fallen on Isaac Newton, generations of lives would have been changed. (What’s the point of “discovering” gravity if you’re not going to help out heavy boobs?)

So no offense, Hailey Bieber & co., but I’m going to comfortably sit this trend out.