I was amazed today to stumble across the bra-free tribe here and to learn about the powerful link between bra wearing and breast cancer. Here's a link to an article about it:
I'm a 42H (before I became a mother, I was a 38 DD) and have worn bras since I was about 11. However, I have recently discovered how much more comfortable I am without a bra. I work from home and spend practically all of my time at home, so I've been going bra-free a lot for the last few months out of sheer hotness and laziness (we're without ac this summer).
Now that I've read this article I intend to go bra-free all the time at home, but I'm afraid I lack the courage to do so in public yet. I wish I were braver! As recently as last spring, I got some unwanted attention from a young man who noticed my breasts while I was out walking at the park, and I was wearing a bra so they definitely weren't bouncing around like they do when I'm braless, and I'm 48 so it's not like I'm this hot young chick or anything. So I'm afraid I'd just be too self-conscious without my bra in public -- but at least I spend most of my life at home now.
My 12yo started her period 7 months ago, and her breasts are definitely growing, and her figure looks to be developing along similar lines to mine. She did have a couple of bras that she wore occasionally several months ago, but she's outgrown them and hasn't really said anything about getting new ones. Now that I've learned what I've learned, I'm going to encourage her to stay bra-free as long as she feels comfortable doing so, and, if at any point she feels the need to wear a bra in public situations, I'm going to urge her to get into the habit of taking if off as soon as she walks in the door.
And I will, of course, be encouraging dd2 along the same lines.
We've been homeschooling, but dd1 really wants to enroll in school in order to have a wider range of social contacts. We've been letting her pursue her interests and learn things at her own pace, and she's not at the place where she's ready to enroll in 7th grade this fall. So we're spending this next year helping her get up to speed with the goal of having her enroll in the 8th grade in the fall of 2013.
So she will soon be spending about 7 or 8 hours, five days a week, away from home, in an environment where some boys are going to be looking at girls' breasts, and where a few might even make rude comments. And I imagine her breasts will be fairly good-sized and noticeable when she's 13. At the moment, they do have a definite shape and her nipples are really prominent, but she doesn't seem the least bit bothered by this, or self-conscious about it, and I think that's great.
How can we help our daughters make the right choices when it comes to their own breasts? I definitely wouldn't force her to go bra-free if it were damaging to her self-esteem, and I also worry about the negative attention she may attract if she stays bra-free as her breasts get larger. I fear that some men would see a well-developed girl going braless as a sign that she is looking for negative attention. No male has a right to behave disrespectfully toward any female, regardless of what she's wearing, but some men and boys are very disrespectful and I want to do everything I can to shield her from damaging and/or dangerous situations.
Yet I also really want her to do everything she can to reduce her risk of cancer. I imagine that's how all of us feel.