OPINION | Are you itching to ditch the bra? You're not alone

Are you itching to ditch the bra? You're not alone

Look, I'm going to talk about a sensitive issue that will make some readers uncomfortable.

Blokes who get embarrassed by girl talk, look away now.

Also, people offended by discussion of underwear - you know who you are.

The other group who may not want to read this are those women who are blessed with larger fronts than most, and who need structural support to keep the back aches at bay and themselves upright. You have my sincere sympathies, but you will feel quite left out if you read on.

If you're still with me, we're now free to dive into the topic of the day - bras.

Specifically, the not-wearing-of.

Now, I'm a Respectable Lady, so you can be sure none of this applies to me, but I've heard it said that these times of isolation have produced an outbreak of bralessness among the more relaxed types.

It's common knowledge that the first thing the average woman discards when she walks in the house at the end of the day is her bra. A quick unclip through the back of the top, a reach and pull under each sleeve and - whip - out it comes.

That's because bras are horrible. No one wants to wear one when they don't have to, so at home - away from the censorious eyes of society - women tend to ditch them.

Hence the no bra-movement as a result of the coronavirus-forced isolation. If we don't have to go anywhere, who can blame women for not putting on the old over-shoulder-boulder-holder? No one will notice.

But now that iso has lasted months rather than just weeks, bralessness has become normalised for a lot of women who would never have gone more than the odd day without one. And what has occurred as a result?

Nothing.

Their chests haven't sagged out of all proportion (science backs me up here). They haven't turned into legume-eating hippies (unless that's what they were to start with, and more power to them). Passing men haven't been overcome with lust at the sight of movement under their jumpers (at least, not that I've heard about).

Everything's gone on pretty much as normal, which makes you wonder why we felt like we had to wear one every day of that previously 'normal' life.

It may surprise you to know that bras have not always been standard clothing for the half of the population who have breasts. Nor are they still, outside of the West. (In many cultures, the women just wrap a stretch of fabric over their shirt for modesty when they go out.)

The modern bra has only been around for about 100 years, and it evolved as a mercifully more comfortable version of the horrendous corsets that preceded it.

Corsets themselves came about in the 16th century, as a way for wealthy women to fashion their bodies into the alluring cone-shape that was popular at the time.

Much like Chinese foot-binding, the history of squishing our boobs into whichever shape fashion dictates is part of a broader attempt to control and display women's bodies for the eyes of men. Although, it has to be said, women partake in and enforce these codes fervently.

Now, just because bras are more comfortable than a whalebone construction that contorted your torso (until you couldn't walk faster than a dawdle without fainting), that doesn't make them bliss to wear.

Underwire in particular earned my contempt long ago. Before styles changed, quite recently, I used to attack my brand new bras with nail scissors to dig out the wires.

You can now buy bras without underwire everywhere these days. I like to think of myself as a trendsetter.

There's definitely a move towards more relaxed bra styles. As one of my regular Facebook ads reminds me (every few seconds), bra design hasn't changed much since my mother's day and the time is right for re-thinking.

Well, what a lot of us are thinking is that the days of compulsory bra wearing are over. Sure, pop one on for exercise or whatever, but all day, every day?

I don't think we actually have to start building a bonfire, but if I were a bra manufacturer, I'd be looking to diversify.