One positive I have found from the stay-at-home order is the opportunity to go braless! It is my favorite, easy pleasure to come home at the end of the day and take off my bra. The release of pressure, the sense of freedom, and the easing of containment. I’m lucky my girls are of moderate size and manageable. My bras don’t have to have metal underwires; they do, however, need to provide enough coverage for “polite” society so as not to elicit gasps as nipples react to cold breezes or breasts swing a little too freely while strutting down the street.
But with a pandemic forcing me behind a desk and clients only seeing my head and neck, I can be braless. The breasts can rest comfortably where they land — slightly to the sides and, with age, a little lower — and I no longer celebrate the removal of the bra with a sigh and a flourish. The pleasure is found in all-day freedom! I’ve heard that pantless is a thing for other folks who are on video calls for work instead of in an office. I don’t know if pantless can compare to braless...
In a previous life, I worked in the lingerie department of a big box store and my favorite part of the job was matching folks with a great fitting bra. I talked with lots of people who were frustrated with ill-fitting bras but had never been properly fitted. I also encountered folks who did not want me, a total stranger, to join them in the fitting room for a measurement. Happily, times have changed when it comes to fitting and buying bras. Breast owners can find the best fit from home and order bras that not only look good but feel good too.
Going braless is not an option for all breasts, however, painful containment is not a requirement anymore. It’s not that breasts want to be contained, it’s that they need support because flopping about doesn’t feel all that great AND society is a bit puritanical about nipples — #FreeTheNipple — and free-swinging breasts. So I understand why breast owners continue to wrap up the ladies in lace, cups, underwires, and padded straps.
In between teaching kindergarten to my kiddo and pivoting my business to online-only, I glanced around the interwebs for the best of the best online bra companies. True & Co, Third Love, and Impish Lee caught my eye. FYI - none of these companies are paying me and I’m not getting a free bra out of this.
True & Co and Third Love use a similar fitting system. It’s a series of questions about how your current bra fits and how your breasts look and act (revolutionary!). They use your answers to tell you what size bra you need to purchase. The questionnaire takes about 5 minutes to complete and both companies provide you with your size and suggested bras from their store. True & Co has moved more into bralettes and seamless support. Third Love has a wider range of materials and they offer half-sizes. I think either company is a feel-good purchase and will come down to personal preference so check them both before hitting the check out button.
Impish Lee provides instructions with pictures and a video on how to get your measurements. Impish Lee is a custom design shop, meaning you give them your details up to and including the materials you want to be used on your bra and they make it for you. I love this innovative, personal take on lingerie and appreciate that the design power is in the buyer’s hands. This also means you’ll be paying more than $100 for one bra. Your breasts are worth it!
All three of these companies are body positive spaces and celebrate the reality that all bodies are built differently. You can also use their fitting tools and Impish Lee’s greatly detailed measurements to learn more about what your true bra size is. With this knowledge, you can spend your hard-earned money on buying bras locally in the size that best fits you.
So while you may not be looking to buy a new bra right now, when you are ready you now have more knowledge and resources to find a bra that fits just right. Or you can embrace frolicking braless and give polite society the pointed nipple!
The inverse to braless joy is the pain, literally, in the uterus. Sure menstruation is the mostly monthly reminder of a female’s true power. Except menstrual products are taxed, made with terrible chemicals, and females are not taught to embrace their power but rather to be ashamed of it. Also, menstruating can fucking hurt. Some cramps are comparable to stage 2 contractions during birthing!
Ideally, I am promoting the importance of connecting emotionally and spiritually with the mostly monthly power of menstruation and in reality, I’m going to talk about some more kick-ass, online companies supporting female bodies!
First up is Lunapads, a Canadian company (of course), who has been working to provide environmentally- and body-friendly menstrual products for decades. They’ve recently rebranded as Aisle and I cannot rave about their business and products highly enough. Their use of body inclusive models, alone, is a bright spot in the be-skinny-and-look-sexy-while-bleeding industry.
If you are not ready to dive into reusable, cotton menstrual underwear/pads and you swear by tampons then this next company is your go-to. Lola is a newer company but really good at what they do - a subscription service for organic cotton tampons. You get to pick and choose the sizes you need and how often you need them delivered to your door! This is a money-saving awesome option for folks who live in rural areas or places where there isn’t an alternative grocery store that stocks organic, cotton tampons. They also make pads, products for cramps, and products for sex. I recommend adding the cleansing wipes from Lola’s sex collection to your camping kit.
These are my top recommendations for menstrual products and, happily, this is a growing market so there are other companies you can fall in love with. I’m also not receiving anything for praising Aisle or Lola - only my self-satisfaction that I’m introducing folks to incredible, do-good companies.
During my downtime (ha!) I am re-reading Cunt by Inga Muscio and today of all days, I reread the chapter on menstruation, titled Blood and Cunts. If you have not read Cunt, drop what you are doing and order a copy now. This is the juiciest and feisty feminist literature I have read to date. Inga has zero fucks to give and it feels good to read words on the page about industries that only want my money and not my health. It feels so good to read lines like, “It takes time, focus and energy to realize the enormity of being the ocean with your very own tide every month.” It feels good to remember that I found Lunapads because I read Cunt two decades ago.
So today my column is scattered and a little snarky in its rambling thoughts. Rather than polish it to a high shine, I give you this part of myself. The messy, scattered, irreverent self who is only trying to make it to tomorrow, next week, next month without losing too much or too many people along the way.
Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com