At the end of a news article there was a bank of those tabloid ad links about "15 Botched Butt Implants," or "The Hottest Iowans Under 50," or etc.
One caught my attention, though: celebrities sans bra. That's odd -- the dominant trend among women these days is to make sure that no one sees your nipples when you're out and about. Virtually all bras are now made with a thin layer of foam padding so that it will absorb the protrusion of the nipple, producing a uniformly smooth and rounded look if she's wearing a close-fitting top.
It turns out that most of these women are Generation X, and have probably been sporting the look on-and-off since adolescence. We have the lowest rates of OCD, so it wouldn't disturb them to go jet out with their set out. Here is only a handful:
After looking through several other sleazy lists of bra-free celebs, it seems like the look is most popular with those born in the late '70s and the early '80s. These are the people who have boxes of "embarrassing baby pictures" of them running around stark naked as children, something that's been reversed in the age of helicopter parenting. Having grown up half-naked in the '80s, leaving the house without a bra on doesn't seem so life-threatening.
There were some girls born in the second half of the '80s or '90s who aped the style, but it was typically the most calculatedly scandalous ones, like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, or Miley Cyrus. It didn't come from a free-spirited nature, but from a desperate grab for more, more attention. The only one who seemed to be carefree about it was Selena Gomez (who sadly exudes no sex appeal).
Is that what it's come to these days? That young women feel transgressive thrills from allowing a tiny patch of pubic hair to grow, or wearing a t-shirt with no bra? Who knows, if your parents sheltered you as much as theirs did, you too might respond to simple freedoms as though they were a prison break.
I also noticed some fairly strong differences by ethnic background, with a lack of Nordic, Slavic, or Asian women among the cup-cutters. Mediterraneans made a good showing -- Alyssa Milano, Christina Ricci, Jennifer Aniston, and Cameron Diaz. But by far it was the Celtic women who preferred to set their spirit and their body free. Liz Hurley, Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Cole, etc. Also those Americans who either come from that background themselves or have lived close enough to it for the free-going lifestyle to rub off on them, primarily in the South -- Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, AnnaLynne McCord, etc. Part of the broader pattern of unabashed sexuality among Southern girls.