Was Shea Allen fired for going braless?

Dismissed ... Shea Allen on 'Inside Edition'.

Dismissed ... Shea Allen on 'Inside Edition'. Photo: via Youtube

When US local TV reporter, Shea Allen, posted on her personal blog an entry titled ‘Confessions of a red-headed reporter’, she probably didn’t expect it would end with her unemployed and at the centre of a media firestorm. In the post Allen listed a lot of rather disturbing revelations such as “I'm frightened of old people and I refuse to do stories involving them or the places they reside” and “If you ramble and I deem you unnecessary for my story, I'll stop recording but let you think otherwise”, but far and away the ‘confession’ that garnered the most column inches was “I've gone braless during a live broadcast and no one was the wiser”.

This one admission means she’ll probably be nicknamed ‘The Braless Reporter’ for the rest of her days and has led to salacious media headlines like Glamorous TV reporter Shea Allen fired after posting ‘tell-all’ blog about going braless on air, TV reporter goes braless, gets fired, and  Fired braless reporter Shea Allen: She was ‘a ticking time bomb’. (And just to be clear it’s not yet been confirmed by Allen’s employer, WAAY-TV in Alabama, as to what the exact reason for the dismissal was – Gawker has reported there were other issues during her employment, though on Twitter Allen stated she had been “‘terminated without cause’ for said post”.)

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I’d like to believe that people would be more upset by Allen’s statements about not wanting to report on anything to do with ‘old people’ and the stale air of ‘Gross, oldies!’ pervading that comment. But sadly I’m not really surprised that all the focus is on her breasts and the shockingly controversial news that women sometimes don’t wear bras. Imagine it, the women around you could be beneath their clothes parading the bothersome jiggliness of their unbound bosoms – clutch those pearls with the horror of it all!

So is going to work without a bra unprofessional? This seems to me to be the sartorial equivalent of the ongoing discussion over whether going to work without make-up is not professional or if curly hair is a corporate no-no. Allen’s bralessness wasn’t unprofessional because it wasn’t even noticed, so how could it have made her colleagues or viewers uncomfortable? I’ve had co-workers in the past mention to me that they often go bra-free to work or on weekends and I was always surprised because I’d never even noticed it.

At its core it’s a question of, “Are women’s bodies, faces and hair as they are when unadorned intrinsically unprofessional?” These sorts of corporate rules are just a way of forcing women to walk an extremely thin line between being conventionally feminine (wear skirts and dresses, not pants!) but without doing anything that could be construed as sexual (but don’t even allow a hint of nipple to be visible!) Basically if you can achieve a sexless Barbie doll femininity, then according to corporate work wear guidelines you’re doing it right. It’s somewhat annoying that men don’t seem to be bound by anywhere near the same level of scrutiny on the job as to what they are doing underneath their clothes or to their hair and face.

I dislike bras for a lot of reasons. I hate how I feel like I’m in a Hong Kong action film all bound up for a wire scene. I hate how all strapless bras come with copious amounts of padding as they just assume of course you are aspiring to buxomness. I hate how you practically have to take out a personal loan to afford even a mid-range brassiere. I hate how you need to have eight different ones – Racerback! Strapless! Push-up! Halter! – just to put on a poorly designed singlet come summertime.  But mainly I simply hate how uncomfortable they are. (And before you spout some oft-repeated quote from a study probably paid for by a bra company about how 85 per cent of women are wearing ill-fitting bras, I’d ask you why if I was comfortable without it I should go hunting for this supposed holy grail of bra-dom that I’ve never found in all my years of lingerie wearing. Oh, that’s right, because the sight of nipples under clothes is considered socially unacceptable.) Many women do find bras more comfortable, but many women find them to be the undergarments of the devil – so why is it such a big deal if they cast them aside if that is the case?

The saddest part of it all is that Allen has felt the need to issue a public explanation for her heinous crime of bralessness, justifying it with the Janet Jackson endorsed excuse of wardrobe malfunction. And much like with Jackson’s Nipplegate it seems we are no closer to an era where women’s bodies are allowed to just be without being critiqued, censored or sensationalised.

 

 

57 comments

  • I think it was very clearly stated that she was fired for other reasons. Most people frankly don't care if she had a bra or not, unless you're a 12 year old boy or never really gotten past puberty.

    Commenter
    Knee Jerk
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 01, 2013, 8:35AM
    • I wouldn't bet on it.

      The way the Yanks are, even if the station didn't actually care about her admitting to going braless, they're conscious of the potential for a wowser backlash.

      Could you imagine Samantha Armytage posting on her personal blog that she didn't wear a bra while on set - even if they personally gave zero proverbials, it would take a brave television executive (an oxymoron if there ever was) prepared to back her when the media got wind of it 4 seconds later and started soliciting random idiots with opinions for their thoughts on this controversial notion of a braless female presenter.

      The lowest common denominator always wins in the media, because making controversy where barely none exists = ratings = dollars.

      Commenter
      Christian
      Date and time
      August 01, 2013, 6:20PM
  • Beat up if there ever was, attempting to push an agenda...

    Commenter
    Sam
    Date and time
    August 01, 2013, 8:47AM
    • To be honest, I didn't even register the comment about the bra. I assumed that she was fired for her comments about refusing to work with old people. It's disappointing to me that going without a bra is what people are focusing on.

      Regarding wearing or not wearing a bra I wish it was a personal choice but nipples and jiggles are considered both unprofessional and "too sexual" so I doubt many women will go without any time soon. Personally I find it uncomfortable to draw attention to my chest that way.

      Commenter
      TK
      Date and time
      August 01, 2013, 8:50AM
      • It's really sad that bra-lessness is such a crime. Next there'll be confessions for the brand of underwear being worn. Hang on, that's already happening...

        How awesome would it be to live in a world where the body is applauded as it is, not obsessed about.

        I appreciate the reporting on such an absurdity - thank you. However, the paradox is that reporting on how "bra-lessness" was considered wrong and has had unfortunate consequences, actually fuels ongoing critique of women's bodies.

        Attitudes are shaped. For each report of "not being allowed to be", I'd like to see at least a handful more reports of "supported to be." Maybe then we might start shifting to a healthier view—that is, if we together have an interest in such a thing.

        Commenter
        Big Phil
        Date and time
        August 01, 2013, 8:52AM
        • Time to get the matches out, ladies.

          Commenter
          Sue Denim
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          August 01, 2013, 8:52AM
          • Nothing wrong with going braless at work. I'd say it's more unprofessional to have parts of a bra exposed due to ill-fitting clothing. And bras won't always stop the outline of nipples showing anyway, especially if you're cold.

            "I hate how all strapless bras come with copious amounts of padding as they just assume of course you are aspiring to buxomness."

            I have small boobs and I like them that way, but apparently I am supposed to hate them and be desperate to have bigger breasts, if the dismal selection of unpadded bras in my size (out of every lingerie brand I can find, about 4 total) is anything to go by. Funny how the clothing industry can tell you how inadequate/abnormal your body apparently is without even saying a word, just by denying you choice.
            On the rare occasion that I find an unpadded bra in my size, it would be nice to buy multiples but given that the cheapest ones I have found so far are $80 each, by the time I have enough money to buy another one that style/size has usually been discontinued. And even if I do find one that is my size, that doesn't mean it will fit properly. Maybe braless is the way to go.

            Commenter
            Ames
            Date and time
            August 01, 2013, 9:04AM
            • agreed- taking my 11 yo daughter shopping for a bra the other days I could only find padded models in her small size. Why would I want to put an 11 yo in a padded bra when half her classmates are completely flat chested?

              Commenter
              Jules
              Date and time
              August 02, 2013, 7:11AM
          • Whoa trying to blame the sexist game again.... zzzz...

            Men are restricted to a much tighter wardrobe.

            When guidelines are released because the females keep breaking them, the female guidelines has 4 times more options than the men... yet they still keep breaking them.

            Open toed shoes, shorts, night club dressing...

            Get a grip

            Commenter
            cecil
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            August 01, 2013, 9:07AM
            • The American moral compass is seriously broken; How can a fully dressed woman even start to be deemed offensive but at the same time it's completely acceptable to show people being injured and killed as entertainment.

              Commenter
              M
              Date and time
              August 01, 2013, 9:14AM

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