We’ve all been there. You walk through the door at the end of a long day, toss your purse on the counter and slip off your shoes. What do you do next? Lose the bra? Of course you do! That sucker has been digging into your ribs and shoulders since 8:00 am and it is DONE. Have you ever thought about just going braless? Or does the mere thought of such an act of rebellion bring to mind hippies and Woodstock?
Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves why we feel that a free-hanging breast under our shirt is anything less than natural. A quick Wikipedia search yields large-scale bra production was not developed until the 1930’s(1).
So, bras are relatively new through the eyes of society’s big picture. However, women have been binding themselves long before bras were an everyday annoyance. Corsets and girdles have been causing women discomfort for AGES. Historians have linked linen cloth with fashioned cups found in Austria to the mid-1400’s (1). This has been going on for a while.
It is not difficult to see why women feel the need to wear a bra even though it can be constricting, painful, hot and downright uncomfortable. Society has been telling women for centuries the natural female form is not acceptable unless squeezed and pushed to unnatural shapes.
What has all this constricting, compressing and general boob-torment done to our bodies? To our health? Do our breasts benefit from such a garment that causes many women daily pain? Many experts say that the bra we all have in our closets and underwear drawers does our breasts no favors.
In fact, Dr. Claire Heigh stated that, “Bras cause breasts to sag because chest muscles work less when breasts are supported and confined in a bra. Over time, these muscles and ligaments can atrophy because of a lack of use. When the chest muscles and ligaments have to bear the weight of the breasts, muscle tone returns” (3).
Even more alarming is the correlation that some researchers believe exists between bras and breast cancer. The first study of its kind conducted by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer in their book entitled, Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, found that, “Overall, women who wore their bras 24 hours per day increased their breast cancer risk by 125 times over women who never wore a bra” (3).
Singer and Grismaijer also found that, “The nature of the bra, the tightness, and the length of time worn, will all influence the degree of blockage of lymphatic drainage. Thus, wearing a bra might contribute to the development of breast cancer as a result of cutting off lymphatic drainage, so that toxic chemicals are trapped in the breast (3).
So why are we putting our breasts through this, ladies? Let us toss the bras into the sack destined for Goodwill, toss on our favorite tee and out the door we go! But wait, my V-neck short-sleeve tee from The Gap is sagging in odd places. My bra filled out these areas. We are so used to the fit of our clothing depending upon the shape and lay of our breasts while wearing a bra. My mother bought me my first training bra at age 10.
It had no shape of course, but was a foundation of things to come. We are taught early on that girls wear bras, especially when that first mound of breast tissues starts to appear as early as elementary school.
Sports bras become common place at this age, and while the modesty aspect for girls who play sports is certainly understandable, are we pressing the bra issue a bit too young? With puberty coming at an earlier age than ever before, bras are “needed” sooner and are marketed as such.
Daughters beg and mothers buy, not realizing the perpetual pain they are causing. For a mother with a daughter who has blossomed early and thoroughly, she may see the need for a bra as a comfort to her daughter.
However, there is no evidence that large-busted women benefit from a bra any more than their smaller chested sisters. In fact, in an article entitled, “Scientists Have Just Told Women To STOP Wearing Bras, Here’s Why”, Dr. Stafford Broumand says, “For younger women, not wearing a bra will lead to increased collagen production and elasticity, which improves lift in a developing breast.” (4)
Society’s expectations will certainly not change overnight in the workplace or your daughter’s middle school, but the health advantages outweigh the words that are said in whispered tones to a colleague or schoolmate.
Bras can be a cruel and unusual punishment for most of our lives, but only if we allow them to be.
If you stop wearing a bra, you may have temporary breast discomfort. Some women who throw their bras away find that they have increased breast pain for a few days. This is most common among women with larger breasts. Use bras without under wires and straps first, give your breasts time to adjust to being bra free.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the (others) author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of StickeeBra, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never not be relied upon for specific medical advice.