Style

Why women need different bras

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Image: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

At the tender age of eleven, I embarked on a journey that would help define my womanhood for years to come.

After reading a book about my “changing body,” I decided to purchase my first bra. Amid my mother’s lamentation about my rapid aging, we picked out my first training bra. As the years progressed, my bras became more stiff and structured until finally culminating in the Bombshell by Victoria’s Secret. This underwire monstrosity was guaranteed to add two cup sizes to my already large chest. I only wore it a few times before uncomfortable, lingering stares of strangers made me put it away for good. But creepy, middle-aged men starring at my sixteen-year-old breasts weren’t the only things that led me to dislike underwire push up bras. After a few years of having my size C breasts shoved up two inches higher than nature intended them to be, I began to have back pain and deep cuts in my shoulders. It wasn’t until college that I was properly educated on all the different ways I could squish, exploit, or hide my breasts. The discovery of thin, lacy bralettes and barely-there bandeaus was truly a gift from on high.

What Happens When You Go Braless?

People with breasts need different bras for different occasions, but what risks do we run when strapping our mammary glands into too-tight mini corsets? Most of us have been told about a correlation between tight-fitting bras and breast cancer, but it’s important to keep in mind that correlation does not always mean causation.

A fifteen-year study of French women found that those who chose to go braless for the majority of their lives actually saw a decrease in stretch mark visibility, a rise in nipple height, increased firmness, and were less likely to experience back pain. In the conclusion, Professor Rouillon admitted there is no “medical need” for bras, but some women definitely disagree. It is also important to remember that these were French women in the study. The average American woman is 5’4”, weighs 165 pounds, and wears a 34DD, which equals a BMI of 28 (over weight), while most French women have a BMI of 23 (healthy weight).

Having such large breasts can be problematic. Health reasons may be of concern but also, the likelihood of finding cute, comfortable bras above a DD in a store is next to zero. Which leads many women having to special order online, and you can guess how well that goes.

The Importance of Refitting

In his now-famous bra study, Professor Rouillon surmises that because women who wore bras were often wearing them too tight, it could cut off circulation and decrease collagen production since gravity was not able to act upon the breasts. This underlines the importance of visiting a store every six months in order to be refitted and make sure the bras you have are the ones needed.

Why Bras Need to be Cycled

Textile research has shown that wear and tear from repeated use can advance the aging process of the material, particularly spandex, and cause premature deterioration. In short, try not to wear the same bra two days in a row.

Upon first discovering this information and reading about how the spandex can grow “tired,” I thought about how absurd it sounded. But empirical research suggests that bras with elastic need a day of rest. This does not mean, however, that one should have a different bra for every day of the week. If you feel the need (or simply want) to wear a push up bra, then do so. Just make sure you have at least two to alternate each day at work. If you are able to wear a brassiere with a simpler structure, the same is also true.

Taking Care of Your Bras

In the name of sustainability, we also want to ensure our bras last a good while, so it is important to buy and use a lingerie bag. These keep underthings from getting pinched and pulled by the washing machine. It is also paramount to lay bras out to dry, unless otherwise specified.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your health and comfort come first. If you don’t feel the necessity to wear an underwire push up bra everyday, then don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. If they somehow give you more confidence, then by all means, push those lady lumps up there. But remember that variation between different types of bras coupled with alternating usage will help with your comfort and increase the longevity of your investment.