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A bad week for bras

April 16, 2013

"Gosh, yours look perky!" "Not so bad yourself, told you we didn't need a bra after all!"

“Gosh, yours look perky!” “Told you we didn’t need a bra” [Credit: Matthew Kenwrick, Flickr CC]

If there’s one thing that having larger-than-average bosoms assures, it’s an interest, however fleeting, in the need for a good bra.

A good one should, at the very least, lift and secure. If it also happens to feel silky and nice and smooth and comes in a range of joyful, luscious or useful colours (such as polka dot, deep red or nude, for instance), then all the better.

Basically, I reckon a bra should be comfortable (or as comfortable as something endowed with wires and tight straps can be), stay in place, lie flat against the ribcage and not rub, bulge or pinch. (See this handy guide).

The holy grail of boulder-holders will do all these things, as well as sit in exactly the right point around the torso to optimise the back-fat-versus-cup-support correlation, where the strap will support out front at the same time as giving a smooth line out back (I’m only half-kidding, seriously. Nobody likes back fat, least of all me.)

Alas, my bras don’t always meet all the above conditions (damn your non-student budget-friendly brassieres, Bravissimo!) but I do know that the day I bought a bra that actually properly fit felt like a revelation. I suddenly had three more inches of torso! And a waist! And my shoulders stopped hurting so much! And my boobs had shape! And stayed put! Incredible, I promise you.

And as someone who has worn a bra pretty much 16 hours a day, if not more, since the age of 11 (although those first ones, were, looking back, not entirely necessary) I consider these truths to be self-evident.

But I am apparently mistaken! My hitherto reliable, fabulous, random, totally odd apparatus is under threat. This week, a French study suggested that bras have no effect on boobs. A sports scientist, Professor Rouillon, said: “Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity.”

Having taken the time to research the issue for nearly two decades (how noble of him!), Rouillon found that women who wear a bra are likely to have breasts up to 7mm lower than women who go without. Apparently, we become “dependent” on the support of our faithful bras once we start wearing them, meaning that the muscle that would otherwise have supported our bust begins to weaken.

Just one of the many to voice a reaction to this ‘research’, Emer O’Toole wrote this ironic take on living life braless, suggesting (jokily, as far as it matters, don’t get all worked up) that bras cover up women’s nipples and mould their bosoms into the ideal ‘sexy’, non-hemp wearing hippy form, and are therefore instruments of the patriarchy and body fascism that makes us condemn our bodies for how they actually are.

This piece, entitled ‘Ditching my bra would be heaven’ explains the writer’s ‘hatred’ of bras, and how she offers ‘respect’ to a woman who doesn’t wear a bra through a desire to be ‘free’.

In theory, great. In practice, personally? Um, hell no.

At first read, as someone who would generally prefer to live at least 65% of my life in tracksuit trousers, fleece socks and hoodies (COME ON, freelance career!) and who takes great and genuine relief in unhooking myself from said contraption as I snuggle into my duvet of an evening, the idea that a bra is a ridiculously outmoded piece of stupid and useless equipment strongly appeals. I also know that a bad bra is perfectly capable of totally ruining my day (constantly falling down shoulder straps, anyone?! ARGH).

Despite claims to the contrary I will be keeping my bra on [Credit: DarkPaisley, Flickr CC]

Despite suggestions to the contrary I will be keeping my bra on [Credit: DarkPaisley, Flickr CC]

But is anyone else with similarly generous boobs thinking that 7mm is hardly that big a deal? Half a centimetre? If that’s all I’m missing out on then I think I’ll keep my bra on, thanks (no sniggering at the back). My boobs have already started their slow descent from where they first began and I’m not even 25. With my Dairy Milk addiction already compounding my fears that I may not have a waist come age 50, I don’t think worrying about 7mm here or there on account of what some old dude thinks is quite my biggest stress at this point.*

As much as part of me wants to rebel against the idea of strapping up my womanly bits up in a thing that makes very little sense, flummoxes horny guys the world over, and which strikes of the West’s obsession with denying women the chance to feel happy about their natural bodies, that part will not, I’m afraid, be my boobs.

I’m the girl who has to keep her bra on if I choose to eat on a sofa or in bed, simply to avoid, for want of a better phrase, ‘boobage in the soup’. And I greatly appreciate the fact that my bra allows me to get close to a desk or table without having to rearrange things first.

If you can get away without wearing a bra, due to confidence, youth or a lack of heft, then three thousand perky points to you, my small-boobed friend. Enjoy your backless dresses and risky side-boob and glorious sense of air and freedom about the armpits.

But reckon no bras are the way forward for all? Ha. Not this girl. Come back to me in ten years time when I can still see my feet.

*(Even M. Je Measure Boobs Pour A Living eventually admits that those of us who have worn a bra for several years shouldn’t stop now. Quelle relief.)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Teresa Fitzherbert permalink
    April 18, 2013 11:11 am

    The backless dresses. Oh, how I wish I could wear backless dresses.

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