Ladies, are you making the biggest boob of all by continuing to wear a bra? Now bras are being blamed for many bosom malfunctions; and far from bolstering them up, they are dragging them down. Stars like Kim Kardashian and Kelly Brook have led the way on the red carpet in unhooking their undies and letting these assets swing free. The dire consequences of sagging and back pain have now been attributed to the very articles formerly designed to prevent them. Wearing a bra, French research now cites, does more harm than good.
While it went without saying that Kelly Brook was braless at the National Television Awards this week, her fantastic form fully visible beneath her sheer black dress, this is less likely to be acceptable in, say, the workplace, where it may, at the very least, prove a distraction. It may cause a health and safety issue.
It’s all well and good telling women their bras are bad for them, but can they really unhook for good?
This is not something researchers at the French University of Besancon have taken into account. They have been concentrating on the strength of the chest muscles, and how and why they either improve or deteriorate, with support. Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, leading the study, spent the last 15 years examining the breasts of 330 women. He took measurements and calculations for those both inside and outside the confines of brassieres. He has now announced some interesting results. Not strapping them up every day allows breasts to stay in shape. They tighten and they lift, and even the quality of the skin improves. These are pretty impressive consequences. Professor Rouillon said the women in his control group suffered no discomforts or side effects and continued to play sports and pursue normal activities without a bra on. On average, it took them three months to get used to it.
The professor now feels confident to assert that bras are a “false necessity. ”
This does refute long held, and also researched, opinion, that breast tissues get stretched and torn in vigorous exercise and all that bouncing about will make them unable to bounce back. There is an entire industry in sports bras and supported running tops.
The evidence comes with some surprising statistics. Unharnessing the bra straps, after one year going “au naturel,” saw a 7mm improvement in the amount of sag. Rouillon’s results echo those of a Japanese study in 1990, which came to the same conclusion. “Medically, physiologically, anatomically…”said Rouillon, “breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity.” Indeed, it seems they perk up.
A slide ruler and a caliper were the scientific tools used in the evaluations and the 7mm droop was put down to a dependence on lingerie which allowed the breast muscles to get slack. The experiments were all undertaken at the University Hospital in Besancon.
Authors Niels H. Lauersen MD., PhD., and Susan M.Love in their respective books, The Complete Book of Breast Care and Dr Susan Love’s Breast Book have also written that going bra-free is the way to get the mammaries to strengthen up and sag less.
In the sixties, the idea of “burning the bra” was closely linked to the then-nascent feminist movement. Bras were seen as symbols of the patriarchal oppression. It had become socially acceptable for all women to wear a bra and still is. Historically though, bras have not been around for long at all. They have been around less than a century. The problem with female breasts is that they are sexual objects and de-sexualizing them is an impossible aim. Going braless puts them on display. This is fine for Kim Kardashian and other well-endowed celebrities, but not so for politicians, lawyers or teachers. Angela Merkel, for example, going braless, would cause a few ripples. It shouldn’t cause issues, but it would.
This is despite the fact that bra wearing may also have health risks. Both breast cancer and fibrocystic breasts have been connected to bras. Sidney Singer Ross, a medical anthropologist, argues that thousands of years of evolution did not lead to the inevitability of the bra. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where women go topless, death from breast cancer is substantially lower. It is thought that compression of the lymphatic tissues in the breast can cause damage to the toxin drainage system. Swelling and tenderness are signs that the lymph nodes cannot do their job properly. Toxins then accumulate and serious problems can result.
Tight bra straps are another health hazard. They can cut into the shoulders, pressurizing the cervical nerve. Pain can then spread down the upper torso and into the arms and hands. Serious headaches and neck pain can ensue.
Underwiring is another culprit in the digging in and pressure-spot problems, as any woman who has ever had a wire work its way loose can testify.
The choice to wear a bra or not ought to be easy, but it is not. It is heaped with conflicting societal anxieties. Getting properly measured and wearing a good-fitting and attractive bra is a kind of unspoken prerequisite for being a mature female. The visibility of female nipples is always a topic for “titillation.” Attitudes towards breastfeeding underscore the ambiguity about acknowledging breasts.
There may be a need to have a great deal more research done before the majority of women can be convinced that it is a big boob to continue to wear a bra.
By Kate Henderson