The topic of bras came up over dinner with some friends a couple of weeks ago, and a few arguments for ditching the daily essential were presented and briefly discussed before the conversation moved on to other topics. Bras are good for you right? They give you support, keep you in all the right places, and generally make your breasts look nice and perky. Maybe not.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that going bra-less may actually be better for you, but it prompted me to finally get thinking seriously about it. I, like most young women, got my first training bras when I began to develop, somewhere around the age of 13, and then swiftly moved on to ‘proper’ bras as I grew. I’ve always bought fairly standard bras; underwired, with a bit of padding at the front so my nipple doesn’t poke through whatever top I’m wearing, but not so much as to make my breasts look any bigger than they really are, and I’ve been happy with that.
But the controversy over bras at the kitchen table got me thinking, and being someone who loves all things natural, I finally decided to do my research and find out if I should be ditching my boulder-holders altogether. So, after a morning of reading through article after article I can admit that I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with the amount of information available. But I’m also feeling like ditching the daily bra and giving my breasts the freedom they deserve might be a really good thing to do! Which is a scary thought because I’ve always been pretty conscious about the way my body looks and the idea of them bouncing around as they please, or, god forbid, someone seeing my nipple poking through my t-shirt, leaves me feeling pretty uneasy!
Here’s my findings, lifted from a lot of different articles and summarised for your easy reading, and you can make up your mind how you feel about the whole situation.
First off, to quell probably the scariest notion out there, it looks like your bra isn’t going to drastically increase your risk of getting cancer. Phew. Although they can cause poor lymphatic drainage due to constricting your body, which could mean a blockage and the potential for you to be more likely to contract cancer, but that’s all pretty unlikely. It’s also suggested that this is caused by ill-fitting bras, and that actually if you get a bra properly fitted you’ll probably be absolutely fine. But you can read more about that here.
Another article, this time against under-wiring, posed the idea that the wire constricts the flesh around your breasts and could cause those same lymphatic blockages which could result in not so nice lumps. This is a Daily Mail article so I’m not entirely sure how much I believe it, but you can have a look for yourself here.
The second largest argument against wearing bras that I’ve seen is that they actually contribute to your breasts becoming saggier quicker by reducing the skin elasticity and muscle surrounding them. This actually makes quite a bit of sense. As your breasts are constantly supported the need for the muscle around them to develop it’s own strength for support is reduced and therefore your breasts rely on the bra to support them, then when the bra is removed they sag. Much like if you never used your legs your leg muscles would under-develop and you wouldn’t be able to stand properly. So for healthier, stronger, and better looking breasts, the bra doesn’t sound like the best option. There’s more information about this here, and here.
Of course, for more well-endowed women, going without a bra can seem like a terrible idea, especially if you’ve been wearing one for years. In this case they act as a brilliant support where otherwise problems such as back pain could cause daily discomfort and problems. But of course, if choosing to wear a bra it sounds like you should definitely be making sure you get it fitted so it’s exactly right for you. There’s quite a lot of information flying around about the benefits going bra-less can have for your breast health. Including better circulation and breathing as you’re no longer restricted, cleaner and healthier breast tissue as your skin can breathe better and dirt and sweat isn’t held against the skin, and that your breasts will be perkier, fuller and rounder due to developing their own muscle. These are summarised in these articles here, and here.
There’s also the question of money. There’s no denying that bras are damn expensive, and going without them could end up saving you quite a lot! And there are other options out there as well. If you’re like me and you’re a bit afraid of letting it all hang loose, then you could switch to sports bras which don’t have the under-wiring that could be bad for your health, and are generally much comfier. Or you could try using bralettes, which apparently have a lot less support but will still generally hold you in place when you need to be. There’s also the question of freedom. A lot of bras are uncomfortable, and we all love taking them off at the end of the day. A lot of women who’ve ditched the bras say they’re happier and more comfortable. I know I certainly enjoy days at home when I don’t bother to wear one.
In theory, I’ve already made up my mind to ditch the bra and let my breasts go natural. I love the idea that the skin and muscles around them will develop and that they’ll be healthier for it, without being constricted, and held in place by this damn expensive and mostly uncomfortable undergarment.
But as I mentioned earlier I’m pretty self-conscious, and the idea of wandering around with my breasts doing their own thing, or of someone seeing my nipple through my t-shirt, is not a welcome one. At this time of year it should be fine as its cold so I can wear a lot of jumpers, but I think I might pick myself up a couple of sports bras for those days when I’m heading into an important meeting or doing something especially active.