Editorial

8 fitting responses from your bra

How bewildered are you when you stand in front of a store’s lingerie section? The sheer range, colours, designs, and forms of bras are enough to create a mental fog. You can fill a little notebook with the bra types: push-up, multiway, strapless, demicup, sports bra, minimizer, padded, T-shirt bra, plunge, wireless, maternity, seamless and stick-on. It’s a carnival of bras. As you stand goggle-eyed at this profusion of choices, wondering which type would flatter you the most, one tiny voice in your mind tries to speak up. It attempts to educate you about bra comfort, fit and health before you decide on buying a barely-there, hot pink, tie-and-tease version. But the tiny voice likely gets drowned as other more urgent whispers of excitement, anticipation and aspiration set up a babble of want in your mind.

The truth is women have for so long been bombarded with messages on bra glamour that allowing for some logic on bra comfort seems a waste of time. Just look at the glossy, airbrushed photographs of models wearing sexy whispers of lace and satin that turn mammary glands into objects of intense desire. What hope do mundane concepts like bra fit and health have of finding space in that glorified world?

But they must. The fact is, if you are the bra-wearing type, you need to understand a fundamental reality: wearing an ill-fitting bra is not a good idea. What does that mean? It means a bra that does not provide your breasts firm support. Do your breasts need support? It depends on who you ask. Historically, in many cultures, women have resorted to many ways to keep breasts in place. In other cultures, they are unrestricted by cloth or contraption. Medically, many doctors say it’s okay to let your breasts be as nature intended them. Physiologically, breasts, heavy breasts especially, are better off with bra support, say some experts.

Many women will counter the pro-bra lobby to tell you that bras are on the verge of irrelevancy. The pandemic has rewritten freedom rules as we spend more time at home, remote working, unwinding, letting go of old norms. Ditching bras for comfort and ease is among the expressions of that liberation. Many women are finding joy in the unrestricted movement of their bodies, dispensing with the unclasping, and clasping, of hooklets as a daily chore, and so be it. It’s their choice. But what if you want to continue wearing a bra? That’s a choice too.

Wear it for all the right reasons

The symbolism of the bra has always been complex. This undergarment’s origins and evolution are firmly strapped to women’s rights and the ownership of one’s body. More than a century since it appeared, the bra, patented in 1914 by an American socialite Mary Phelps Jacobs, continues to be attacked for its ability to objectify women. But that’s another story.

Right here and now, let’s get back to the matter of bra comfort and fit as essential factors.

  1. Comfort is everything: Yes, you read that right. If you want to wear a bra, make sure it fits well. It must not be tight; the straps must not push into your skin. Instead, they must offer support to your shoulders. The cups must cover your breasts gently without squishing them or cutting into them.
  1. Wear it and forget it: If you are wearing a bra and chafing and squirming all the time, your skin under the bra itches or hurts, or your back feels like it is being pulled upwards by bra straps, it means it is not a good fit. Ill-fitting bras can lead to neck pain and restrict the chest muscles. If the shoulder straps are tight, your shoulders will get affected. Remember, a good bra must feel like a second skin. 
  1. Let it breathe: Sequins, sparkles, and netting? Bras with spangled features make for interesting photographs, but breathable, soft fabric that saves your pores from struggling for air. Spangles and flimsy whims are not on the same page when it comes to comfort and positive support.
  1. Ease the load: Do bras help ease the weight of heavy breasts? Most experts will tell you they do. Women with heavy breasts often experience back pain and other discomforts. A well-fitting bra can help ease this problem by supporting the breasts. Talking of heavy breasts, do breasts sag if a bra does not prop them? Some doctors say breast muscle will learn to strengthen if you stop offering it support. But the consensus is a properly fitting bra helps significantly in this matter.
  1. Workout wear: While exercising, running, or doing intense sports, a sports bra is just what you need. Breasts are moving parts of the body and will benefit from being given support during a workout to keep the muscles and tissues from excessive strain.
  1. Pick the right cup: Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. There is a reason why bras come in different cup sizes and breast sizes too. Know your cup and breast size when you buy a bra. If you need help, consult the store manager. It’s essential to wear the correct cup size so your breasts feel comfortable in it. Wearing the wrong cup size can alter your breast’s natural shape and size and place a strain on the breast tissue.
  1. Breast cancer and bras: There is no evidence to suggest that wearing bras causes breast cancer. 
  1. Night-time rules: This is one area where the no-bra rule works fine. Tight nightwear, including bras, pyjamas, or shorts, are best left in the closet. Keep your sleep time relaxed by wearing loose, soft, comfortable, breathable clothing. 

So, there you are. When choosing a bra, pick it for the right reasons. Put comfort and health before style. Your body will thank you for it.

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