Being a young woman growing up during the fourth wave of feminism has given me some perspective on a woman’s choice to wear a bra. There is a social aspect to the topic that I find quite interesting, but also the practical element that I have found relevant as an athlete.
Bras are used to provide support for breasts. They protect the tissue inside, and this is particularly useful for large breasts. Excessive movement caused by running or jumping can be painful and bras are great to curb this discomfort. Bras also give you a shapelier figure.
Bras have been part of the clothing industry since 1914. Before that, women wore corsets that were fashioned like bras but did not provide the support feature that modern day bras do. The feminist movement has undergone multiple generations and changes which have had an impact on women’s choice to wear a bra.
What is the Purpose of a Bra?
Bras become part of a young girl’s closet when she reaches adolescence. With the growth of breast tissue, many of them may choose to wear a bra during their everyday life as an extra support and to be more comfortable without any self-conscious feelings.
Breast sizes differ amongst women and therefore the clothing industry provides different styles to suit different types of shirts as well as providing different levels of support. For women with a larger bust, a bra can really help control the back pain they experience from having such an uneven weight distribution.
Different Reasons for Wearing a Bra
As previously mentioned, this generation of feminists have broken away from the mould and choose not to wear bras. Some women find them restrictive, uncomfortable, and a manifestation of the patriarchy. Some workplaces frown upon women choosing to go bra-less as it “distracts” their male co-workers. This is seen as ridiculous and outdated. A movement was started on social media in 2012 called #FreeTheNipple. This made women feel empowered about their choice to go without a bra instead of being shamed and sexualised. Choosing to wear a bra is an informed decision based on several different reasons.
Bras have multiple functions and can help to
- enhance cleavage,
- act as underwear by reducing friction between clothing and skin,
- hide nipples,
- delay the breasts from sagging,
- prevent the breasts from bouncing when doing exercise,
- control excessive sweating beneath the bust
Most of these reasons for wearing a bra are up to personal preference. Some women may be more self-conscious about their breasts sagging or their nipples showing than others.
Since bras help with distributing the weight of the breasts and supporting them, this can make t-shirts and blouses look better and fit more comfortably. Choosing the right bra will definitely help with creating a shapely figure and helping with some of that discomfort that comes with a big bust.
Another factor that needs to be considered is that the bra itself should not cause any discomfort. There are a variety of materials to choose from and this is important because the bra is underwear for the upper body. The same rules apply as those for underwear on the lower body. The bra should reduce any chafing between the skin and clothing and act as an extra layer of protection.
As someone who exercises regularly by going to the gym and road running, wearing a bra is quite helpful and prevents pain that can hinder my performance. The soft tissue in the breasts can be hurt from the bouncing motion during exercise. A bra keeps everything in place and does not get in the way.
Why Is It a Good Idea to Wear a Bra?
As mentioned above, wearing a bra can prevent you from feeling self-conscious in social interactions especially if you are around other women that choose to wear bras.
If you do not wear a bra, you could find yourself in an uncomfortable position with sweat stains under the bust. Bras made from soft fabric like cotton or mesh, help to absorb that sweat with the band and prevents it from sticking to your shirt. Sweat stains will make you want to cross your arms in an effort to cover your chest until you can change your shirt. This is an unnecessary burden to think about because you would prefer to be focused on what is going on around you.
Your comfort should be a top priority and if you have a large bust, you should definitely wear a bra and prevent the chest and back pain that comes with those proportions. Spare yourself the awkward and judgmental stares from people who think female breasts are controversial.
The stares can be uncomfortable and may ruin your self-confidence. This attack on the self-esteem can subconsciously limit the types of clothes you wear. You might stray from tight, thin clothing as a way to make your chest less obvious. Thus, leading to baggy clothes and layers to cover up.
Wearing a bra opens up your clothing options, especially in a professional setting where you never want to give off a bad impression. People make their own assumptions and even though going bra-less can feel so liberating, women still have to deal with the unfortunate double standards.
Another great reason applies to those with a smaller bust. Wearing a push up bra lifts the breasts and gives the appearance that they are much bigger than they actually are. This can be a great confidence boost for some because it means they can fill out any type of blouse without feeling insecure.
Choosing the Right Bra
To receive all the great benefits of wearing a bra, it is important to examine your options and choose the correct one for you. Most women start wearing a bra from the age of 12. A bra for a young girl can be easy to purchase because training bras are quite simple and do not have any extra adjustments.
Once you get older and your breasts develop, that is when you have to start asking questions and doing your research. The right bra is supposed to comfortably support both breasts without feeling too tight and leaving red marks on your skin, but it must also not be too loose otherwise it defeats the purpose. The right bra will delay the process of sagging that happens over time and allow you to move freely without any discomfort.
Certain bras are designed to be worn with certain types of shirts. For example, a t-shirt bra is more suitable for everyday wear and simply supports the breasts and keeps them in place. This is different to the purpose of a sports bra which is intended for use during exercises. A sports bra is not particularly flattering but can be preferable for large busts and for all women when performing exercises.
Make sure to wear the correct size (cup and band) in order to benefit the most from the support. Having such a variety of bras means that you can find the right fit and adjustment for yourself.
Options such as bralettes, bandeaus, seamless bras, and built-in bras are all different to traditional bras because they do not have thick cups and are more subtle while still providing a measure of support.
Whether you choose to wear the bra or ditch it completely, there are many reasons why it is a good idea to wear them for the working day and then remove it at the end of the day. Consider your health and lifestyle when making this decision because it is ultimately about your comfort. Get informed and experiment until you find the right fit for you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need to wear a bra while I am pregnant?
A: You do not have to wear a bra, but it is not damaging if you do. Sensitive breasts and nipples during pregnancy might encourage you to have an extra layer of padding but it is up to you and what feels comfortable.
Q: What is the best bra to wear while pregnant?
A: A soft bra with no underwire is a good idea especially during the third trimester when the bust gets bigger. Sports bras and nursing bras are both good options.
Q: What type of bra is most suitable for a woman with small breasts?
A: Small breasts do not require as much support as bigger breasts, therefore it depends on the appearance you are going for. A bralette is a good option because it is lightweight with slight support, while a padded push up bra will give you a fuller look.