By Iolee Anagnostopoulou

We might not be in lockdown any more, but our bras don’t know that! With many of us now working from home, we technically no longer need to wear one daily.

The bra-less trend itself is not unprecedented—bra-burning protests featured during the feminist movements of the 60s and the 70s. Half a century later, the trend is rising again amongst millennial women, including celebrities like Rihanna and Kendall Jenner, with the main argument being simple: comfort.

But before I go ahead and set the girls free for good, I can’t help but wonder: ‘What will actually happen if I stop wearing bras?’

Inconclusive Research

The debate over the health benefits of bra wearing has a problem: there’s not been much research on the subject. Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, from the University of Besançon, France, conducted a  15-year study with 320 volunteer women aged 18 to 35. 

But even he emphasised that his sample was not representative of the global population of women and wasn’t definitive. Specialists’ opinions differ on the matter, and there really isn’t a unanimous answer as to whether bras are good or bad.

Healthier Breast Tissue

Rouillon’s study noted that wearing a bra could prevent healthy breast tissue growth. Breast tissue helps strengthen your breast muscles naturally resulting in stronger, rounder and perkier breasts. This can also prevent breast density, which could increase the chances of developing breast cancer.

However, the American Cancer Society has reported that there is no scientific evidence to associate bra-wearing with breast cancer. The NCBI also noted that this theory lacks sufficient credible studies.

The Elephant In The Room

Ladies, I know we are all thinking about it, so let’s just address it: does going braless cause sagging? Breasts are a source of confidence for women, and we naturally take into account any risk of drooping (technical term: “ptosis”) when ditching the bra.

Rouillon’s study subjects who did not wear bras, developed more muscle tissue, providing natural support. He found that bras can weaken the chest muscles and prevent tissue from growing, thereby stimulating sagging. However, older women, who have been wearing bras for decades, don’t benefit from going braless.

But then, ob-gyn and author of She-ology, Dr Sherry Ross, says “When you don’t put the girls in a bra every day, you’re giving all that delicate and sensitive breast tissue an opportunity to stretch and do whatever it wants—which is hang low because, you know, gravity.”

Although experts are split, they agree, bra-wearing excluded, there are multiple factors when sagging occurs, including weight, weight loss, genetics, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Size Does Matter!

As boobs, D cups or above can weigh more than a kilo, I can’t see Dolly Parton going braless! It is safe to say that bras are not purely cosmetic. They support the structure and weight of the breast, especially during exercise.

Karena Wu, at New York’s Active Care Physical Therapy, says “If you go without a bra, the weight of your breasts could round your posture, pulling your head forward and pushing your ribcage down. For larger cup sizes, that can potentially cause back pain, discomfort, and even headaches due to compressed nerves in the neck.”

Better Circulation

Be honest, when was the last time you actually went for a bra fitting? Mmhm…likewise! 

Studies estimate that 80% of women wear the wrong sized bras. Rouillon studied the effects of tight bras on blood circulation, and it can slow when your major blood vessels around the chest area are squeezed. 

Wearing a too big bra doesn’t distribute the bust’s weight properly and has been linked to chronic back pain. So if you are not wearing a correctly fitting bra, you might as well just not wear one at all!

Skin Hygiene

Boob sweat…the bane of a hot, sunny, summer’s day. Apart from itchiness caused by friction, imagine all that sweat, dirt and bacteria gathered between the breast and the bra’s fabric! Yuck!

According to Dr Alexes Hazen, “Warm, moist skin is an ideal breeding ground for bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections, which can surface in the form of an uncomfortable rash”.

Economise

Let’s face it, being a woman, especially in the 21st century, is expensive!

I am jealous of my boyfriend for not having to spend money on bras, feminine products, skincare, makeup, etc. Either due to our body’s natural needs or society’s standards, women by default, have more expenses. Personally, I would love to spend that considerable amount on something other than a bra!

Taking off my bra is one of the first things I do when I get home, signalising well-deserved freedom and the upcoming Netflix session!

National No Bra Day is on October 13th, but I don’t think I am ready to go braless in public. My shirts don’t sit well, it seems inappropriate sometimes, I feel nervous and uncomfortable, not to mention the staring my “second set of eyes” get in winter! Girls and breasts come in all shapes and sizes, so decide on your own criteria, making sure that comfort is one of them!