We’re not really sure who decided that women should wear bras, but the undergarment has nonetheless become a mainstay under the guise that bras can relieve back pain, support our chests and prevent sagging.
A new, 15-year French study, however, reveals quite the contrary: Bras do not help ease back pain, and over time can actually make our breasts saggier. Woohoo! Just what you wanted to be told after 10-plus years of wearing demi cups from Victoria’s Secret!
“Bras are a false necessity,” says Researcher Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports science expert from the University of Besancon in France.
The team measured the changes in breasts of 330 women and found that those who abandoned their bras permanently experienced a seven millimeter lift in their nipples for each year that they didn’t wear a bra. They also discovered that braless women had firmer breasts and faded stretch marks. But did they account for all visible instances of nipple-itis?
Additionally, there was no evidence that bras relieve back pain; they can actually exacerbate the problem. “The findings suggest that breasts would gain more tone and support themselves if no bra was used. Bras limit the growth of supporting breast tissues, leaving the breast to wither and degrade more quickly,” according to the study.
But don’t have a hippie revolution and let your ta-tas run wild just yet. "It would be dangerous to advise all women to stop wearing their soutien-gorge as the women involved were not a representative sample of the population," Rouillon said. Meaning, don’t toss your entire collection too soon.
What we can deduce from these initial results is that there is a false “need” to wear a bra. Women who have been wearing bras for their lifetime, however, would not draw any advantage from stopping now.