Categories
Self-Care Lookbook

I ditched my bra during the pandemic. Here’s why I’m not going back

I haven’t worn a bra in over two months. When self-isolation orders hit during the pandemic, I was one of the many women lucky enough to be able to ditch it. After all, in the comfort of our homes, studying or working remotely, there’s no reason to keep going to ‘boob jail’. Is there?

I pondered that question when my breast tenderness went into hyperdrive during PMS time. That never happened during my pre-COVID-19 bra-wearing time. Had I done something wrong? Can going braless damage the health and appearance of our breasts?

In my quest to find answers, I turned to science.

Here’s the lowdown on what experts say:

No, it won’t make them saggy.

Woman taking off her bra under her shirt
[Image description: Woman taking off her bra under her shirt.] Via Giphy
Well, they will. But due to age and gravity. Not from a lack of bra.

Dan Mills, MD, vice president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, told Health that Cooper’s ligament, the connective tissue in our breasts, is to blame.

More specifically, it’s due to collagen and elastin. The protein fibers that keep our skin tight and firm. Like all tissues in our bodies, they deteriorate as we age.

What else determines the overall look of our breasts as we get older? The fat to glandular tissue ratio. Fat distribution is unique in each woman, but it tends to increase with age for all of us. Bad news is more fatty tissue means saggy boobs.

All in all, most experts agree that wearing a bra doesn’t slow down the process. In fact, according to French scientist, Jean-Denis Ruillon, it may weaken the muscles that support our breasts. Making them sag earlier.

Appearance is not everything, however.

What about health?

Golden Girls shaking their breasts
[Image description: Golden Girls shaking their breasts.] Via Giphy
Let’s be real. Breasts can get heavy. Depending on their size, they can weigh anywhere from 500g to 2kg or more.

While a sedentary lifestyle (hello quarantine!) doesn’t put as much stress on them, simply walking around can create discomfort in some women.

Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Portsmouth, told HuffPost that investing in a well-fitted bra may be a necessary step if you have breast pain.

If that’s your situation, make sure you get a properly sized bra and adjust the straps. An ill-fitted one can be just as harsh on your body as not wearing any.

In my case, PMS soreness eventually went away, and I’ve never felt freer in my bralessness.

As we all set to go back to work soon, I’m not sure if it’ll stick. Whether I’m ready to face the stigma of ‘freeing the nipple’ or not, remains unknown.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. And it’s valid, whatever it is.

Want more good news?

Woman asking "do I own a real bra?"
[Image description: Woman asking “do I own a real bra”?] Via Giphy
It’s possible to have a bra that feels like you’re not wearing one.

Here are 3 of my favorite brands that offer comfy bras with no underwire.

Moon and Jules

Black woman wearing an orange wireless bra
[Image description: Black woman wearing an orange wireless bra.] Via MoonandJules on Instagram
Moons and Jules is a Copenhagen based company who believes lingerie should adjust to your body. Not the other way around. Their bras accentuate your natural curves while promising comfort all day long.

The brand’s embrace of diversity in its model choice and design of undergarments is also noteworthy.

Knix

Black woman wearing jeans, a black bra, and a vest over her shoulder
[Image description: Black woman wearing jeans, a black bra, and a vest over her shoulder.] Via Knix on Instagram
Designed to make you feel comfortable in your own skin, these bras offer wire-free support to women of all sizes.

Their underwear is seamless, chafe-free, and functional.

Trueandco

Black woman wearing light pink bra and matching panties
[Image description: Black woman wearing light pink bra and matching panties.] Via Trueandco on Instagram
Trueandco is all about the community. They took into consideration the voices of women to design bras that we can really live in.

They’re soft, cute, super supportive, and most of all comfortable!

Categories
Fashion Lookbook

Here’s my big-chested secret to finding a supportive sports bra

I’ve never understood why it’s so hard to find sports bras or tops that are flattering on large chested women. From my experience, all of the cute ones either only come in smaller sizes, or are impractical. What I do find is never actually supportive, though, like a sports bra should be, and I wind up having to wear two sports bras just to feel comfortable while exercising. This is suffocating and not at all ideal, especially when sweat starts to build up in crevices that should just not be sweating. 

If I don’t go through the hassle of squeezing my chest into 2 sports bras at once, which is something that I think resembles a medieval corset, then I feel almost as if I’m being held back during my workout. It’s hard to push myself when I don’t really feel secure or comfortable. Not to be graphic, but if I’m going on a run or doing jumping jacks, the last thing I want to be thinking about is my boobs flopping around in every direction, basically an inch away from a wardrobe malfunction. Yet most of the time, that is all I can think about. Not to mention that all of that breast movement can also be downright painful during a workout. Frankly, it feels like my boobs are being torn right off my chest with every jump or swing. 

As a result, my exercise routine just doesn’t last very long because I’m so tired of having to deal with my boobs. Sometimes I even find myself holding my breasts in my hands to stop them from bouncing while I’m jogging. But I shouldn’t have to do that. Girls with larger chests should be able to find sports bras, or any other top for that matter, that are flattering, trendy, and fits their chest just as much as the next girl

But I also know that my big boobs are not going anywhere anytime soon. Neither are those narrow stereotypes of the ‘perfect’ female body that are the driving force of the fashion and athleisure industries. So, after a few years of dealing with this, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks of my own for finding a sports bra that is comfortable, stylish, and that I trust to keep my chest in place and supported. 

Our boobs deserve the best — AKA not to be smooshed so I’ve always found it best for a sports bra to have some sort of light cupping on the inside. This ensures that our boobs have a designated place to go so as to limit movement. 

Freya Active Bra.
[Image description: Freya Active Bra.] Via nordstrom.com.
Another thing that is key when looking for a sports bra is a strong and substantial bottom band. This acts like a shelf for our boobs to sit on and helps keep them in place during a high-intensity workout. When looking for a bottom band that offers maximum support, however, it’s important to take into consideration whether or not that band will rub or cause irritation in the area. Rubbing is not good. For this reason, I usually try to go wire-free when picking out a sports bra. Adjustable straps and a flexible under-band are always my go to for comfort and ensuring minimal bounce. 

Natori Gravity Contour Sports Bra.
[Image description: Natori Gravity Contour Sports Bra.] Via nordstrom.com.
Another important aspect is the material that your sports bra is made of. Moisture-wicking or mesh materials are great for soaking up sweat and acting as a ventilator to keep you cool. 

Zella Body Fusion Sports Bra.
[Image description: Zella Body Fusion Sports Bra.] Via nordstrom.com.
It’s time we start taking a stand and taking care of our boobs, because if we don’t, we could be doing more damage than we’d like to think. 

Categories
Science Now + Beyond

Here’s why you’re not supposed to wear a bra, according to science

Hipsters, Kardashians, your closest friends — people are hanging up their bras these days. There have always been societal phases and styles that do not require bras, but it seems to me that there’s been a lot in media recently about going out au naturel.

So, why? What’s the big deal about bras?

cosmopolitan.co.uk
cosmopolitan.co.uk

Before the bra, we had the corset, and that’s not a style I would personally like to bring back. Cue flashback to Keira Knightley passing out in Pirates of the Caribbean. Anyway, in 1914, Mary Phelps Jacobs created the first widely used “backless brassiere.” Bras are worn to offer breasts support and minimize motion during exercise. Sounds good, right? Why would you not wear a bra?

Through a 15 year study, the French scientist, Jean-Denis Ruillon found that while bras have traditionally been thought of as preventing back pain and sagging breasts, bras do nothing to reduce pain and actually weaken muscles, causing breasts to sag more. His results are self-admittedly not definitive because he would need a larger sample size to come to a more serious conclusion. Rouillon also observed that for those women who do not wear a bra, their nipples were 7 millimeters higher per year toward the shoulder.

Moreover, Dr. Joanna Scurr found that wearing the wrong bra can damage breasts.

tophealthnews.net
tophealthnews.net

Physicians and researchers claim that tight-fitting bras block lymph drainage, which prevents the body from releasing all the toxins it needs to. This issue may contribute to the development of breast cancer. These tight-fitting bras might also be a factor in the emergence of benign, but painful breast cysts and lumps. Research has shown that women who wear bras 24 hours a day have a higher chance of developing breast cancer than women who do not.

Underwire bras are supposedly the most dangerous, though. The underwire is almost always made of metal coated in plastic. Below your breasts are two neurolymphatic reflex points associated the the liver, gallbladder, and stomach. When metal is constantly applied to any energy channel, after a while the stimulation becomes sedation and the channel no longer performs the functions it should.

If you are an adult who has worn a bra for years, to stop wearing a bra probably will not allow the benefits younger women might receive if they are to stop wearing the bra. It’s also worth discussing that many people dedicated to the #freethenipple movement don’t wear a bra either.

For many, not wearing a bra just feels more comfortable, sexier even.

Others might feel they need the support a bra to be comfortable. The right choice for you might not be the right choice for me and not everyone has to agree.

Ultimately, though, the most important factor in choosing a bra is to make sure it is the correct fit.