Monday, November 2, 2015

The Power of Bras

No one believes more in the power of bras than I do, the way they transform my figure or my mood. But there are a few things they can't and won't do for my breasts.

Here are the top five biggest bra myths -- and reasons why you should feel free to ignore them:

Bra Myth #1: Bra wear causes breast cancer. This myth has resurfaced recently, thanks to the authors of Dressed to Kill, a book published in 2005 and claiming such a link. They believe The American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are conspiring to suppress the truth about the real cause of breast cancer. But every reputable cancer charity and research organization disputes their theory. There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your risk of breast cancer, but tossing out your bra isn't one of them.

Bra Myth #2: Wearing a bra stops breasts from sagging. I've heard this one repeated by bra fitters and even some bra manufacturers. But there's no science behind the claim that wearing a bra makes your breasts perkier or prevents sagging. Besides, isn't "sag" subjective? Breasts can rest in a gazillion different places on women's chests; some high, low, off to the side, in the middle and with fullness changing by the week and as you age. Your skin's elasticity and firmness are genetically determined. What's known is that it breaks down with rapid weight gain or loss, through smoking or as you get older. But a bra only prevents normal boob droop while you're wearing one.

Bra Myth #3: Wearing bras makes breasts sag. This bra myth took off when the media picked up on a student radio interview with a French college professor conducting research on the subject. There was no peer-reviewed, published study backing up the professor's claim. None. Nada. Zip. However, there are a couple of small studies showing some improved lift in larger-busted ladies after they ditched their bras. Bottom line is that, like Myth #2, your perky may be another person's saggy. If going without a bra makes you feel more uplifted, don't wear one.

Bra Myth #4: Eight out of 10 women wear the wrong size bra. OK, this may be less a myth than just a "mantra," but it does get a whole lot of press. This statistic, and ones citing even higher percentages, are often used as a hook to sell bras. But they aren't based on any broad, peer-reviewed, published studies. It is a convenient way to remind women that boobs can change and it might be time to buy new bras and/or get fitted.

But does it matter? Of course, 8 or 9 or 10 out of 10 women are wearing the "wrong size" bra. Most of us wear the wrong size at least once a month, thanks to our hormones. The not-so-shocking truth is that no two bras fit the exact same way. There are too many different styles, fabrics and methods of construction. When you add the wide range of sizes and types of boob placement to that equation (see Myth #2), it's no wonder we all struggle with finding a well-fitting bra. So ignore this rallying cry. Get fitted when you need new bras. Wear what feels and fits you best. And remember, band and cup numbers don't define you.

Bra Myth #5: Bras are terrible, awful contraptions, that must have been invented by a man. I see too many stories bemoaning the horrors of wearing bras and how women wish they didn't have to wear them. They claim we can't wait to take them off or go without them on weekends. I don't think these generalizations are true (and according to Jane Farrell-Beck, author of Uplift: The Bra in America, over 50% of all bra patents are held by women).

It may be hard for me to find a pair of jeans that flatter my butt and shorter body -- especially fashionable skinny jeans -- but I don't curse the entire jean industry because I'm struggling to find the right pair. Nope, I just keep trying on different styles until I find the perfect fit. And after I've made my purchase, I can't wait to wear them out; over and over again. I'm only disappointed when they start to look faded and ragged, and I have to go out and shop for more. Kind of like my best bras.

What's your view? Do you agree with this list of bra myths? Got any of your own?

This article first posted on The Breast Life.

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A list of things I wish women's magazines would publish

You don’t need to get your clothes tailored. No one needs to get their clothes tailored.

No one gives a damn if you have a signature cocktail at your party. Literally no one. Buy seven more bottles of wine and don’t worry about it.

It’s totally fine to buy most of your wardrobe from Forever 21 and when people ask about it, just say you bought it at Zara.

An article about elastic waists. My body doesn’t want to wear denim. I know bootcut jeans are in this fall, but I want to be swaddled like a little burrito into some leggings.

Forget about burpies. I know, I know, we need more activity not less. Get out on the dance floor. Walk back and forth in front of your ex’s house. Squat over public toilets. Those all count.

A story about a celebrity that doesn’t have a stunning millionaire woman telling us how to love ourselves. I know Cameron Diaz wants me to embrace my body – she wrote a book about that for heaven’s sake! – but she also married a man from Good Charlotte who now has a skull tattoo. I don’t really feel like she’s the authority on self-love.

Everyone has to shave their toe hairs. You’re lying if you don’t have to.

Speaking of, I wish women’s magazines would do a nice tutorial of how to shave. I feel like I never really got the hang of it.

In the career section: I want to hear from, like, a tollbooth operator. Why is it just journalists, CEOs and occasionally a congresswoman? I want to hear about what it’s like to be a waitress or a board game designer. I’m never, after all, going to get a job where I wear a pantsuit.

Movies to watch without your boyfriend.

No more easy hairstyle ideas. Look, we are all trying to figure out how to not look like our hair is just a pile of garbage that got caught in a salad spinner. But vague four-step directions that apparently lead to a messy fishtail braid are not the answer. Everyone’s hair is way too different anyway.


I wish women’s magazines would get a new set of body types. It’s usually boyish, apple, pear or curvy – none of which fit me. And why fruit? Let’s get some real body types out there, like I Want to Hide My Arms or Help Me Disguise My Flat Ass or I Don’t Want to Suck In All Day, What Should I Wear?

Ways to blow your own mind in bed.

Speaking of bodies, I’m frankly tired of women’s magazines asking super hot people about their favorite feature. If you aren’t going to answer “my brain” you at least ought to subvert things a little with “my cellulite” or “my stretch marks”. Come on! Men’s magazines aren’t asking men about their favorite body part (though to be fair, it would always be his dick).

Recently, Oprah’s magazine suggested that crop tops are only for those people with a flat stomach. Which is complete bullshit on a lot of levels, but I would just love to see a magazine go balls-out and publish photos of women wearing whatever the hell they want.

Articles that don’t consult men on what is sexy. At all.

One issue – one single issue – of a magazine that doesn’t include the advice that indulging in a little dark chocolate is OK. I’d adore an article that just said: “Go for it girl, eat the whole pan of lasagne. We aren’t even concerned if you earned it or not! You don’t ‘earn’ calories. You’re a grown adult! Live your truth and buy two pretzels from the mall.”

Don’t text him. Just that. Just that line. We all need it sometimes.

Who fucking cares what boys think about rompers? Wear one on your first date. Wear one on every date until you die. Make your wedding dress a romper. Get him to wear rompers! Who cares what boys think about clothes!


An article about how to let boys down. It seems like this doesn’t come up in magazines, as if no woman would ever want to let go of a potential dating partner. But, um, we do sometimes.

Just some good, well-written stories about womanhood. Not excerpts from romance novels, but the real stuff – the hard, real life, “miscarriage while my best friend is having twins” kind of stuff. The “I was a cleaning lady for 12 years” stories.

For that matter, book suggestions that aren’t beach reads. Also, stop calling everything that has to do with women a beach read.

A recipe where I have actually heard of every ingredient.

A whole article tellings us what women find sexy. Not “how to attract anyone”, just how to divine pleasure from sex that isn’t just “put a pillow under your butt while he has sex with you in missionary for the fourth time this week.”

By the way – no more sex moves articles. Seriously, there’s just four of them anyway. There’s missionary when you’re boring. Girl on top when you’re trying to enjoy sex. Doggy-style when you don’t want to face your mistakes. And variations of the above for when you’re trying to be A Fun Person.

A day of meal plans, but it’s just popcorn the whole day. With different flavors.

A letter from the editor that includes nothing about meeting a celebrity and a busy schedule that’s mostly just going to functions and getting hair and makeup done while emailing.

A letter from the editor that seems heartfelt or necessary.

Even a funny letter from the editor would work.

Also, we don’t care about your “signature”. We know you didn’t sign every single magazine.