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A bra, short for brassière, from Old French braciere, an interior garniture placed within the armor to help the defense of arms (bras in modern French means "arms") is underwear that provides support and comfort for breasts. In the West, a predecessor garment to the bra originated in the 16th century in the form of a corset.
Reasons to use
The purposes of bras are the following:
- Bras, with padding, can more sharply define the shape of breasts.
- Athletes use sports bras to minimize breast movement because breasts do get in the way and become a nuisance with a lot of movement.
- Given how female nipples are censored in media, bras can prevent nipples from poking through the clothing, although band-aids are a good alternative.
- Bras and other feminine wear can lessen a trans woman's gender dysphoria.
Cancer scareWritten by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, the 1995 book Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras asserts the hypothesis that bras cause cancer. This conclusion was reached through a variety of unscientific methods. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS):
Their study was not conducted according to standard principles of epidemiological research and did not take into consideration other variables, including known risk factors for breast cancer.
Other books such as The Prevention and Complementary Treatment of Breast Cancer (1996), by Dr. med. Michael Schacter (of the Schacter Center for Complimentary Medicine), and The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart (1996), by Mary and John A. McDougall, claim that bras block lymphatic drainage and therefore preventing toxins from leaving the body which therefore can lead to cancer. This is is wrong based on existing data, both for standard and underwire bras. Of course, our favorite Gwyneth Paltrow promoted this myth and other pseudoscience as well.
“”A bra will hold up your breasts to give you the shape and look you want, but it can’t prevent further sagging, which is caused by age and gravity.
Despite dating as far back as the ancient Romans, the common belief that ptosis (breasts sagging) can be prevented with bra use is not supported by any scientific evidence; the only exception to this is sports bras. Breast ptosis is a natural aging process that is caused by a loss of skin elasticity, gravity, and intensive exercise; sports bras slow down ptosis because they reduce the stress and movement on breasts by limiting movement.
Contrary to previous belief, a study demonstrates that compression sports bra are less effective than encapsulation sports bras, bras that are specially molded for the individual. Compression sports bras reduce movement in one plane while encapsulation sports bras reduce it in three.
Bras are widely used in modern day with the belief of providing comfort and support; however, wearing a bra can be uncomfortable, can irritate the shoulder and back skin (shoulder straps and bra hooks on the back can rub against the skin), and cause shoulder pain. Widespread bra usage is out of the false assumption of necessity because of social and advertising pressures. Bras have no medical purpose whatsoever, their sole purpose being comfort for the individual, and according to a study conducted by Jean-Denis Rouillon on three hundred woman, it's not even necessary for that:
[W]omen who didn't wear bras eventually developed muscles in their chest to act as natural support. In the women who wore bras, the support they provided was found to actually PREVENT muscles like these from growing.
It's a common misconception that A, B, C, and D go from smallest breast size to biggest, according to two women that run the blog Big Cup Little Cup:
So you think you know what a D cup looks like? It’s huge, of course, the biggest size they sell, aside from DD, which is just for celebrities and porn stars who have fake boobs.
And C? Well, that’s just on the larger side of average.
B? About a handful, small but just about right.
A? Small, and that’s that.
AA? Non existent.
NOPE, AFRAID NOT.
Feminist bra burning
The bra burning feminist of the 70s is prevalent in pop culture; however, they don't really exist. The misconception was started in the late 60s by misleading newspapers. The reality is, however, that women threw items, including bras, in a trash can.
- Bras and Breast Cancer American Cancer Society
- Olson, "The Appearance of the Young Roman Girl," p. 143.
- "The 'Purpose' of the Bra" By Ken L. Smith Updated July 2015 http://breastnotes.com/aware/aware-bra.htm
- Scurr, Joanna C.; White, Jennifer L.; Hedger, Wendy (2010). "The effect of breast support on the kinematics of the breast during the running gait cycle". Journal of Sports Sciences 28 (10): 1103–9. PMID 20686995. Lay summary – ScienceDaily (September 23, 2007).
- "Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book" by Susan M. Love, M.D.
- "The Complete Book Of Breast Care" by Niels H. Lauersen, M.D., Ph.D., & Eileen Stukane
- Big Cup Little Cup: UK Lingerie Blog, Warning: blog contains a lot of women in bras and panties, don't click.