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.