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Breasts Weren't Made for Bras
by Lise Cloutier-Steele
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I've often thought that whoever invented the bra had to be a man, because he didn't have to wear one. As a woman who was never able to feel completely comfortable in a bra, and not shy about bringing up the subject in conversation, I've asked dozens of friends and colleagues how they managed to keep their bras on for a full day. I've been asking this of women for years hoping to master this trick, but I haven't yet been let in on the secret.

The women's responses always baffled me. Most claimed that the wired or non-wired contraptions were comfortable while many were quick to recommend a style and the store where I'd find it. I guessed a long time ago that I'd never get the truth. Bras, in my view, are like spiked heels or today's low-rise jeans. Although all are uncomfortable, and unhealthy in the case of high-healed shoes, style and society rules always seem to prevail over comfort and common sense.

breast rescueWhen my mother introduced me to my training bra 39 years ago, part of me was pleased to finally get one so that I could lose the undershirt and avoid further ridicule by my peers. But after I had it on for about an hour, another part of me decided I’d have to find other more ingenious ways to become socially acceptable at school, because wearing a bra wasn’t going to do it for me.

My bra always ended up in my lunch or school bag, and in later years, in my purse. Finally, I gave up on wearing one altogether, opting for the more appropriate camisoles I've been wearing for over 20 years now. And, since recent studies have shown that wearing a bra is not the best thing for breast health, it looks like I've been way ahead of the game for years!

According to one study by Sidney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, bra-wearing is linked to breast cancer. Their study showed that women who wore their bras 24-hours daily (yes, many women wear their bras to bed!) increased their risk of breast cancer by a 113-fold in comparison to those women who wore theirs for 12 hours, or less, each day. Most women believe the myth that breasts need to be properly supported to prevent sagging when we do not have the research to prove the necessity of breast support. In her book Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, Dr. Love writes: "A mistaken popular belief maintains that wearing a bra strengthens your breasts and prevents their eventual sagging. But you sag because of the proportion of fat and tissue in your breasts, and no bra changes that."

Mother GoddessThe bra has been around for about 100 years, and evolved from the corset worn by women of the Renaissance era. Yesterday’s corset was worn to help the woman look more shapely, and to expose her breasts, and today’s bra is equally sexual in nature. Neither was intended to be comfortable, however, the camisole was, and you can find many styles at any department store. Sears camisole by Jessica is my favourite lately. Not only is the camisole more comfortable than a bra, it improves the flow of lymph, which is also essential to good breast health. The camisole's elastic make-up will give you the support you need for everyday wear or working out at the gym, and it will give your breasts a more normal appearance as opposed to the perky look of a teenager's chest. As women grow older, their breasts are supposed to be at a lower position. Somebody should be telling that to the plastic surgeons earning a living at augmenting the breasts of mature women.

breast cancer?  breast health!I'm not saying that all women should burn their bras, but if some of you want to read interesting and practical information on breast health, have a look at these sites. I think you'll find this literature breast liberating!

Breasts and Sagging
More on Bras
Bras and Breast Disease
How to Prevent Breast Cancer

Lise Cloutier-Steele is a communications specialist and a professional writer and editor. She is the author of Living and Learning with a Child Who Stutters, and the recipient of a Canada 125 Award in recognition of a significant contribution to the community and to Canada for her volunteer efforts to help the parents of children who stutter. She is also the author of Misinformed Consent – Women's Stories about Unnecessary Hysterectomy, www.misinformedconsent.com.

 
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