First things first: I think everyone should read Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre. A healthy skepticism about ‘scientific’ studies is good for you, and would make the world a much more rational place. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in three years of boob blogging, it’s that when it comes to the media your study doesn’t have to be watertight to be Big News.
So Big News indeed it seems to be: French Researcher Prof. Jean-Denis Rouillon (with the caveat that “the women involved were not a representative sample of the population” – so please, have that pinch of salt at the ready) suggests that not wearing a bra improves firmness, perkiness and other very scientific words, up to a difference of 7mm lift for each year a bra wasn’t worn – validating his hypothesis that bras are a ‘false need’, and cause more sagging than they prevent.
Interesting choice of phrase there. Personally, I actually do believe that wearing bras is a choice rather than a need. Let’s be real, it’s not a totally free choice – but it’s definitely not one made purely on the grounds of fighting sag. Certainly in Western society there is a degree of expectation, and not wearing a bra can be an obstacle to general eye contact and respect in the workplace. Liberated nipples can chafe (ow). And for those of us with more than a handful, a (properly fitted) bra is nothing short of life-changing: it’s the difference between a sedentary life filled with self-consciousness and discomfort and an active one filled with trampolines (and other activities.) As G-Cup, sagging is way low down my ‘reasons to wear a bra’ list. Apart from the fact that – shocker – I love lingerie and the way it looks, in truth I’m just thankful I can make it out of my house without knocking myself out.
That said, on the bra vs no bra sag vs no sag debate, I’m a believer in the (well fitted) bra. I’ve had boobs for half of my life now, and they’ve been this size for well over a decade. Over time my laughter lines have deepened and my metabolism has slowed to a much more unforgiving-of-Cheetos level, but my boobs are about as perky as they’ve ever been. I’m not sure I’d be in the same state if I’d continued with slack banded E-cups squishing my boobs down and back in to my body. Or if I’d spent the same two years I have in a city of bicycles and staircases without any support at all. But who knows?
In my extremely unscientific study of one, I can’t help thinking that my ‘perkiness’ is more likely to be a product of never having breastfed, or ever experienced any significant weight fluctuations. And perhaps even, wearing a properly fitted bra from a young age too (I’m not sure if fit was a factor in his study – but I suspect it wasn’t…). Every busty girl who has found her way to a perfect fit knows that the back and posture problems he references are only usually side effects of terribly fitted bras – and can be banished easily with some sizing adjustments.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t worry about the study or your sagging and just do what makes you feel happy and comfortable. Wearing a bra should be a choice, and it’s one I’ve been happy to make. That our bodies will change with age is inevitable, and even a more robust study proving a connection between sagging and lingerie would be an irrelevance to me: I know there is no point of vanity alone that would persuade me out of my G-cups. I couldn’t trade this freedom my lingerie gives me for anything.
What do you think: would you go braless? Could you?