Number 1: Your bra can’t train your bust to be perky (sorry).
Some women wear bras because they simply like them. Some feel obligated to wear them, but ditch them the moment they walk through their own front door. Some like their bras so much that they even wear them while they sleep. Others go braless altogether, challenging societal expectations about how their body should appear in public.
Whether or not to wear a bra (and when) is a personal choice, but sometimes people base their decisions on myths about bras that simply aren’t true. Don’t let these myths factor into your decision:
MYTH: Bras prevent boobs from getting saggy over time
Nope: Your bra can’t train your bust to be perky. Thanks to gravity, it’s inevitable that breasts will become more saggy over time—and there’s nothing wrong with that!
For what it’s worth, you can mitigate the appearance of age-related sag by practicing good posture and exercising your pectoral muscles (e.g. pushups and bench press). Bras aside, good posture and strength-training are healthy habits anyway.
MYTH: Wearing bras increases the risk of breast cancer
If you’ve ditched the bra solely out of fear of breast cancer, you don’t need to worry: There’s zero link between bras and breast cancer risk. This myth stemmed from a belief that underwires in the bra trapped lymph fluid and toxins in the breast tissue, with no way to escape—but that’s a chest full of fiction (get it?).
First of all, it doesn’t trap in lymph fluid. Second of all, a 2014 study from American Association for Cancer Research found no association between wearing bras and breast cancer risk, regardless of how long the bra is worn every day, what type of bra is worn, or at what age the individual starts wearing a bra.
MYTH: You should take your bra off while you sleep
You’ve probably heard that it’s “bad for you” to sleep in a bra, but there’s nothing inherently unhealthy about this personal preference. As mentioned above, you could wear your bra 24/7 without increasing your risk of breast cancer.
One caveat: Just make sure your bra is comfortable so it won’t disrupt your sleep. This might mean avoiding bras with uncomfortable underwires or straps that are too tight. However, as long as you’re comfortable, it’s no biggie.
MYTH: Going bra-less will help your bosom blossom
Nope! Your breast size is determined by hormones and genes, and breast size may fluctuate depending on body weight. Whether or not you bear a bra won’t have any effect on size.
Besides, your breast size is just a measurement, and not a marker of your worth. Throughout history, fashion has alternated between idealizing flat and boyish chests (like in the flapper era) and emphasizing the chest with corsets (like in the Victorian era). In other words, it’s all arbitrary, and you might as well love and accept your bosom as it is. (Check out how the “ideal” female body type has evolved over time.)
Moral of the story: Bras won’t help *or* hinder your health. Ditch the bra or don it—it’s up to you!
Breast cancer myths vs. facts. Ardmore, PA: Breastcancer.org, 2019. (Accessed on January 10, 2020 at https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/myths-facts.)
Can bras affect breast growth? Jacksonville, FL: Nemours Foundation. (Accessed on January 10, 2020 at https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/bra-sizes.html?WT.ac=t-ra#catsleep.)
Chen L, Malone KE, Li CI. Bra wearing not associated with breast cancer risk: a population-based case—control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Sep.
Eriksson N, Benton GM, Do CB, et al. Genetic variants associated with breast size also influence breast cancer risk. BMC Med Genet. 2012;13:53.Is it OK to wear a bra while sleeping? Jacksonville, MD: Nemours Foundation. (Accessed on January 10, 2020 at https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/bra-sleep.html?WT.ac=ctg#catsleep.)