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Should You Wear a Brassier?

Cosmetic fashions have consequences

A brassiere or bra is an item of women’s clothing that began life simply as a piece of cloth that restrained the breasts.  With development over the generations the bra developed into the garment we know today consisting of two cups that totally or partially cover or support the breasts.

A Brief Ancient History of the Bra

Minoan palace scene from an old book about ancient civilizations. Larger image

The Minoan Women of Crete used a form of bra to support the breasts for physical activity, but they also cut clothing to lift, expose and display their bare breasts during day to day life as breasts were considered symbolic of fertility and womanhood.

There are allusions to women who have bound their breasts with cloth to suppress the bounce during physical activity and one Amazonian women reportedly cut off one breast as it interfered with her ability to use her bow in battle.

During the centuries, women have experimented with clothing in response to the fact that big breasts are in fact heavy and following the renaissance ‘the body as art’ inspired people to use clothing to stylise the body toward a desired shape.

Through until the 1920’s few women wore bra’s and no one cared as breasts would not become ‘sexualised” for another thirty years.  But clever advertising and peer pressure soon had women in their millions wearing a bra and the product became more refined.

Well to do Egyptian girls from a period now gone

Modern history
The modern bra was invented by an engineer of German extraction called Onto Titzling in 1912 and western women quickly accepted it as with the flourishing of industry, the bra was affordable. For the bra manufacturers, this was boom time. The population was growing along with the power of advertising as a tool of social engineering.  The acceptance of its use was also aided by the Victorian ethic that the body is somehow sinful and needed to be suppressed or concealed.

Our attitude towards our bodies is a subject worthy of more discussion including the idea that in a patriarchal society, covering one’s women helps to preserve the social status of the dominant males. Women have always been seen as the lesser of our species since the beginning of the agricultural era some 20,000 years ago.

In the 1960’s the bra was recognised as a symbol of male oppression and millions of women abandoned wearing bra’s for a time and took a more natural approach to breast care because they didn’t need the support, their breasts did not always sag with childbirth or age.

Throughout history women have lived happily without a bra and while the lift provided by a bra can provide support or a more youthful or sexy appearance, a bra is no guarantee that breasts will not sag or disfigure.

Popular Myths:

This shelf bra is designed for lift and displaying the breasts and while it may seem provocative, it is actually a good choice as a casual wear garment as it provides good support and and some movement by not squashing the breasts.

  1. Wearing a bra prevents breast sag – not true;
    Breast sag relates to posture and genetics which no bra can prevent,  there is no evidence to support this theory but it certainly helps the bra manufacturers to make a profit.
    Once a woman regularly begins to wear a supportive bra, the muscles that naturally support the breasts weaken over time resulting in exaggerated sagging or disfigurement of the breasts if a bra is not worn.
  2. A bra offers support – true;
    women with large breasts do find that a good bra does help support the weight of the breasts and makes life more comfortable while a bra is also supportive during strenuous aerobic activity to hold the breasts against the chest and limit the bounce effect.
  3. Wearing a bra prevents breast cancer – not true;
    The restriction in circulation means that wearing a bra  in fact a bra is more likely to cause cancer. (Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras).
  4. Wearing a bra makes you more sexy – maybe true:
    breasts are rarely the same size, a bra creates the illusion of balance as well as lift.

The bra has come a long way in history.  In Victorian Europe it was fashionable to have the breasts overflowing, and today the modern range of bra’s provide many options from the sports bra to the lift up bra and wearing one has become part of a new cultural tradition creating a lifetime expense and routine although not a bra is not necessarily good for the health of your breasts as an ill-fitting bra can:

  • restrict circulation
  • misalign the spine
  • cause pain in the upper back, neck, shoulders and arms
  • cause headaches, breast pain and annoyance as the bra band inches up on the back
  • cause breathing problems
  • cause skin abrasions or infections under the breast
  • ride up in the back
  • look wrinkly through outer clothing
In this image we can see that the breasts are slightly flattened and pulled down, but while providing support to keep them still, this bra will accentuate sagging.

In this image we can see that the breasts are slightly flattened and pulled down. It provides support to keep them still but this bra will accentuate sagging.


In essence, the bra is a novelty garment used primarily to create illusions of size, sexiness and uniformity.  Unfortunately when the bra comes off, the illusion is revealed and the fraud exposed.

For medium to large breasted women, a well-fitting brassiere provides support transferring some of the breast weight from the chest to the shoulders, and does make life more comfortable although it may also weaken the upper body.

For the small to average breasted woman, there is no evidence to support any need to wear a bra, rather it is the fashion industry and moralists who argue that woman’s breasts must be bound by dictating that women wear a bra today.

If you are a woman reading here,  grandmothers world wide recommend that while you may be coerced into wearing a bra for work and pleasure, take it off in the privacy of your own home and never ever sleep with a bra on.  Think twice as you dress!

This video was suggested by a reader so just had to post it…. 🙂

Further reading:
Our bodies and ourselves
Ancient Minoan Dress

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2 comments to Should You Wear a Brassier?

  • johanna

    Opinions are divided in many ways on this topic but as a girl with 36 triple D’s and pointy nipples, most social occasions demand a bra even though I find them uncomfortable. Thankfully my friends know me well enough that I can spend a lot of time bra less and I used to think that all those guys smiling when I walked by with my boobs quivering like jellies or just permits into low bed a few of the girls similarly disposed to occasionally going out without a bra. It didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion being bra less in public was great, sexy and somehow liberating because I could do it and now I’m starting to appreciate that all those guys who look and smile, it just makes them happy and hopefully they go home to their women and appreciate them.

  • dianna reeves

    I enjoy the freedom of being braless and understand the science, but the attitudes of some of my female acquaintances is a pain. Women should be supporting each other and not criticizing.

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