Bra vs. no bra: experts weigh in on the great boob debate


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As someone who’s had big boobs since puberty, the idea of spending most of my time in a non-underwire bra sounds like torture. But every once in a while I find myself sucked into a pretty repetitive dinner conversation with my friends.

The argument usually goes something like this—someone insists that you need to wear a bra to combat what gravity is doing to your boobs i.e. sagging them down and stretching the skin. The other side asserts that you need to let your girls breathe—how else can you treat your boobs to regular massages or enjoy a breast orgasm? But what I really want to know is: Am I doing more harm than good by insisting on wearing a bra most of the time?

In a word: No. There isn’t a medical or health-related downside to wearing or not wearing a bra according to plastic surgeon Neil Zemmel, MD, a contributing medical expert at Zwivel. But there are factors that should be considered before deciding to forgo the undergarment. “Overall breast shape is a complex equation that consists of the quality of a woman’s skin, the amount of breast tissue, the distribution of breast tissue, the footprint of her breast on her chest, the shape of her rib cage, the position and shape of her nipple and areola, and her overall height and weight,” says Dr. Zemmel.

All of the above changes over time he adds. And Lyn Lewis, CEO of the lingerie line Journelle, agrees. “It’s natural,” she says. “Some wonderful things, like motherhood and getting to enjoy a long and active life, mean that our breasts will change (and yes, ‘sag’) as we get older.”

Therefore, physics and gravity are real factors that come in to play in the bra vs no bra debate. “A supportive bra holds up heavy breast tissue through the snug band and straps,” explains Lewis. “Without a bra (or without one that fits correctly and is well made) the weight of the breast tissue pulls downward on the body and skin. Over time this adds up.” She suggests a simple test if you’re figuring out what team to be on. The next time you’re running down the stairs or sprinting to catch the subway, if you do (or have the urge to) hold your boobs down, then wearing a supportive bra, she says, is a good idea for your girls purely from a comfort perspective.

Generally speaking, though, whether you should wear a bra or not comes down to personal preferences. So if your preferred state of existence is completely free or with a low-impact bralette, more power to you. In the meantime, I’ll be strapped in with all of the support an undergarment can possibly muster.

If you’re looking for support try this surprisingly comfortable strapless bralette or one of these ingenious sports bras.

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