Padded sports bras and nipple phobia

I know this is a controversial issue among women who run because the minute I whine about the problem of padded sports bras, friends leap to their defense. So I see that other people love them. I, however, do not.

I get that tastes can vary. I don’t like padded anything really. (Bike shorts might be the one exception.) And it’s getting more difficult to find non padded bras of any sort in A and B cup sizes. And then the problem continues because all dresses are now made to fit at least a C cup and when they don’t fit, the answer is the padded bra.

So I get that people like them, and like them they must, since it seems most sports bras now come with padding.

The complaints against the non padded kind are of two sorts, roughly related to breast presentation and size, on the one hand, and nipple visibility on the other.

One woman writes into the forum on bras at Runners World and describes the two flaws with non padded bras saying that they, “1. Squash my breasts so that my breasts are even smaller or so that my breasts merge into one small horizontal lump 2. Exhibit my nipple shape for all to see. I might as well paint on two black circles and arrow signs on my chest with the words “and HERE are my NIPPLES!” when it’s cold outside.”

Here’s one happy padded running bra customer: “While I’d like to say that I went searching for a padded sports bra to get extra coverage, the truth of the matter is when I work out, I’d like to look more like a woman and less like a 12-year- old boy.” (Read more Padded Sports Bra Reviews – Best Padded Sports Bras – Good Housekeeping)

I think I’d be happy to look like a 12 year old boy when I’m running and mostly I don’t think too much about my workout appearance. I like to be sleek and have as little extra material material as possible.

For advice on choosing a good padded sports bra you could do worse than read this advice from the folks at Livestrong.

So let me be very specific here, what I loathe isn’t the existence of padded sports bras, it’s their ubiquity. It’s their domination of the sports bra market. Try finding a non padded sports bra in my size. Oh, and it shouldn’t have an underwire either. Good luck with that and call me when you’ve succeeded.

A friend who works in television suggested a reality tv show, Bra Hunter. They could help me and help the women looking for brown bras, since ‘flesh’ colored bras are decidedly beige. You can read about the Brown Bra Scavenger Hunt here, Not MY Nude — Why I Started the Brown Bra Scavenger Hunt.

Looking around for some guidance and discussion about the whys of the rise in popularity of the padded bra, it turns out the real issue isn’t keeping up with breast-implanted Joneses. Instead, it’s paranoia about nipple visibility.

Nipples are now what VPL, or visible panty lines, used to be to my generation, before thong underwear came into vogue. In The Tyranny of the T-Shirt Bra: Do You Live in Fear of Your Own Nipples? Bonnie Downing writes for the Hairpin:

“Foamy, modern, molded bras have taken over more than their share of the bra market. They seem to insist that if we decline silicone breasts, we should at least have the courtesy to hide our actual breasts under smooth, springy, vaguely breast-like shells….

They continue to encroach, creeping in under new names all the time: Contour Bras for a “sculpted silhouette”; Foam-Lined Bras, defined on the Bare Necessities as the go-to choice for “protection against nipple show through”; Seamless Bras “virtually invisible!” (Like your nipples.) T-shirt Bras for an “ultra-smooth look” (you know by now what that means). Microfiber Bras! They’re all the same bras, really. OneHanesPlace adds Laminated Bras, which they admit are “a lot like Molded-Cup Bras,” which “mimic your body’s contours because the fabric is molded on a cone-shaped form. So, they fit like a second skin… and work with your shape, not against it.””

So I gather what I’m seeing are t-shirt bras, the running version.

Yes, women athletes have nipples–we’re not like Barbie–and when we’re cold or pumped with adrenaline from physical activity, they’re sometimes visible.  Deal with it please.

And when I find a nice non-padded running bra in my size, I think I’ll buy a half dozen and be done with it!

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