How many times have we seen articles about how 70% of women are wearing THE WRONG BRA? Answer: A LOT. If you haven’t, you can start here and here and here and here. One brand decided to up the percentage for maximum stern effect:
How can this be? Let’s break this down.
- Women want bras that feel supportive and comfortable and look the way they want them to.
- Women spend time and money and effort shopping for bras, which come in a variety of non-standard sizes, shapes, materials and structures.
- But 70–80-85% of them get it wrong. They’re walking around in the wrong bra size.
Yeah, that’s about it. We’re wrong. Our bras are wrong. Our bra sizes are wrong.
Maybe wearing the wrong size bra is even bad for our health:
So where did this myth about women not understanding/appreciating/accessing the correct bra come from?
This New York Times article hunted down the source:
One man, the plastic surgeon Edward Pechter, gets credit for it.
Dr. Pechter first published the statistic in small 1998 study, writing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery that 70 percent of women or more were wearing the incorrect bra size. The article outlined a new method for measuring breasts, with which he hoped to standardize sizing for augmentation and reduction surgeries.
But Dr. Pechter didn’t reach his estimate through surveying a large and diverse sample. Instead he used anecdotal evidence from publications like Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal and the Playtex Fit Guide. (He also studied only women who reported wearing cup sizes AA through DDD. Today you can find bras in sizes up to an O cup.)
But it is true that good-fitting and comfortable and supportive bras are hard to find. Ask many women (me, for example) and they will tell you about spending loads of money on expensive bras that were uncomfortable, unsupportive and just not wearable. The NY Times article identifies several problems:
- There aren’t any industry size standards for bras
- Women’s breast sizes fluctuate over time and cyclically, during pregnancy, etc.
- Women whose breast sizes are outside the standard cookie-cutter sizes have more trouble because of variations in bra design
- Maintaining a steady supply of well-fitting bras requires advanced tape measure proficiency and twice-annually reassessment, followed by more bra shopping
Women do have more buying options now. We are being deluged with ads from newer bra companies on social media. But once again, women are being told they have to shoulder the burden of more labor just to be able to go out the door in decent chest shape and comfort and appearance. More shopping. More returning. More trying on. More outlay of money. More attention and fuss to manage a part of us that is not weird or troublesome or surprising to anyone– it’s just our breasts.
Okay. I’ll check out loads of bra types, research and calculate my sister sizes and carry a tape measure in my bag, always at the ready should my breast sizes change suddenly.
But stop telling me it’s my fault. It’s not me, it’s you, bra industry.
Readers, any good bra/bad bra stories you want to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.