For this third installment of Body Talk for Day 6 of my #BlogsforWomen challenge, I want to talk about breast health.
Last January, at the beginning of 2016, I had an interesting experience that prompted me to stop wearing bras and opt for unpadded, no underwire bralettes instead. For about 3-4 month prior to this decision, I had been experiencing pain and tenderness underneath my breast, where the unwire of my bra was. It felt like a bruise or like I was applying constant pressure to the area. It was extremely uncomfortable and, honestly, it had me a little worried.
I thought at first it was because of a new bra I was wearing. I continued to alternate between a few different bras, all different brands, but the pain didn’t stop. Finally, I did some research. The area right below your breast is full of glands and lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small structures that work as filters for harmful substances. They contain immune cells that can help fight infection by attacking and destroying germs that are carried in through the lymph fluid. They are there to allow the body to detox when it needs to. You have different types of lymphs all over your body.
But there are quite a few in the breast area, from under the breast, in the breast itself and up to the armpit. According to LymphWorks, therapist, C.J. McDaniel has observed stagnant lymph vessels, re-routing lymph, lymph enlargement and swollen glands in her patients at exactly the areas where bra elastic tightens and squeezes.
She says, “Without a doubt, we do see breast lymph congestion and connective tissue restrictions exactly where the bra line hits and above and below the breast including the armpits. Bras cross major lymph vessel pathways and may act like a tourniquet.”
There was also a 15-year study that concluded in 2013 in France that sought out to see if bras were actually healthy for women and if they really did prevent sagging and stretching of the skin, like most of us were taught bras were for.
The findings suggested that wearing a bra from an early age did nothing to help support the chest, reduce back pain or prevent breast sagging. “Medically, physiologically, anatomically – breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity. On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra,” said Sports science researcher Jean-Denis Rouillon
According to the research, they believe that “young women would gain more tone and supporting breast tissue if no bra were used. In the study, women that stopped wearing bras – through choice, not as a requirement of the study – had a 7-millimeter (0.3-inch) lift in their nipples when compared with regular bra users. Bras, they claim, could hamper circulation and reduce breast tone over time.”
This information fascinated me. I had never thought about all this before. I had been taught by my mother to take my bra off before going to bed to allow circulation. But I never thought that I could be stopping natural bodily functions by wearing a bra for the majority of the day.
I decided to try only wearing bralettes and see if I felt a difference.
Within a day or two, I didn’t experience any pain at all. And it felt really good to not be so constricted all day too.
At first, I felt a little funny, as I was very aware of the fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra and I assumed others would notice too. But then I thought, So what? This is what my body looks like. Why have I been conditioned to hid it?
Most girls, when they begin puberty and develop breast, are told to wear a bra. It will keep you supported and it will make the shape of your boobs round and thus more attractive. That is how I always looked at it. My breasts looked bigger when I wore a bra, therefore, I always wore one.
But I found that after going a few days without a traditional bra, I felt extremely adverse to the idea of going back to a padded underwire one. So I just didn’t.
I haven’t experienced any pain since going bra-less and I fully intend to stay that way. I actually really love this bra-less lifestyle.
I’m writing this to not only share my story but to remind every woman that their health is a priority. Above fashion and above popular opinion.
Let me know what you think in the comments! I would love to hear from you 🙂