Why We Wear Bras Without Even Considering Whether We Need Them

Written by Indrani Karmakar  • 

To wear, or not to wear a bra, is a question that fogs our mind every day when we get dressed . Of course, you want to look comfortable and shapely for the day, but it’s almost impossible to ignore the long list of downsides to wearing a bra. Starting from whether your strap is showing, to if your breasts are spilling from the top of your bra, the list is almost never-ending. Maybe this is why every woman can relate to the bliss of removing and throwing the bra away after a long day. But did you ever wonder what it was like before bra was invented? How comfortable or uncomfortable was it then? Well, here in this article are some facts about bras including their history, why it was a socially accepted clothing, and what happens if you discard bras from your wardrobe once and for all. Read on to know them all!

When Did Women Start Wearing Bras?

When Did Women Start Wearing Bras
Image: Shutterstock

In ancient Greece, women wore breast bands that were often joined at the back. This may have been the earliest form of the modern bra. Breast-bands were common athletic gear for Roman women. Girls in Medieval Spain flattened their chests by wearing lead plates. And in France in 1370, a rule was passed mandating that women wear garments with built-in bras to support their breasts. Corsets, of course, were all the rage in that era as well. When the 19th century came to a close, medical professionals began to publicly protest the use of corsets. Suffragists who were fighting for women’s rights agreed with this view since corsets severely restricted women’s range of motion and contributed to their struggle for equality.

The first modern-day bras probably arose in the mid-1800s, however, there are competing claims as to who invented them. Some claim that a French woman called Herminie Cadolle created them. She supposedly developed a two-part corset, and the upper half was designed specifically for the breasts. Caresse Crosby, another historical figure, allegedly improvised a bra out of bandanas and ribbons in the wake of a corset malfunction on the eve of her debutante ball. Yet, they may have just taken the concept from the 15th century, when a bra from the Lengberg Castle in Austria was discovered.

When Did Wearing A Bra Become A Social Norm?

When Did Wearing A Bra Become A Social Norm
Image: Shutterstock

Protests against the Miss America pageant in 1968 were so remarkable because women were tossing away their makeup, high heels, and bras as a form of protest. Some people think that bras are just another example of how women’s bodies are manipulated to meet the ideals of beauty prevalent throughout time. This is also the rationale for the development of corsets.

Is It Medically Necessary To Wear A Bra?

Is It Medically Necessary To Wear A Bra
Image: Shutterstock

There are currently no studies that conclusively state whether or not women should wear a bra. The appropriate and wrong types of bras are perennial topics of research. Women, however, typically choose affordable, fashionable, and comfy bras. But, many women are unsure of how to choose the most suitable bra for their bodies. Around 25% of women had asymmetric breasts, and of course, designers can’t do anything about it. There is no hard evidence that your breasts will sag if you quit wearing a bra, but that doesn’t stop the widespread belief that it will. Genetics, hormones, and age are the real culprits in breast sagging. While experts believe that middle-aged women don’t notice much of a distinction whether they wear a bra or not, they do agree that heavier women may experience significantly more sagging. One research, however, suggested that women would see an improvement in their breast health if they were dispensed with bras together, as doing so would prevent the tendons & muscles from resting and the breasts from becoming less firm.

Using the incorrect bra may be to blame for the neck, back, & shoulder pain that many women who have big breasts experience. Furthermore, a bra’s improper form might aggravate existing breast issues. Women with large breasts may get relief from back discomfort if they find the correct bra.

The idea that breast cancer is caused by women continuing to wear bras is a common urban legend. Obesity is a possible risk factor for breast cancer, however, there is no evidence that bras cause the disease.

Another thing you should know is, you shouldn’t use a bra that’s past its use-by date. Moreover, bras don’t have a particularly long life expectancy. It has been determined that after 8 months of regular use (that is, wearing the bra at most once a week), one should replace it. The problem is that with time, bras lose their shape and support capabilities. So, now that you know how and why bras came to be a socially acceptable piece of clothing, and why it has been pushed from generation to generation, you can decide for yourself if you need one! So, do you think bras should be eliminated from being a compulsory piece of clothing? Let us know in the comments section!


  1. Bra wearing not associated with breast cancer risk: a population based case-control study, NCBI
  2. Breast Education Improves Adolescent Girls’ Breast Knowledge, Attitudes to Breasts and Engagement With Positive Breast Habits, NCBI
  3. Breast cancer development and progression: Risk factors, cancer stem cells, signaling pathways, genomics, and molecular pathogenesis, NCBI
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