Are bras bad for you?

The Week
Time to ditch the 'ol over-the-shoulder boulder holder?
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Time to ditch the 'ol over-the-shoulder boulder holder?

A new study from France says "oui"

Is it time to burn that bra? To the delight of adolescent boys across the globe, new research from France suggests that women would benefit from ditching the undergarment and going au naturel all the time. Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, a specialist in sports medicine at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Bensacon, recently published a study saying that women gained no health or shape advantage by wearing a bra. If anything, bras brought them down. Literally.

Over 15 years, Rouillon used a slide rule and calipers to measure the breasts of more than 300 female volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35. He found that women who did not wear a bra had an average 7 millimeter lift — in relation to their shoulders as measured from their nipples — over a given year. Moreover, their breasts were firmer and stretch marks were more likely to fade. "Medically, physiologically, anatomically — breasts get no benefit from being denied gravity," Rouillon tells France Info radio. "On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra."

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But don't torch your Victoria's Secrets products quite yet. As Caity Weaver at Gawker notes, Rouillon makes it clear that "a bouncing braless existence isn't for everyone."

Rouillon cautions that his study is preliminary and that it would be "dangerous" for all women to stop wearing bras. He admits his sample size still isn't large enough to be conclusive, and since his volunteers were ages 18 to 35, he can't speak for older women. In fact, in an inadvertently uncouth way, he says, "An overweight, 45-year-old woman with three kids has no business not wearing a bra." Ouch. So, essentially, as Weaver puts it, Rouillon means "Don't wear a bra (HOT LADIES ONLY)."

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Another issue: Even if science is ready for women to let loose, the rest of society isn't as progressive. A recent study showed that women who don't wear a bra to work are judged as less likely to become executives by colleagues of both sexes. Moreover, it's hard to fight the social implications of jettisoning an undergarment with 600 years of history in the Western world. So let's be honest: While some cleavage is sexy and showing more and more of it is increasingly deemed appropriate, we're not quite ready to see it all hang out… yet.

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