The bra: necessity or social convention?

The subject of multiple debates on its usefulness and its meaning in contemporary society, the bra has gone from a symbol of sensuality to that of liberation. But is it really necessary for women’s health or is it just a social convention imposed by culture and the fashion industry?

Patented in 1904 by the American Mary PhelpsJacob he support It has known all its versions, truly becoming a cultural symbol, which has represented the figure of women over the years. Crossing different fashions and styles, the use of this intimate garment has continued. Of an ideal of beauty with a voluminous bust accompanied by arm pumps to a flatter style represented by the bralettes .

The bra has been the subject of multiple debates on its usefulness and its meaning in contemporary society, going from a symbol of sensuality to that of liberation. However, one question remains unanswered. Is this really necessary for women’s health or is it just a social convention imposed by culture and the fashion industry?

Medical Perspective: Benefits and Myths

The plastic surgeon, Jose Tomas Gantz , claims that the use of a bra is not associated with any breast disease, including cancer, and thus debunks one of the most common myths about this garment. However, it highlights the importance of its correct use during certain steps. “In general medical terms, whether or not to wear a bra would make no difference, although there are exceptions such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, playing sports and after breast surgery,” explains he.

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Fernanda Garrido pediatric endocrinologist at the Clínica Universidad de los Andes, presents a vision of the field of women’s health, emphasizing that, although there is not enough medical evidence to support its widespread use in terms of health benefits, The bra can be beneficial in reducing movement and discomfort in women with larger breasts. The doctor emphasizes the need for a good fit of the bra and the choice of materials that do not irritate the skin to avoid discomfort and possible allergies. Thus, he recommends prioritizing comfort over aesthetics. “Basically, the bra should be a “bra,” as the name suggests. So, for proper use, it must completely cover the breast, especially in the lateral and lower part,” he recommends.

According to study Professional Bra Fit Criteria Assessment For bra selection and fitting in the UK, between 70 and 100% of women do not know their bra size. Given this, the surgeon emphasizes the need for adequate measurement to choose the right one, as well as the importance of adjusting the garment as the body evolves over time, whether due to changes in weight , breastfeeding or aging. Both experts agree that it is important that the bra is level in the front and back and fits snugly at the first clasp. This allows adjustments to be made as the garment wears over time to maintain firm support. In addition, it is recommended to choose models with wide straps, centered at the nipple level for better support, avoiding seams or lace that rub this sensitive area of ​​the chest.

José Tomás Gantz debunks the myth that wearing a bra prevents sagging of the mammary gland, emphasizing that it is a natural process linked to aging. While a bra can help maintain skin elasticity, it won’t completely stop sagging over time. However, Dr. Garrido says it can help to some extent. “I’m not saying the bra prevents it, but somehow keeping the skin as tight as possible does less damage to the Cooper’s ligaments, which are responsible for supporting the chest. At the same time, it damages the skin less, prevents the appearance of stretch marks and, in theory, should also reduce sagging of the breasts,” he reports.

Cultural and gender perspective: meaning and evolution

The bra: necessity or social convention?

Ingrid Bachmann He is a doctor of periodism and a specialist in feminist theories and addresses the theme of society from a social and general perspective that this subject is loaded with symbolic significance and that it influences the perception of femininity and the standards of beauty imposed by society. over the years.It’s a very cultural product, very marked. Because of this, it has been sexualized and depicted in all kinds of things, from Jean-Paul Gaultier’s perfume, which very clearly defines what a body should look like, to fashion icons like Madonna and Katy Perry. he illustrates.

The use of a bra has a cultural impact that seeks to define what a female figure should look like. “There is research to highlight certain attributes, through bras with or without padding, with or without lace. Obviously, this goes beyond comfort or adequate support,” explains Ingrid Bachmann. “There is a desire to regulate and control bodies, as well as selling you that you are not perfect and that you need to be perfect. The breasts must be of a certain proportion, a certain size, they cannot sag and the nipple must not be visible,” he adds.

The coordinator of the Network of Feminist Historians, Romané Landaeta, is of the same opinion. “If we look at photographs from the 20th century, we see that everything relating to the feminine intimacy of the body is very rigid, like orthopedics. The body must be straightened to fit into a corset, a bra, tights or a heel. In this whole story of beauty, it was said that to be beautiful, you had to see stars, eat less, walk little, talk little, that is to say extremely restrictive for women. “It’s like we have something to fix from the moment we’re born and we’re not enough as we are,” she reflects.

“There The perception of the bra as an intimate element changes according to the notions we have of the female body in patriarchal societies. It is understood as one body for another, a hegemonic masculinity most of the time, such that the use of such an intimate and personal garment is a function of others, in addition to a market that generates income important”, recognizes the historian, feminist.

Bachmann explains that it was only after the 1960s movement in the United States that women began to free themselves from oppression. through bra burning, the birth control pill and the miniskirt. A greater appreciation of comfort and individuality is beginning to be recognized, as well as a questioning of conventional beauty standards. Romané Landaeta affirms that we can see the evolution of this process today, mainly through young people who question the orthopedic way in which we live, in addition, “in the last steps of the 8M, the girls parade without a bra, they carry them on their heads or use them as flags,” he says. “The bra becomes a much softer and more comfortable garment. Women understand that our bodies are okay the way they are, that it is enough, that we are enough.

Necessity or social convention?

Wearing a bra is a personal choice that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including medical, cultural and sexual. While it can provide benefits in terms of support and comfort, its use is also marked by social conventions and imposed beauty standards.

“I think it’s quite a vicious circle which, originally, was considered a necessity, and which has become normalized to the point that we have very integrated it, very established,” explains Ingrid Bachmann. “We start from the principle that there is only one way to be and to do. And it’s not entirely like that, there are different realities, but many of these experiences are already institutionalized and perpetuated by different social spaces, including the media,” he emphasizes.

Surgeon José Tomás Gantz shares this view, but remains firm that a bra is a necessity in certain circumstances, especially when playing sports. “The sports bra is crucial to prevent the rebound of the mammary gland during physical activity and constitutes the best example of good use of the bra, it is the “workhorse” of comfort of the women.”

Fernanda Garrido believes that the use of a bra is a social convention to the extent that when the breast pimple appears, probably no mother asks her daughter whether or not she wants to wear a bra, but rather she simply buys him his first bib. . Then, like many things, it becomes a habit through repetition. “Although I find that women are starting to question more and more whether things are a convention or a choice and that most women wear bras, fundamentally, because it’s a comfort. It’s good to talk about the bra as another element of a woman’s wardrobe, without giving it a sexual or other connotation,” he concludes.

“It continues to be a social convention because of the amount of profit that breasts bring in in the erotic and commercial sphere. But it is increasingly established among women that the bra is made for them and for their own comfort,” says Romané Landaeta. “What is relevant today is that the clothing adapts to our body and not that the body adapts to the clothing. We must have the freedom to choose what makes us most comfortable, whether with or without a bra,” he says.

Source: Latercera

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