Following the launch of an advertising campaign by Canadian bra boutique, The Boobie Trap, which highlights unsightly problems caused by wearing an ill-fitting bra, the British Osteopathic Association is launching a campaign of its own to warn of the potential health problems that can arise from wearing ill-fitting bras.
Joanna Cram from the British Osteopathic Association says: "Badly fitting bras that don't fit properly aren't just uncomfortable. For example, if the under-band of the bra does not support the weight of the breasts then the shoulders do. This causes the shoulders to droop and as a natural consequence the breasts droop too."
But the problem is not just a cosmetic one. She adds: "When shoulders compensate for lack of bra support, effectively carrying the weight of a woman's breasts, the spine can become curved, the tops of the shoulders hunched and the upper ribs become compressed.
"This change in posture can be obvious or very slight but can have negative health implications that are seemingly unrelated to whether a bra fits properly. For example, compressed ribs affect the respiratory system which can result in breathing problems and an unsupported under-band can cause postural problems."
"Further, an ill fitting bra can restrict the blood flow potentially causing mastitis and local tissue scarring."
The campaign suggests how to spot the tell-tale signs your bra is the wrong size:
- There are red marks under the shoulder straps or indentation marks on the shoulders. The marks indicate that the back of the bra is too big and that the ribcage is not supporting the weight of the breasts
- The back of the bra should be horizontal from the front of the chest rather than rising up at the back
- The front of the bra should fit the sternum firmly
- If you have flesh spilling out from sides or top of the bra cup (known as the quadraboob) - the bra cup should snugly enclose the breast
- If the wires dig in the cup size is too small.
According to bigger boob experts, Bravissimo nearly 80% of women wear the wrong bra size. The most common mistake is wearing a cup size that is too small and a back size that is too big. The retailer has found that at least 6 out of 10 women who currently wear a C cup should actually be wearing at least a D cup. Wearing a too small cup size is one of the problems that can result in the appearance of a 'quadraboob'.
Bravissimo don't use tape measures because they don't believe they work. Instead they focus on what a well fitting bra looks and feels like so women can tell in a matter of seconds whether they've got a good fit.
The Bravissimo 3-step check for the perfect fitting bra:
- The strap around your body should be firm but comfortable. When you stand side-on at a mirror, the strap that runs around your body should be horizontal and should not ride up at the back at all.
- The wires at the front should lie flat against your rib cage and should not dig in, rub or poke out at the front.
- Your breasts should be enclosed in the cups and you should have a smooth line where the fabric at the top of the cup ends and meets your bust. You shouldn't have any ridge or bulging over the top or sides of the cups, even if you are wearing a balconette style or lower cut shape.
Joanna from the British Osteopathic Association concludes: "The most common bad fits are a cup that is too small, and a back of the bra that is too big. These often happen together. Just because a woman was once 34B, doesn't mean she still is. A 34B in one style is not the same as a 34B in another. Further, the breast can increase by two cup sizes during the menstrual cycle and changes hugely during pregnancy and breast-feeding. You try shoes on for fit before buying - do the same with bras."