There’s a ton of really bad information online about bras. (I mean, there’s bad information online about virtually any topic, so who’s surprised?) The claim that bras cause or exacerbate breast sagging sometimes turns up in ads for “alternative” bra styles, such as adhesive bras. This is doubly nonsensical, because if breasts not having to support themselves against gravity actually did lead to worsening droop over time, wearing an adhesive bra would have the exact same effect as a traditional bra!
Fortunately, this whole premise is bunk. It’s based on the supposed conclusions of a never-published 2013 study conducted by a professor- not a doctor- at the small French University of Besançon. This professor, Jean-Denis Rouillon, lists his professional field as “sports medicine,” a dubious qualification for administering boob research. (I’m also vaguely amused that this ad chose to misleadingly portray an authoritative-looking woman in a lab coat, rather than the male professor in question.) Several years ago, Jean-Denis Rouillon gave a series of interviews describing his research, in which he used a slide rule and calipers to measure the breast anatomy of 320 women, ages 18 to 35, over a 15-year period. While acknowledging that this was not a representative population sample, he claimed that “women who never wore bras had nipples on average seven millimeters higher in relation to their shoulders each year than regular bra users” and attributes this to deteriorating muscle quality in the bra-wearers. Is there any merit to his conclusions? Unlikely, given the relatively limited role of muscle in breast composition, but the study was never published, so there’s not even any actual data to critique. In light of this total lack of scientific credibility, it’s sad to see this “study” quoted all over the internet, in posts and articles with titles like “Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Bra, According To Science” on the IFL Science website, Live Science, Medical News Today, etc.
Now, just because bras don’t *cause* breasts to sag, that doesn’t mean that they *prevent* breast droop either. Actual studies have repeatedly shown that there is no direct relationship between the choice to wear or forego a bra and the loss of breast firmness and elasticity over time. The real relevant factors are age, genetics, number of pregnancies, other breast size changes (such as with weight gain/loss,) body composition, and potentially certain other health factors like smoking. In the past, many women were told that bra-wearing was necessary to prevent breast droop later in life, but this has more to do with social pressure than actual medical reality.
The choice of whether or not to wear a bra is a personal one, and obviously involves many more factors on the individual level than just sag anxiety. Note that it *is* possible to strain or damage the Cooper’s ligaments that help maintain structural integrity in the breasts. This is more traumatic injury than aesthetic nuisance, though, and can be caused by vigorous exercise or jarring motions with unsupported (and especially heavy) breasts. There’s really no one-size-fits-all advice for the boob-having portion of the population, though, because we all differ so much physically. Just don’t let anyone convince you that your bra-related choices will automatically impact your future breast elevation. While you’re at it, if someone questions your pro- or anti-bra habits, remind that person that the perkiness of your bust doesn’t determine your worth, and that they should really commence minding their own business. 😉