A recent study has found that more than 80 per cent of Australian women wear bras that don't fit them. The weight of 16DD breasts are approximately 600 grams each, which is equivalent to carrying around over a litre of milk on your chest. Without support this sort of weight can lead to back, neck and arm pain, as well as poor posture. It can also prevent women from exercising due to discomfort or self-consciousness.
Yet, the vast majority of women, 16DD or otherwise, don't wear bras that fit. The study by Sports Medicine Australia and the Breast Research Australia (BRA) team found that 88 per cent of teenage girls wear a bra that doesn't fit properly and that 85 per cent failed a simple knowledge test on bras and bra fit.
As a result, women continue to wear ill-fitting bras into their adulthood. A separate study found that 85 per cent of women wear a bra that doesn't fit properly. Despite this 75 per cent of the younger study participants and 67 per cent of the older women surveyed, do not use the bra-fitting services that some bra retailers provide.
Lead researcher and co-author on the study, Dr Deirdre McGhee believes there are numerous reasons for this and embarrassment about baring their breasts and bodies to a stranger is one of them.
"Change rooms are not a pleasant experience for most women," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted her as saying. McGhee also believes the subject of breasts and bras is largely taboo. "I think...women haven't been educated by their mothers, [who] didn't know basic information and so [haven't] passed it down. It's a secretive and awkward [topic]. But, when you talk about it, you open a can of worms and women pour out complaints," she stated.
One of the most common is that bras are uncomfortable and that women can't wait to get home so they can take it off. "Women don't have expectations that bras should be comfortable. [In the study] they weren't aware or didn't perceive discomfort as a problem," she stated.
But bras should be comfortable, she insisted. "It has to fit like a glove. The best bra in the world is no good if it doesn't fit," she claimed.
To help women find a bra that fits properly, BRA and Sports Medicine Australia have collaborated to develop a free bra-fitting guide. McGhee stresses it's important to remember that sizes are not standardised in Australia so women are unlikely to be the same size in every brand. Even in the same brand, a woman's bra size can vary along with style and colour of the bra.
"Dyes can affect the size," she said. The guide offers tips such as the best level of support depending on exercise, age and bra size.
Through the guide, McGhee hopes to help women better support themselves, and to shed a little light on the secret world of bras and breasts.