April 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM ET
You can almost hear the collective unhooking and sighs of relief spreading around the world as women find out bras don’t benefit their breasts—and may actually be harmful! That’s according to a French professor who studied breasts for 15 years (tough job for him, I’m sure.)
“Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity,” said the study’s Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon.
Starting in 1997, Rouillon measured and examined the breasts of 330 women between the ages of 18 and 35, studying the effects of living with and without a bra. The findings, released Wednesday, suggest that women who did not use bras developed more muscle tissue to support the breasts, and had less sagging, perkier nipples, and faded stretch marks. The restrictive material in a bra actually prevents muscle tissue from growing, which may accelerate sagging. Some of the women even said not wearing a bra helped ease back pain.
Sounds like women have finally been given the freedom to go braless? Well, don’t organize a bra burning just yet. Despite the findings, Rouillon said it would be dangerous to advise all women to take off their bras. The women in his study may not be representative of the population—sounds like he spent time with a lot more A cups than double D’s—and if you’ve already worn a bra for several decades, it’s too late to stop now. If pre-teen girls never started wearing bras, maybe the over-the-shoulder boulder-holders would become obsolete, but their parents might not be so keen on that idea.
Bummer. But seriously, could you see yourself going to work without a bra? Taking your kids to the playground? Being judged by other women and ogled by men as you go for your morning jog? Especially us ladies with ample bosoms—we could end up with a black eye!
What do you think? Would you be brave enough to go braless?
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.