Adolescent girls are usually excited about their first bra experience. As adults though, hunting for and choosing the right bra can become a drag. Wearing the right type and size of bra can work wonders for a woman, Harriet Birungi writes.
For years, Molly Kesiime always chose her bras carefully. One day, however, she decided to go adventurous.
“I went downtown and bought a red bra from Owino market. When I got home, I washed it and looked forward to Monday when I would wear it. I was so excited that I ignored the pain I felt in my chest that morning, thinking it was because of too much housework.
“However, the pain increased when I got to office. I could only get some relief while breathing by bending forward. It did not cross my mind that the bra I was wearing was causing the discomfort. I felt relieved when I got home and took it off. Other days of the week, I wore other bras until Friday when I reached for the new bra again.
“When the pain became unbearable, I went to the bathroom and took it off for a while. I felt immediate relief. I realised that the chest pain, the poor posture and difficult breathing were caused by the bra. However, I could not walk around without a bra. I wore it as I waited for the day to end. I kept tugging at the straps and dashing to the bathroom every 40 minutes. I felt like I had something sitting on my chest and crushing my ribcage. I had never rushed home on a Friday evening like I did that day. I burnt the bra that weekend,” says Kesiime.
She is not the only woman who has faced challenges with bras. Esther Nomuhangi recalls a time she almost went numb from the pain in her shoulder. She also suffered self-esteem issues.
“I did not look good in my clothes. If the bust did not seem too big, then buttons on my blouse would open. I wore many T-shirts and when I changed to smart blouses, I would have a sweater on top. I was conscious of my breasts.
One day a friend recommended a woman who sold bras. I bought about six bras, but three of them almost left me paralysed. The straps dug into my left shoulder. I was always adjusting the position of the straps and I would constantly scratch my chest. It was the pain in my back that got me to see a doctor. I went for a bra fitting and I have never risked with tight bras again” says Nomuhangi.
HOW DO I KNOW IT IS A WRONG BRA?
As Kesiime and Nomuhangi discovered, an ill-fitting bra can be a source of discomfort and health complications. However, many women buy the wrong bras because they do not know this. Most never go for fitting yet, according to Marietta Enoch, a nurse, expert on bra fitting and director of Hapygal Ltd in Kisementi, the wrong bra can make you miserable. “They can give you a headache and leave you tense behind the neck. You get a bad back and poor sitting posture since you keep bending for comfort,” Enoch explains.
It will also cause excess fat under the arms and the sides of the breast. And as you grow older, it becomes impossible to hide.
Enoch also cites breast spillage as another result of wearing the wrong bra. “It will lead to spillage under the arms/armpits and make breasts flat. This gives you a chapatti-like look with bumps,” explains Enoch.
WHY WE NEED TO HAVE BRA MEASUREMENTS
More than 80% of women wear the wrong bra size. As Enoch reveals, 70% wear bras that are too small, while 10% wear bras that are too large. Yet, the wrong bra looks bad and can cause health problems. “Being fitted with the correct bra will give you enhanced shape, symmetry and confidence,” Enoch says.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE BUYING A BRA
Enoch recommends finding out one’s bra size. Which bras are appropriate under which outfit? How do I care for my bras if they are to last?
There are different bra shapes: plunge, full cup, half cup and soft cup. Whichever shape you are happy with, find one that will do a lot for your look, posture and confidence.
“It feels very nice when you walk into a room and immediately become the centre of everyone’s attention. To be able to achieve this, you must pay attention to your underwear. It changes the whole personality and looks,” Enoch says.
BRA FAUX PAS
The most common mistakes women make are:
*Super drooper: the back of your bra may be too big and the straps too loose. Try adjusting the straps.
* The big stand-off: If the front of your bra does not sit flat on your sternum, the back of your bra is too big.
*Saggy cups: if you have too much fabric creating wrinkly cups then the cups are too big.
*Quadraboom: If your cleavage spills over the cups giving the impression of four breasts, the cup size is too small.
*The high rider: if the back of your bra is riding up then it is too big.
*The side boob: if the wires in the side of your cup are sitting on your breast rather than your ribcage, it is likely that your cup is too small.
BENEFITS OF BRAS
*The right bra can reduce your waistline by five inches.
*A breast is entirely made of fatty tissue. Some breasts will droop, some more than others. Good fitting bras will not accelerate this process.
*Correct undergarments will not encourage poor posture, chest pain, breathing problems, angina and asthma. Headache, backache, neck, shoulder pain, itchy skin, irritation and skin allergy may also be signs that you are wearing the wrong bra type.
Caring for your breasts
Breasts are a symbol of many things; femininity, sexuality and maternal love. But if not properly cared for, breasts can be a source of pain. To ensure their good health, every woman needs to know how to care for her breasts.
Like any other part of the body, breasts need to be washed and wiped dry. Ensure you wash them, paying particular attention to the nipples and the area below.
“Wipe your breasts dry before you wear a bra,” Dr. Vincent Karuhanga of Friends Polyclinic says. Besides proper washing, it is important to
moisturise them. According to www.wholeliving. com, the chest has the body’s most sensitive skin which is also very thin. Be sure to moisturise the thin skin on the chest with a really thick lotion, an equivalent of a night cream. Look for a moisturiser with ingredients that bind water to the skin, such as hyaluronic acid or cocoa butter.
Keep your breasts high with the right bra. If breasts are not properly supported, the ligaments overstretch and they sag. The larger the breasts are, the more important it is to support them.
Also, exercise and stay in shape. Whereas no amount of exercise will increase your cup size or re-firm already sagging breasts, staying in shape will help maintain breast shape.
Exercise may be key to preventing breast cancer, since up to one-third of all cases could be avoided if women exercised more and ate less.
Check your breasts for lumps. The best time to do so is after your period, since breasts tend to be more cystic or lumpy leading up to menstruation. Pay attention to a lump that feels hard and does not move around or to one that moves but persists for more than one or two menstrual cycles. Such lumps should be the ones you bring to your doctor’s attention.