Sports Bras

I wasn’t going to post today – my day was not really that exciting. I drove to the gym and ran on the treadmill because it was raining. I was going to try out rowing and tell you about it but I was confused by the rowing machine so that failed. I made some black bean burgers, but I’ll talk about those on Friday.

But then I read this post about bra fitting as a feminist issue. I’ve never read this blog before, but I saw a link to this on Reddit, and what the author had to say really inspired me. After learning about how to buy a properly fitting bra after losing weight (I used to just buy 38C because that was Victoria’s Secret’s largest band and my boobs were “normal” sized), I’ve thought a lot about similar issues, but was never able to articulate them as well as the author has.

What inspired me to post about this is a point that is made in the article about sports bras – without a proper sports bra, women are basically confined to a sedentary life. I’ve heard numerous women complain, online and in person, that they hate working out because their breasts are so large, and that even if they wear a sports bra over a regular bra/wear two sports bras/duct tape their boobs (ok maybe I’m exaggerating with this one) exercise is still uncomfortable. Despite this discomfort, many of these women persevere – in my experience they are usually trying to vent about how they wish exercise would be more comfortable, rather than trying to make excuses. What I wish I could tell ALL of them is that it might be possible for them to reduce, if not completely eliminate their discomfort (I can do this online, but I hate confrontation and talking to a woman about bra size in person can turn into a nightmare  – my own mother doesn’t believe me). I’m going to guess they have at LEAST 2 problems that empowering women to understand bra sizing and available options would address:

  1. They don’t know their bra size. Many of these women will say things like “I’m a DD, there is no way I can work out and be comfortable.” But without band size, DD means nothing – it is likely that they are wearing too small of a cup size (i.e. they think they are a 36DD when they are really a 32G) and so the bras that they have are not giving them enough support in the first place.
  2. They don’t know about “good” sports bras. I define “good” sports bras pretty loosely – basically they acknowledge that cup sizes exist. None of this basically a cropped tank top crap that says to buy a “large” if you are a “D,” even if you are super scrawny and have no boobs like me (I’m a 32D, but on a small frame that is a small cup size, and the shape of my breasts means I look quite flat chested).

If you don’t know your size (or even if you think you do), I would recommend this guide (I’ve linked this before, I think) on how to measure yourself, especially if you are too shy/poor/living in the middle of nowhere to get a proper fitting.  Remember it is a starting point – because I’m pretty muscular/bony in my ribs and have oddly shaped breasts, I have to size up a band to keep from feeling uncomfortable and wear only certain styles of cups (I don’t fill others out). Similarly, someone who carries more weight around their ribs might be able to size down a band because there is more “padding” and “squish” there (I don’t really like those terms, but don’t know what else to say). But it’s a heck of a lot better than you will get in most stores, where they lie to you because they don’t carry your size (unless you happen to be a “normal” size like me that they carry).

If you don’t know about “good” sports bra options, here are a few options I can think of off the top of my head – note that these links also contain non cup-sized bras, so you should focus on the cup-sized ones”

  • Shock Absorber. I’ve never tried these, but I’ve heard good things. I don’t know where to buy them other than the internet.
  • Moving Comfort. Same deal – never tried, but I’ve heard good things. These are sold in lots of places (both my local running stores and places like Dick’s have them) and are also available through many online retailers with free returns (i.e. Piperlime). I will probably buy one of these sometime since they are locally available.
  • Under Armour. I own one very similar to this (I bought an outlet one that I don’t think they make anymore). It is very supportive but the straps are a bit tight and sort of cut into my armpits. I would still recommend, as not everyone will have the same body shape as me and the armpit thing might not bother them. You can also buy these in regular sporting goods stores, online, or in places like Under Armour Outlet.
  • Lululemon. I don’t own any of these, or anything from Lululemon (no Lululemon near me and I don’t want to buy online), but from what I understand they make very high quality activewear, and even some of their non cup-sized bras are extremely supportive if they happen to fit you (like the Run Pace Bra).
  • JC Penney. They recently started carrying cup-sized bras in their Glamorise brand. I bought this one in my sister size of 34C (often works for me because sports bras are sooooo tight compared to regular bras) but it was GIGANTIC, so do not size up! The bra seemed like it was of perfectly good quality, though, especially for like half the price of these other bras.
  • Target. I will note that I am somewhat biased about buying things at Target because I work there, so I get a discount. Still, I usually do not buy most activewear there, because it’s not really that cheap. I did buy this sports bra there, though, and I like it. Not as tight as my Under Armour one, but probably because I sister sized to 34C (this worked well in this brand). It still has adequate support for me, but recall that I don’t have a very large chest – I don’t know if it would be as supportive for a larger band/cup size. The padding has a weird shape compared to my chest, but I live with it, and it’s probably me, not the bra, and it’s removable anyway.
  • Note: not all of these have a large range of cup sizes, but websites like http://www.brastop.com that specialize in D+ bras might be a good starting point.
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