You’ll never look at a bra the same way again Laura Tempesta TEDxKCWomen

boobs the girl's breasts sometimes they're a friend sometimes they're in front of me but even when they frustrate you you give them unconditional support and you do this every day of your life by strapping yourself into a garment called the bra the bra as we know it is a hundred years old and we believe a lot of things about it it needs to be pretty it needs to be supportive well it needs to be a lot like us what we expect from our bras is a metaphor for what the world expects of us and since our ideas about ourselves have changed a lot in the past 100 years maybe our bras to change to as the only person in North America with a master's degree in lingerie design I spent a lot of time studying bras and I believe they're broken the stat that 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size came from a study conducted by Marks & Spencer a British retailer well-known for profiting another study found that 59% of women said their bra cause back shoulder or neck pain think athletic apparel is secure all mm-hmm not quite 75% of female marathon runners have at least one fit issue with their sports bra that causes discomfort so when we consider it the astonishing breadth of innovation over the past 100 years why are we still fastening ourselves and the same contraption every day and calling it support is the bra really so great that it justifies a design which has hardly changed in a hundred years no manufacturers of most types of clothing including bras no it's easier and cheaper to maintain the status quo by making the same thing they've always made just changing the color or print they've trained consumers not to expect modernization in these types of goods leading consumers to believe that true innovation in what we wear isn't possible which is ironic because with most other things we buy things not even directly related to our comfort we expect the manufacturers to constantly up their game I'm not going to buy a new phone because this muezzins trendy color is rose gold but because the technology in it is significantly better than the phone I'm currently using the tech sector convinces us we need the latest innovation the apparel industry conditions us that the status quo it's as good as it gets they count on our complacency sure there have been some advances with bras microfiber and stretch have been added to fabrics padded straps molded cuts various types of under wires so well look how far bras have come but here's what a bra in 1930 look like and here's what it looks like today it's that 90 year old bra was hanging in a store today you would think it was this season's latest design you only need to be on Facebook one second to see ads for revolutionised bras but those bras are essentially just the same old thing and I have a concern not only that bras haven't evolved and they aren't doing for us what we need but that we've been taught by this very industry what we think we need and we've been misled so let's take a look at the design of the raw and the limits and imposes and for those of you who don't wear bras I'm assuming you've encountered a few along the way and are familiar with the technology so why do we wear bras we're told that's what you're supposed to do social and cultural norms have taught us to feel shame if our breasts are uncovered or feel unattractive if they are drooping if you have larger breasts it can feel uncomfortable to have them moving around maybe you wear abroad because you believe it will keep your breasts from sagging well I have news for you there is no scientific evidence what so ever that wearing a bra will keep your breasts from sagging not that's right the technical term for sagging is ptosis and it happens due to factors like breast size pregnancy smoking aging and gravity in fact there are two studies which show that wearing a bra actually contributes to breasts saggy and while the jury is still out on these it may be that keeping them aren't officially lifted weakens the breasts supporting tissues bra manufacturers are well aware of this in 2000 the then CEO of bra maker Playtex John Dixie was quoted in a British documentary saying we have no medical evidence that wearing a bra could prevent sagging because the breast itself is not a muscle so keeping it toned up is an impossibility sometimes I'm asked what about the breasts do tribal women who don't wear clothes I'm not going to show you a side of those women but a quick google search will reveal the variety of breast shape in those tribes matches a variety in the rest of the world some are perky and some are less than perky the only difference is that ptosis and bra wearing cultures is covered up ra's so you can't see just how prevalent pendulous breasts shapes are in those cultures so if you're wearing a bra today because you believe it will keep your breasts from sagging you are wearing it for the wrong reasons I know I felt betrayed too but based on the evidence we have wearing a bra to stay lifted may make about as much sense as wearing high heels thinking I'll actually make you taller when you take them off okay so if Ross can't prevent sagging surely we need them for support right and what better way than with underwires two pieces of metal wedged under the breast we've come to believe that under bars alone provides support right wrong under wires were not designed for support they were designed for shape under wires act like ponytail holders they got a larger mass into a compact rounded shape here are two bras on the same woman one with under wires and one without as you can see the one without underwire says a much better job supporting the breasts although there are lots of supportive underwire bras the underwire alone does not provide the support most of the support actually comes from the stability of the under man cups and straps let's take a look at photos of women from the 1950s in bullet bras [Laughter] those bras didn't have underwires and those for us were so supported they could poke an eye out I'm guessing this isn't the first time you've discovered that something that you thought would be supportive turned out not to be except at that point you probably ended that relationship maybe you liked the feeling of an underwire you're used to it and you like the shape it gives you great but if you hate underwires and you're only wearing them because you think you need to stop there are plenty of support a bras without underwires how do you find a non underwire bra that's supportive look for a bra with cups made from non stretch fabric rather than foam why think about how differently you sit in a big slouchy sofa versus a church pew pretty different right you'll sink into the foam of a cushion chair but sit upright in a wooden chair a non-stretch fabric is like a wooden chair and does a much better job of supporting also look for no stretch in the front of the bra and the front straps if you're thinking that doesn't sound very comfortable I assure you that fabric based support is in fact very comfortable far better than wire or a church pew so let's talk sizing for a sec as women we've been raised to identify with a certain size and by the way when you're not that size anymore it's upsetting if you are always a size six and now you're a 10 you have feelings about that just as you do when you go from a 12 to an 8 chances are you've also labels yourself with a bra size especially a cup size I'm just a I'm a solid B I'm a d you probably have feelings about that too you might even feel an adequacy or shame but here's the thing bras don't fit the way jeans fit if you're a size 18 you know that a six will be too small and a 10 will be too large there's only one size in that style that will fit you but bras aren't size like any other type of clothing there isn't just one size that fits you and the reason I'm telling you this is that you eight you have mistakenly settled on a size thinking that's just what you are when you could be wrong and missing out on a world of comfort and far superior support as a result let's take four bra sizes 38 a 36 B 34 c and 32 D completely different sizes right nope they're all the same size these sizes all accommodate the same size breasts they just do it with a shorter or longer under band now you might think you're a d-cup and then you just need to figure out the girth of your ribcage correct wrong again a 38d 36 t 34 d and 32 d have absolutely nothing in common they don't fit the same size breasts or ribcage so everything you've been told your whole life that a cups are always small and D cups are always large isn't true would you believe it if I told you that you could be an A and have bigger breasts than someone with a D cup sounds flatly wrong but it's true and some mates get this are the exact same size as DS you think it can't be true but that's just how messed up bra sizing is and why we so often get it long and much like the other ways we have been labeled as women these cup sizes are labels that are lies when was the last time you questioned your size when was the last time you questioned something else about yourself you thought was true but might not be why a size is so crazy like who designed it this way and why the numbers 32 34 etc are based on Victorian shirt sizes initially the bra size was only the shirt size the assumption was that the clothing size matched the breast size small clothing size small breast size when it became apparent that wasn't always the case cup sizes were added by determining how many inches bigger the bus was than the Victorian shirt size but here's the problem with that two inches bigger than a thirty-two shirt size was a b-cup and two inches bigger than a 38 shirt size was also a b-cup that created a lot of different size B cups and led to something called scissor sizing which is how bras are currently sized so all of these cups which sound totally different are exactly the same in fact the manufacturers make the same fronts over and over and over again change the length of the under band and label it as a different size the cups are identical and all of these cups which sound totally the same are completely different as the decades went on and women no longer knew their Victorian shirt size off the top of their head a system of measuring around the rib cage and adding four or five inches was used to identify a woman's Victorian sighs why are 80% of women wearing the wrong bra size because most women have no idea this it's out browser size currently the global bra market is around 25 billion dollars annually since 80% of those purchases are for the wrong size that means approximately 20 billion of that 25 billion is spent purchasing the raw products I can't think of any other industry where 80% of consumers buy the wrong thing and it's considered perfectly normal how's that okay and the reason so many women are experiencing pain from their bras is because they're wearing the wrong size that's outrageous designing a system that would enable most women to earth wear the right bra size would be very easy to do just label all of the cup sizes which are the same list singing that's how most women assume bras are sized anyway and make the band size a simple rib cage measurements because let's be honest unless you're living in Downton Abbey who cares what your Victorian shirt sizes how do you know if you're wearing the wrong size because that system of adding four or five inches doesn't work very well many women are wearing a band size too big and a cup size too small reach around and pull the band away from your back if it easily stretches more than the width of your hand it's too big or too old and I just lost half the audience because they have their hands up their shirts why is having a large under band problematic because here's another bra do you see the majority of support comes from the under band not the straps in fact if your shoulder straps are digging in it could mean that you're under band is too big and isn't doing its job by the way you don't have to adjust the straps equally most people have one shoulder higher than another so it's okay if one needs to be tighter than another when you buy a new bra be sure to also try on your sister sizes to find the best fit and be sure to find a bra that fits on the loosest hook you're supposed to hook a new bra on the loosest hook so that as it gets older and stretches out you can tighten it and if your raw has had a birthday it has out status welcome you should be replacing your bras every year I know this is my blowing stuff truly no matter when you bought the bra you're wearing today bottom line is it's a hundred years older than you think hey some things do get better with age like fine wine or Helen Mirren but not the bra and it leaves us to question what other outdated ideas are we stuck on here's the thing all bras are training bras they train us from a young age that this is how things are how things feel how you come up short and there's nothing you can do about it bras have become an icon for the status quo I'm not saying we should all be burning on a bras but we can do better than this if we don't question something as small and persistent as the first thing we put on every day how can we question the bigger things the time is now for us to challenge the status quo and it starts at chest level because for far too long the very thing that's supposed to lift us up has led us down thank you [Applause] [Music]