For the best breast health, shop for support over appearance

Nanette Parsons of Leesburg’s Best Rack Around discusses the side effects–both physical and mental–of an ill-fitting bra.

Photo by Kierra Chinn

“There is lingerie meant to be taken off and lingerie meant to be kept on,” explains Nanette Parsons, owner of Leesburg’s Best Rack Around (BRA for short).

According to Parsons, bras are undergarments whose primary purpose is to support a woman’s breast tissue, and even though sales like “buy one bra, get one free,” make females feel as though they should stock up on a bunch of the same bra, it’s better to have three to five different ones designed to meet a variety of lifestyle needs.

“Bras are an investment. You get what you pay for,” says Parsons.

Comparing the often over-sexualized undergarment to shoes or glasses, Parsons explains that quality is of the utmost importance. An ill-fitting bra can cause stretch marks, hip and neck pain, bad posture and permanent indents in the skin, which is why women should swap out their old items every six months and have annual bra fittings. Indicators that you are wearing the wrong size include being able to feel your bra throughout the day, being able to slip two fingers under the band with room or if you feel digging, pulling, the underwire pressing into skin or as though you are hanging out.

Photo by Kierra Chinn

Fittings are especially important for women who are pregnant and for girls whose breasts are developing. Parsons has recently seen an uptick in the number of younger girls coming in for fittings, explaining that young girls should be fitted for bras that won’t compress the breast and are free from underwire.

“Young girls want to look like everyone else, [so] they wear minimizers and bras they shouldn’t be in,” Parsons said, adding that she wants younger girls to realize that they don’t need to feel ashamed of their bodies.

Parsons regularly hears about girls wearing sports bras all day, wearing bras to bed and girls who wear bralettes as sports bras. These habits—based on the misconceptions that they are somehow healthier—can lead to saggy breasts or a widening appearance of the chest.

But a proper-fitting bra not only has positive effects on an individual’s health, it also impacts an individual’s self-esteem. And therein lies the mission of Best Rack Around: helping women feel comfortable in their own skin and instilling in them that beauty emanates from within.

“There is a bra for every place and time,” Parsons, who carries anything from soft, lacy bras and bralettes to mastectomy and post-surgical bras, said. “It’s all about comfort, proper fit, and how [the bra] makes you feel.”