When buying a sports bra these days it’s getting harder to find a regular non-padded bra among all the ones with added va-va-voom. When did this happen? Surely when you’re working up a sweat, the last thing you want to be thinking about is: does my cleavage look good in this?
That’s not to say that fitness and fashion don’t mix. Activewear has come a long way from the adidas three-stripe tracksuits of the 90s (remember those? How could you forget?) I now drool over Onzie’s patterned leggings and Sweaty Betty’s yoga tops as much as a pair of Jimmy Choos. Feeling good in your fitness gear is a great motivator, but it needs to be functional as well as fashionable. Surely some extra padding in the boob area is just going to get in the way, mentally as well as physically. So what’s the point?
Comfort aside, it’s a question of confidence. One of the strongest drivers for exercising is to lose weight, shape up, and attain your ideal figure, so if you can cheat a bit with a bra, then why not? We’re bombarded with promo images of strong, beautiful sports models with shapely, full bosoms perched atop slim waists and toned legs. Wearing a padded sports bra looks beautiful and empowering – who doesn’t want a bit of that? I asked some male friends what they thought. Through their grins they said women wearing padded sports bras would encourage them to go to the gym more, just so they could ogle. Well, that’s an honourable service we could provide those male gym-goers, but that’s not really the aim of the workout game, is it? Sisters should be doing it for themselves.
And being self-conscious about your boobs and how sexy they look could have an negative effect instead. If you don’t, in fact, look like the models in the photographs, you might just give up. Isn’t it healthier not to care? This is the attitude that the Sport England campaign This Girl Can takes. Their promo material keeps it real with images of normal women sweating it out in functional kit, not worrying about their boobs (or any other bits) at all. The message is that women should be body confident and, more importantly, have fun doing their sweaty thing. No padded sports bras required.
Whatever your opinion about going “au naturel” or “enhanced”, the good news is that most padded sports bras have removable pads, like the Lorna Jane one I’m sporting in the pictures above (guess which side is which!) This means you can “boost” your workout, or not, depending on your whim. I like the sound of that.