How Suit Changed Underwear Changed Women’s Sport

Malibu, the series about a life-saving group on California’s famed state beach, was famous for the images of actress Pamela Anderson running throHow Suit Changed Underwear Changed Women's Sportugh the sands on her mission to save bathers in the role of her character, CJ Parker.


This without showing the slightest annoyance at the fact that she wore a tight-fitting overcoat and her big breasts shaking. His face never showed a hint of pain. There was no sign either that her nipples were bruised.

The memory of CJ Parker makes it hard to believe that the mythical Amazons of Ancient Greece cut one of their breasts to shoot better with arrows. Or that the French pilot Violette Morris underwent a double mastectomy in the 1920s, because her breasts “got in the way” of driving.

Dirty Laundry

The reality is that female athletes have always had to deal with breast pains and resort to various expedients to protect them. Until, 38 years ago, it was invented the sports bra.

Hinda Miller, the inventor of the sport bra, recalls days when it was difficult to run without proper support. It was a time of rocking breasts and men bothering.

“We saw bleeding nipples in 5km races,” Miller told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We knew it was something that could not be healthy. If the breasts get too heavy, there may be damage to Cooper’s ligaments, which keep the shape of the breasts.” It does no good for breastfeeding and other things that women need to do in life.”

Miller and two friends, Lisa Lindahl and Polly Palmer-Smith, decided to join forces to solve a problem that in the 70s disrupted women around the world at a time when running and fitness became manias.

The eureka moment came in the form of an innocent joke from Lindahl’s husband.

He grabbed the laundry basket from his athletic stand and pulled it into a bra. From there came the Jogbra – something like the “jogging bra”.

“We bought two pairs of athletic braces, sewed them and used the elastic to attach them around the rib,” says Miller.

“We made a bra that was to be worn over the head.”


By 1979, the product was ready to hit sports stores.

Some traders, however, hesitated to display the bras, which were initially sold in black boxes. But the series of 40 produced as a test was soon sold. By the second year, sales had reached half a million dollars.

But what was the impact of the bra on professional athletes? The most successful British gymnast, Beth Tweddle, credits the sport bra with success in three World Championships. “I could pay attention to my sport instead of what my body was doing,” she said.

There are three types of sports bras, which vary according to the size of the breasts: those of compression, more appropriate for small breasts, they “squeeze” the breasts against the thorax; the encapsulation, similar to ordinary bras, that “separate” the breasts and lift them, being more appropriate for medium sizes. The third type, the combined, joins the first two, and also helps in the case of larger breasts.

Not wearing the sports bra underwear can cause lesions, pain and even cosmetic damage to the breasts. But even so, according to research from the University of Portsmouth, most women who exercise regularly do not wear the garment.

In a questionnaire sent to 2,000 youths, 46% said their breasts were an obstacle to participating in sports activities.

“We need to educate girls so they can make the right choices for their health. That includes choosing the right sports bra,” says Amanda Brasher, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth.