Sports-bra fashion show

Under the pretext of reviewing athletic bras, the New York Times offers a slide show of women in their undies.

Topics: Broadsheet, The New York Times, Fashion, Love and Sex,

What’s the deal with inadequate-sports-bra mania these days? First there was the much-blogged bounce-o-meter, which tempted Internet users with the sight of a topless woman jogging and warned against the permanent damage that can result from insufficient support. Today, the New York Times Styles section joined in with a slide show of new sports-bra technologies, in which members of a Durango, Colo., running club pose in their skivvies — er, I mean, “tested the bras.”

“Many sports bras just compress the chest to prevent uncomfortable jiggling,” the Times informs us. “But a new wave of bras encapsulate each breast for improved lateral and vertical support and a look that comes close to mimicking the shapeliness of nonathletic bras.”

Unfortunately, though it’s true that the manufacturers’ descriptions claim these bras provide improved lateral and vertical support, the Times reviews don’t say whether testers experienced more or less bounce in the featured bras than in their regular bras. Without much in the way of evaluation — the most substantive comment was that one tester disliked her test bra’s nonadjustable straps — the feature ended up being just a sports-bra fashion show. And while it’s great to see athletic, healthy-looking women getting ink in the fashion pages, I wish the Times had taken the feature in a less advertorial direction.

Why do so few athletic bras offer adjustable straps? Do women really risk damaging their breasts by exercising sans sports bra, or do they just risk reduced perkiness? Do women who are nursing or have nursed infants have different sports-bra needs? Which bras really minimize breast bounce, even for large breasts? Do some reporting, New York Times!

The women of the Durango running club make great fitness role models, but if I actually want to compare sports bras, I’m sticking to the Title 9 catalog.

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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