Did you know that the sports bra has only been around for 40-ish years? Tell me; has there EVER been a more useful invention?
I don’t know about you, but having a comfortable way to strap those puppies in and keep them safe and supported during physical exercise is something I appreciate and definitely take for granted.
So, let’s be thankful together and take a quick look at the history of the sports bra.
It was the 1970’s. Title IX was ushering women into athletics and jogging was the hottest new craze. But while feminism and equal rights were moving our society forward, American breasts were being left behind. The time had come to upgrade the brassiere and take care of the boobies.
The first commercially available sports bra was introduced in 1975. It was called the “Free Swing Tennis Bra” and while it offered more support than regular bras, it wasn’t close to what we would consider a sports bra of today. With skinny straps and no mention of support, you can see you how useless it was.
Enter Lisa Lindahl, a student at the University of Vermont. Lisa and her sister were joggers fed up with the boob-bounce thing. Designing the first “jockstrap for women,” their bra sought to eliminate breast bounce, have straps that didn’t fall down with no “poky hardware.” Their newly named “jockbra” turned into the “jogbra” and a mail-order business was born.
Lindahl soon realized that the jogbra needed to be in retail sporting stores, however, but it was a tough sell to the mostly male owners.
“I made a decision early on that this was not lingerie,” Lindahl said. “It was sports equipment, something you needed like you needed your shoes.”
And when the owners became squeamish about a display case full of sports bras? Lindahl reminded them, “You sell jockstraps, don’t you?”
Since those early days of the jogbra, there have been many improvements and landmark moments for the sports bra:
In 1984, 27-year-old Joan Benoit won the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon in Los Angeles with her lingerie-style bra strap showing as she completed her final lap causing an uproar that upstaged her athletic achievement.
In 1988, Montana hairstylist Renelle Braaten constructed a front-fastening sports bra designed especially for big-breasted women.
In 1999, soccer player Brandi Chastain celebrated her team’s World Cup victory by ripping off her jersey and revealing her black Nike sports bra – the nation went CRAZY! Breasts could now be celebrated in sports!
In 2000, Champion responded to women’s complaints that sports bras flattened and de-feminized their bust lines by introducing the Shaper bra, which used a non-foam spacer fabric to maintain women’s curves without compromising performance.
In 2003, Seamless sports bras virtually eliminated chafing and the practice of distance athletes covering themselves in Vaseline to prevent painful abrasions.
The innovation continues today. High-tech fabrics improve moisture and odor management, support and comfortability – and me and my boobs couldn’t be more pleased!