XX Factor: How the Sports Bra Changed History

When it comes to important innovations in sports technology, few inventions can compete with the sports bra. In the 1970s, women’s interest in athletics was surging following the passage of Title IX. There was just one problem—actually, make that two problems: breasts. Boob bounce hurts, as women getting in on the jogging craze quickly found out. Then some friends in Vermont had an idea to stitch a couple jock straps together to build a contraption that would keep things in place. Their creation revolutionized women’s participation in sports and launched what’s become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Today, high-tech boob labs are helping designers make ever more effective—and stylish—iterations, even for athletes with DDD cups. Outside contributing editor Florence Williams, author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, looks back at the game-changing invention, takes measure of just how far we’ve come, and points towards an even brighter, bounce-free future.

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