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France Debates the Merits of the Bra

LONDON — Only in France.


A researcher at the University Hospital of Besançon, in the east of the country, has prompted a lively debate this week with a study that suggests women might be better off without their bras.

本周,法国东部的贝藏松医科大学(University Hospital of Besançon)的一位研究员在一项调查中发现,女人不戴胸罩可能更利于健康,由此引发了一场热烈的讨论。

After a study involving 330 female volunteers aged 18 to 35, Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon concluded that “medically, physiologically and anatomically” breasts gained no benefit from having their weight supported.

让-丹尼斯·鲁永(Jean-Denis Rouillon)教授调查了330名18岁至35岁的女性志愿者,得出的结论是“从医学、生理学以及解剖学的角度看”,有东西支撑乳房,对它毫无益处。


What the French know as the “soutien-gorge” could, in fact, be positively harmful in terms of posture and muscle tone. Wearing a bra means “supporting tissues will not grow and even they will wither and the breast will gradually degrade,” Mr. Rouillon, a sports scientist, warned.


The headline-grabbing findings were widely reported in the French press and prompted some wry comments about the fact that the study had taken 15 years of closely measuring female anatomies — “such was the hard task that Professor Rouillon took on,” noted Mathieu Sicard in a blog post for Le Nouvel Observateur.

这个抢眼的发现得到了法国媒体的广泛报道,引发了一些辛辣的评论,这些评论主要围绕着这项研究花15年时间密切检测女性骨骼这件事。“这些就是鲁永教授进行的艰苦调查,”马蒂厄·西卡德(Mathieu Sicard)在写给《新观察家》(Le Nouvel Observateur)的博客文章中这样说。

While some male social media jokers asked where they could sign on to help the professor with his research, others expressed astonishment that, after a decade and a half, the results were still being described as “preliminary.”


The French daily Le Monde raised the tone on Thursday by offering a historical insight into the origins of the bra, quoting findings by Austrian archaeologists who have dated its development back to the 14th century.

法国日报《世界报》(Le Monde)周四也加入讨论,对胸罩起源的历史进行了仔细回顾,引用了奥地利考古学家们的发现,他们将胸罩的发展追溯到了14世纪。

Feminists have complained that women once again faced being reduced to their body parts, while one anonymous commenter at the France-Info Web site, who said she would not be burning her bra, asked, “Why can’t we put our money into more serious and necessary studies?”


Mr. Rouillon’s research was eminently serious, in contrast to some of the reactions it provoked.


Ahead of the announcement of his findings on Wednesday, he told France Culture last year that he had been inspired by the discovery that no previous study had looked at the medical effects of the bra.

鲁永是周三公布这些发现的。他去年就告诉《法国文化》(France Culture),他发现没有哪项研究是关于胸罩的医学作用的,所以他产生了做这项调查的想法。

He stressed on Wednesday that his preliminary research was not based on a representative sample of women and therefore it would be dangerous to advise all women to stop wearing their bras.


As commentators speculated whether the research would prompt a revival of 1970s bra-burning, one of Mr. Rouillon’s volunteers, a 28-year-old woman identified as Capucine, offered her own testimonial.


Having dumped her bra two year ago, she told France-Info, “You breathe better, you stand straighter and you have less back pain.”


But Marion Streicher, the broadcaster’s correspondent in Besançon, suggested it might be too early to write the epitaph of the bra.

但是该电台在贝藏松的通讯员玛里昂·施特赖歇尔(Marion Streicher)认为,现在就写胸罩的墓志铭为时过早。

The garment’s “social dimension” should not be overlooked, she said, neither should the “lovers of lace and décolleté” who would no doubt be advising women not to abandon their bras.

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