How Clothing Empowers People With Disabilities

Last updated: June 2019

If you're a woman dealing with psoriatic arthritis pain, the last thing you probably want to do is put on a bra. I have had psoriasis for 55 years and psoriatic arthritis for 25 years. I would have never thought in my 60 years on this earth that I would be talking about my undergarments. I told my husband I was going to write about this and he was like, “Oh, God don’t do it!!”

Let's talk about bras

I am a woman and one of the clothing requirements for us as women is to wear a bra. From the time we are 9 and 10, we are introduced to these things. I have always thought they were uncomfortable, and if you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, this is surely a double whammy. I feel physically uncomfortable without one and would never leave home without it. Putting on a bra is a simple activity of daily living that is taken for granted by healthy people.

I recall my first one being those tight training bras that never stayed in place. I would itch and scratch all day long with that miserable thing on. Next, came the bra with the wire, as a teenager this was an awful experience. A man had to have invented that contraption. I was tortured by underwire bras.

Terrible memories of wearing bras

I remember getting dressed to go to a school PTA meeting and I had to wear a slip, bra, and the whole thing. It was a very hot day in May. My back was always covered badly, and the bra had to be strapped on in a place that was very hard for me to reach. I was sitting with my parents at the meeting and I began to feel a lot of pain, itching, and misery. It was as if the material from the bra was cutting into my skin. It was awful. I remember going into the bathroom crying. I couldn't wait to get home. It was very hard to sit there as if everything was okay. I hated those things. I think the bra had more material than my blouse. I was so glad to get home to remove this piece of clothing that was bringing me so much agony. I mean bras rub against areas of the body that are already sensitive to the touch.

When will bras be designed with me in mind?

Has there been a tremendous change in the bras since the 70’s? They are softer with less material; however, they still have to be strapped in the back. This is a very vulnerable part of the body. I believe that at some point they can design a specific bra for women with chronic diseases like psoriatic arthritis or psoriasis. They will look at the science of our disease and will take all these things into consideration and come up with the right material, strapless and adhere to our skin. I found it difficult all through life to adjust wearing that miserable bra due to my condition. I know people who didn't have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis couldn’t stand to wear a bra. What more can I say?

With the pain that I am having with my PsA that I have found that comfortable bras and leggings are my best friends. I don’t need anything cutting off my circulation or digging into my skin. People take the clothing that they wear for granted, but if you have a skin disease, you want something nice and soft against your skin. You just want your body to be free of anything rubbing against it or any tight clothing which feels like it is compromising your circulation.

Get a bra that fits well!

The one thing I have learned over the years is that it’s very important to get a bra that fits. I have spent so much money over the years trying to pick out the right one. I have started wearing sports bras because they are much more comfortable. It holds up everything with no wire and doesn’t make my neck, shoulder, and back hurt as much. Independence takes on many forms and may look a little different than what you would think.

I’m very grateful for the upgrade of today's bras for women.

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