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What is a Water Bra?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 21, 2024
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A bra, or brassiere, is an element of clothing manufactured and worn specifically to cover, support, or enhance the breasts. A water bra is known for such breast-enhancing capabilities, but with an additional element: liquid. The liquid used in a water bra is usually a gel, not water. Though a bra may be made with the liquid already inside, modern gel inserts may also be added to an otherwise waterless bra.

The modern bra became popular as corsets began to go out of style. As the 1800s came to a close, the idea was no longer to elevate the breasts, as corsets had. Comfort and support began to take over as the primary reason for wearing this undergarment. Over the next century, bras became more compact in size.

Like corsets, bras can increase cup size. In a water bra, the gel-filled cups are meant to look more natural than firmly padded bras. Old-fashioned padded bras, particularly the torpedo or bullet bras popular in the 1940s and 1950s, made breasts appear as pointy cones. For many decades since, the padded bra was known to be thick, heavy, and at times, obvious. Bra manufacturers eventually began to produce bras that moved with the breasts during regular activities such as walking. The water bra was one of these bra types.

Though it is still considered somewhat of a novelty, the water bra gained much more popularity in the late 20th century. Typically filled with a gel rather than water, a small bag containing the substance is attached or sewn into the bra. This bag is often teardrop- or oval-shaped and is meant to curve naturally around the breast. Occasionally, the entire bra cup is filled with liquid, though manufacturers don’t prefer this method due to the possibility of puncturing.

Removable liquid pads have also become popular. Often sold as a water bra set, these pads can be taken out if cleavage enhancement isn’t wanted, or they can be utilized with other non-water bras, as they are simply placed between the cup and the breasts. These pads or liquid-filled bags are occasionally referred to as chicken cutlets or chicken fillets, as their shape is often akin to that of a chicken tender.

When worn properly, water bras, like other bras, enhance cleavage. An incorrect bra fit may decrease the appearance of cleavage. A bra that is either too big or too small will flatten the breasts and cause them to look far less aesthetically pleasing.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Jul 04, 2013

@SarahGen-- I think a water bra is better because it has a more natural shape to it. If a bra curves around the natural shape of your breasts, it will look natural and no one will know. You have to get a well fitting bra.

By SarahGen — On Jul 03, 2013

I normally wear an A cup bra. I want a bigger chest and I don't like wearing bras without any padding. But the issue is that most padded bras are too obvious and my friends say that they can tell that I have padding inside.

Do water bras look more natural or are they also very apparent? Which is better-- a push up bra or a water bra-- for small chests?

By fBoyle — On Jul 03, 2013

I act in plays as a hobby and I bought a stage costume last year where the chest was too big. It looked like I had no breasts when I wore it, the chest area just looked empty.

What I did was I removed the gel inserts from my water bra and gently stitched it into the chest area of the costume. It worked great! The dressed looked full and my breast size looked naturally bigger.

I think water/gel bras are great, especially those with detachable inserts. I think every woman should own one for emergency situations.

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