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On National Mammography Day, we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of the sports bra


Not a day goes by without hearing about some national holiday -- whether it's National Taco Day or National Boyfriend Day. Despite being repetitive in nature, they've become a way to bring awareness to either the most innocuous of topics, or even the most serious of ones.

And today is no different.

Today -- October 20 -- is National Mammography Day, as organized by the American Cancer Society, to educate women the importance of scheduling a mammogram. Mammograms can help detect breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is the most successful.

The screenings may have the ability to save lives, but many American women still don't make appointments. According to a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65.3 percent of women in the U.S. received mammograms in the past two years. That means about a third of women go unscreened.

But National Mammography Day shouldn't only be an opportunity to heighten awareness of an important topic. It can also be a day to celebrate the powerhouse pioneers who have made significant contributions to society -- contributions that have made life just a tad bit easier for women.

Forty years ago, in the summer of 1977, Lisa Lindahl envisioned a bra that would not only provide support during physical activity, but would also be lightweight and breathable, the Smithsonian noted. She eventually arrived at what was then known as the "Jockbra," which would later be rebranded into the "Jogbra."

Jogbra founders_smithsonian.jpg

The Jogbra was exactly what it sounded like: two jockstraps sewn together. Over the course of many design changes, and after Lindahl recruited her future business partner, Hinda Schreiber Miller, the Jogbra -- aka the sports bra -- would become a staple in American women's closets.

The invention of the sports bra came about five years after Title IX was enacted. The federal law, which guarantees women equality in education, also enhanced their ability to participate in sports. That meant that Lindahl and Miller's invention would accommodate women's newly-acquired active lifestyles.

"I won't say it was a feminist attitude, but maybe. That this was serious athletic equipment. This was not about lift and separate. It wasn't about looking pretty. It was about function."
Lisa Lindahl

That changing landscape helped their company, Jogbra, Inc., grow. According to an Boston's WBUR radio station, Jogbra, Inc., was profitable in its first full year and grew in double digits every year after.

But the sports bra's claim to fame wouldn't come until the late 20th century.

In 1984, runner Joan Benoit became the first to win the Olympic women's marathon in Los Angeles. As she crossed the finished line, her bra strap was showing -- an indiscretion that seemingly upstaged her achievements, WBUR noted.

Joan Benoit 1984
Joan Benoit is shown waving to the crowd moments after she won the Olympic gold medal for the women's marathon in Los Angeles, August 5, 1984. (AP Photo)

It took a few years for attitudes to change, but they eventually did. In 1999, U.S. soccer player Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring a penalty kick to tie in the World Cup with China.

FILE - In this July 10, 1999, file photo, the United States' Brandi Chastain celebrates by taking off her jersey after kicking in the game-winning goal in penalty shootout goal against China in the FIFA Women's World Cup Final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The last time the United States played China was at the World Cup final in 1999. The two countries play on Friday in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Lindahl described that moment as symbolic.

"And there it was, right on -- not just on national TV, it was international -- there are people all over the globe watching that. She said she's asked about that moment, she talks about it being a long journey, you know, a long accumulation of effort and work, and that's what my life has been -- it's like the two of us coming from two very different places, it all sort of came together in that moment of women's power and glory and truthfulness. And that was a moment of true beauty. Oh, by the way, thank you Brandi."

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