Fried eggs, boulders, and spaghetti straps

Via Jezebel, which has a sharp post on female confessional journalism: Christa D’Souza writes about her breast implant saga in the Daily Fail. D’Souza clearly had a terrible time, and her article highlights the ways in which the reality of implants differs from the promise of implants. The short version is: she’s dissatisfied with her post-baby 34B breasts; she gets implants (34E), which “encapsulate” (i.e., scar tissue wrapped around them, making them hard and immobile); she downsizes to 34D, which encapsulate; she downsizes to 30D; she gets breast cancer, has radiation, and decides to remove the implants altogether when radiation is done. Clearly, D’Souza has had a complicated relationship with her breasts, driven partly by self-consciousness brought on by teasing as a girl, partly by her regret at the drastic solution she opted for. Getting breast cancer must have felt even more hideously unfair than it always is. I wish her well and hope she continues to recover safely.

But, since this is SP and I am a humorless feminist, I want to talk about the body-shaming language D’Souza uses throughout the article. You’d think that a confession about what a mistake it was to get implants would have a less judgmental about the female body than other articles; you’d be wrong. Here’s how she describes her natural breasts: spaniels’ ears, fried eggs, a bog standard 34B, virtually flat-chested. Here’s how she describes her enhanced breasts:

when I unwrapped the bandages a few days later my breasts were . . . gargantuan.

Instead of feeling sexy and young, I felt like a superannuated porn star. And when I didn’t feel like a superannuated porn star, I felt like Alastair Sim in St Trinian’s, with this new massive ‘monobosom’.

So here I was . . . wearing a puffa jacket, two cardigans, two sweatshirts and a pair of scruffy Ugg boots – and still attracting wolf whistles from workmen in the street.

The truth was I felt like a transvestite. Instead of giving me the desired Jessica Rabbit silhouette, the implants had made me feel butch (if you don’t have the hourglass waist to begin with, that’s what happens).

This is not an article about the size of her breasts. This is an article about self-hatred, only D’Souza doesn’t know it.

This article boggled me even more than I expected it to at first glance because the size that makes D’Souza feel like a gargantuan, transvestite porn star—34E—is my natural size. (Most of the time, anyway.) Now, I’m not as thin as D’Souza seems to be in the old (implant-having) pictures, but still: I don’t feel like a superannuated porn star. I don’t feel like Jessica Rabbit, either. I feel like a woman with big tits. There is very little acknowledgment in the article that some women actually do have naturally large breasts. Everything that is described as a post-implant horror—except for the encapsulation—is something that just comes with having large breasts, whether they’re natural or not.

I couldn’t see my feet in the shower, which was strangely disturbing, and I’d also started to hunch my shoulders in the way congenitally huge breasted women find themselves doing.

I have spent most of the past decade having to wear two sports ‘minimiser’ bras if I want to go for a run, and having to buy separate bikini bottoms and tops because the tops would never normally fit, of looking improper in anything even vaguely tight.

Now I long to go braless, to wear all those pretty little spaghetti strapped tops, to have that elegant, cherry-pipped silhouette that all the models in the magazines have.

Sound familiar to anyone? I haven’t gone braless since I was 12, personally.

The problem is not that D’Souza didn’t like her implants; it’s her body and her life, and I’m sorry that she had what was clearly an awful experience with plastic surgery. The problem is that her article perpetuates the distortions about the female body that are so prevalent in our culture. Big breasts are gargantuan, improper; small breasts are elegant and let you wear pretty clothes. 34E is a “massive” size, but 34B looks like a 12-year-old. The range of acceptable racks, like the range of acceptable dress sizes, is shockingly narrow. On either size, you’re not “really” a woman at all: you’re a transvestite or a prepubescent, unwomanly, unnatural even if what we are talking about is your natural body.

The most telling line in the article, to me, is this one: Implants point not only to footballers’ wives, but a bygone era. In a nutshell, I feel terribly ’20th Century’ with these two boulders of silicone in my chest. What body types are fashionable changes, and quickly. Keeping up a trendy body costs money, time, and pain. My gargantuan tits and I are just fine being out of style.

306 thoughts on “Fried eggs, boulders, and spaghetti straps

  1. I feel you on this one, SM. I’m a 32FF-G naturally. It’s so frustrating that we live in a culture in which women are repeatedly told that we’re supposed to be large breasted, but most of the women I know who are similar in size to me are nowhere near the “desirable” size 0 or 2. So we’re all supposed to have an appearance that isn’t feasible for the vast majority of women.

    Also:
    I’d also started to hunch my shoulders in the way congenitally huge breasted women find themselves doing.

    I don’t hunch my shoulders. My body, build, and frame are perfectly capable of holding my tits up just fine thank you. Also “congenitally”? Really? I know that it’s technically the correct word, but it just makes me feel as though she sees having large breasts as some sort of defect.

  2. I know that it’s technically the correct word, but it just makes me feel as though she sees having large breasts as some sort of defect.

    It also makes us sound like we’re born with huge racks. Which, uh, I wasn’t.

  3. I’ve always found it interesting that the most fashionable silouhette, the “Barbie” with a tiny waist and hips and enormous perky breasts, is pretty much only attainable through plastic surgery. If you lose enough body fat to be slender down below, your breasts will of course shrink correspondingly; very slender women with naturally large breasts are fairly rare (although one of my aunts wears a size 6 and an an E-cup). I am a 40D but I am also 5’11” and weigh about 200 pounds.

    A few weeks ago I was shopping with my boss at TJ Maxx. She is very tiny and thin and almost doesn’t need to wear a bra at all, but she was looking at bras. Suddenly she pulled one out of the rack and started talking to the women next to her, saying “I’d just kill myself if I had to wear a bra this big. Look, I can wear it like a hat! How does anyone live with a bosom this large?”

    The bra was a 40D. I pointed out that it was my size. She was suitably embarrassed and then she said “But you’re tall! You can carry it!” Story of my life.

    Its like the way fashion designers habitually sell bathing suits that are cut to cover much less pubic hair than most women naturally have, so you feel like you’ve got to shave or wax for them. The tail wagging the dog, if you ask me.

  4. Awesome. As a 36A, she’s not making me feel particularly elegant, either. I mean, fried eggs? Wtf.

  5. Post-reduction, I’m a 36 G. Still can’t see my feet in the shower. I can, however, control the rack of doom with sports bras now. I can also roll over in bed and not get my boobs caught under my body. My back and shoulders do feel better, but the biggest difference, which came as a surprise, is that breathing is so much easier.

  6. 40G or 40H. I CAN NOT find properly fitting bras at most retail outfits and ordering them online is a crap shoot. The only plastic surgery I have ever seriously considered is breast reduction. But, saying that, I do not think there is anything wrong with me. My breasts look just like the breasts of my mother and grandmother — they found strategies for dealing with the oversize boulders, I have my own strategies.
    I’m sorry this woman has had a bad experience with implants. But she has no right to insult all of us with her self loathing. That is the risk of cosmetic surgery — you hope you’ll be happy with what you get, but there are no guarantees. That is what has always stopped me from seeking a reduction, what if what I end up with is even more hard to deal with? And I don’t trust fat hating surgeons not to deliberately disfigure me.

  7. SM, so true! Though I did get them pretty young. I was easily a D cup by the time I was 11. That was not so fun.

    Julie – At my thinnest (around a size 6), I was still a DD or E cup, too. I definitely never get anywhere near flat chested. Also, I am…not tall…and I think I carry it off just fine. :) At least your boss had the humility to be embarrassed.

  8. I went through something similar recently – I was a 34B and always felt like that was too small, that probably a C would be perfect on me. Then I got pregnant and gained a cup size almost overnight! All of a sudden I felt huge, my clothes didn’t fit “right” anymore, and I started looking forward to being a B-cup again someday.

    While D’Souza was surely snarking unnecessarily, I think we also get attached to our own body shapes. Waking up with a different size of boob is going to make your body feel sort of alien, not the body you’re used to. I’d probably feel the same way if I woke up with a different shoe size or whatever.

    I’d gotten so used to the “my boobs are too small” self-criticism … maybe I felt like I had to replace it with some other negative belief?

  9. Damn, she thinks she looks like a 12-year-old with a 34B bust? I frequently do the laundry around here, and I know that both my sister and mom wear A cups. (Can’t remember the band sizes offhand.) They both look great. Their tits are proportioned to their bodies, imagine that! It kinda throws me for a loop when ElectroSis wears padded bras- it just doesn’t look like her- but hey, whatever makes her happy is fine with me.

    As for myself, I wear a B or C, depending on style and manufacturer. I should probably get measured, I suspect my current band is too big, since it constantly rides up. Old bras notwithstanding, I think the girls look just fine. They’re proportional to my body. I most certainly don’t look like a preteen. (Hell, I didn’t look like a preteen when I was one… waitresses would call me “ma’am” when I was in sixth grade and give my mom and I weird looks when she ordered for me.) My cleavage is one of the few parts of my body that I love and value even during my darkest days of body hatred.

    Stories like this lady’s make me sad.

  10. “Now I long to go braless, to wear all those pretty little spaghetti strapped tops, to have that elegant, cherry-pipped silhouette that all the models in the magazines have.”

    Hey, uh, D’Souza? I’m a 38D and I go braless almost every day. Just sayin’. The way I see it, bras are a tool of the patriarchy, and aren’t automatically a necessity for big boobed people (except, of course, when they are).

  11. Yeah, my best friend is naturally pretty thin and wears a 34A-B. She thinks they’re too small (when she weighed 10-15 lbs. more, she was a C cup and I think she misses having bigger boobs), but I think she looks great. There is nothing wrong with her body, and I wish she could see that.

    I used to think I wanted a reduction. I hated having large breasts when I was a teenager, and I do still sometimes think that men see my tits before they see anything else about me. But ultimately, this is my body and this is the way it was made. I don’t want to mess with that.

  12. Julie, once when I was shopping for bras, a woman next to me grabbed a bra and said to no one in particular “This is for the tiny girls who get boob jobs!” It was my size.

  13. I, too, have to post about the use of the word “congenital.” I believe the word she was searching for was NATURAL. I’m not here to look down on her for doing something “unnatural” to her body, but to notice how the surgery has colored her feelings about large-breastedness in general; now it’s a flaw, something generated pathologically.

  14. It kind of startles me that this woman treats changing her body around like I would treat a haircut or new clothes. If her body doesn’t fit the current clothes style, more surgery! I’m floored by the money spent and the willingness to go through the pain.

  15. Ugh, this really depressed me for some reason. The combination of the self-hatred and the utter normalization of the self-hatred I guess. It seems to hopeless to ever get across that there is another way. Not to mention, I always have to wonder when I read articles like this what people are thinking when they look at my boobs.

  16. Yeah, I’m short, petite and a 34 DD or DDD. Funny how that’s somehow both seen as some impossible ideal but then described as freakish when it actually exits, ain’t it?

  17. I have a tip for my large breasted sisters who have trouble with sports bras: don’t get the unadjustable ones that come in pretty colors. Instead look for sports bras that look more or less like a normal bra that comes in normal bra sizes, with adjustable straps. I like the Champion brand without underwire because I think they’re more comfortable, but some of them can be a challenge to get into and out of. I’ve walked up to other women in the locker room more than once to ask for help getting my bra fastened.

  18. Electrogirl, I know what you are getting at, but the use of ‘proportional to [your] body’ is problematic. My step mum is death fat and has never gone above a B – she constantly feels awful that she doesn’t have ‘proportional’ big boobs (the fact my sister and I are smaller than her, but are both around Gs doesn’t help when she feels that way). People expect her to have larger breasts than she does, and have been disappointed she doesn’t (pre my dad – though I think my dad may have one :/).

    On the other hand my housemate it one of those rare size 6/8 (UK) women who naturally wears an E cup and has been shamed for ‘not being proportionate’ that way and accused of having surgery she’s never had.

  19. It has taken a lot for me to be at peace with my boobs. My husband calls them the fraternal twins. I can laugh now, but the fact that they were not the same size was mortifying as a teenager. It was made worse by my first visit to the gynecologist who told my 17 year old self that I should get implants to even them out. At least I had the sense, even then, to be outraged. But it did add to that body-shaming feeling, for sure. Since then, I’ve come to accept it – it’s just the way I am. And so what? I think it’s such a shame that the woman in the article felt so badly about her body that she thought all that surgery would help. I’ve found it much more constructive to put the energy into learning to love myself, “flaws” and all!

  20. Apsalar, that’s definitely a major problem. I’m a runner, so I need a damn good bra to keep the girls from getting out of hand. One of those regular over the head shelf bras would definitely never cut it. Champion doesn’t make my size, but I’d recommend Title Nine and Figleaves to anyone who needs larger sized sports bras, especially the women with small ribcages and large boobs.

    This reminds me – my gym has all the machines lined up facing mirrors. This means that I can see when the guy on the machine next to me is oh-so-sneakily staring at my tits as I run. Ew.

  21. that’s really sad. and it’s hitting a little close to home, as i had a breast reduction exactly 13 days ago. i’m still getting used to my smaller breasts. before surgery, i was a 46h or i, depending on the bra. of course, the various bras i owned were varying sizes from 46ddd to the proper sizes (which still fit really poorly, thanks lane bryant).

    now, still bandaged, i did a preliminary measurement and i think i will be a 44d, although, *shrug* who knows?

    i was tired of shoulder and back pain, and not having any bras that actually fit properly. i don’t know, i had a few moments of “i shouldn’t have done this” when i was being prepped for surgery (they almost didn’t let my husband and family come back to see me before i went under! oh, i was scared!) and post-surgery while i was loopy and kinda painful… and a few more moments as i’ve been healing, but being able to stand up straight is good. no more shoulder or back pain. i’m hoping the hump forming at the base of my neck will go away, too.

    i guess i’m rambling about all this, and sad that this author hates herself and her body so much.

  22. I went bra shopping last weekend and ended up with a couple 44Gs.

    And I do see my feet in the shower. I lean forward. Not sure why this is impossible for D’Souza.

  23. Its like the way fashion designers habitually sell bathing suits that are cut to cover much less pubic hair than most women naturally have, so you feel like you’ve got to shave or wax for them. The tail wagging the dog, if you ask me.

    Dunno about the rest of y’all, but it is not physically possible to make a swimsuit that covers all pubic hair on me, functions as a swimsuit and is not a wetsuit. Part of this is due to the shape of my thighs… doesn’t matter how you cut the fabric, or what kind of grippers you install in the leg openings, if there is skintight fabric between the fold of my leg and the point where my thigh narrows a good 8″ down… it’s not staying there.

    From an engineering standpoint, either some pubic hair can show, or I’m in a wetsuit. Since the “some pubic hair” option is easier to engineer into a comfortable racing suit that doesn’t need to be fully custom, that’s what I prefer.

  24. I read the article on Jezebel which was covering another article about this type of reporting: women who self-loathe. It’s true that this article is full of self-loathing and hard to read. And the other articles mentioned are similar. They are so naked in their “confessions” of something physical being dealt with they are hard to read.

    As a writer, I understand wanting to be naked, to bare the soul and get to the heart of the matter on the essay, but these stories are just car wrecks that were assigned by an editor. No one learns anything, these women are just showing their scars for money (emotional scars of course).

    As a 42E, I wrestle with my tig bitties every day. I wear a “Last Resort Bra” for working out, and though it is made by Title 9, I am still offended that it is the last resort. If we fatties are so out of shape, why don’t they make reasonably priced and attractive workout gear so we will get our fat asses to the gym? Why can’t I find a less than $70 sports bra that will hold my boobs?

  25. I have spent most of the past decade having to wear two sports ‘minimiser’ bras if I want to go for a run, and having to buy separate bikini bottoms and tops because the tops would never normally fit, of looking improper in anything even vaguely tight.

    The poor, poor woman! My 42DDs and I don’t know a thing about her pain. (ok /snark now)

    Honestly, though, not only is she internalizing the objectification of herself, but she is normalizing the objectification of those of us with Large Tracts of Land (all of you Monty Python fans will get that one) by those wolf-whistling male-gazers.

    While I have empathy for any woman who has obviously had a painful, ongoing struggle with her self-image the way D’Souza clearly has, the socio-cultural underpinnings of her piece are disturbing on far more than a personal level.

  26. @ Acceptable

    Yeah. Fat & flat-chested can be hard, that way. Both in feeling out of proportion, and in people expecting fat to go hand-in-hand with chesty.

    Plus, can I tell you how difficult it is to find high numer-low letter bras? I really need 38-40 around, but in A 36ish is usually the closest I can get. Sometimes I wear a B just for the extra size, but it’s not nearly so comfortable. I’m sure they have more 38A in bra stores, but my budget can really only handle Kohl’s bras.

  27. On the bra tips list: I’m 5’6″, 185 and a 36G. I’ll swear by the Enell bras for sports and Fantasie brand for normal bras (NOT cheap at all – def. wash by hand to make them last). I also swear by the Nordstrom’s bra fittings – they’ll help you find every bra in the store that might fit you. It makes it way easier.

    I’m considering reduction just so I can run around without pain and so I can buy bras for less than $60.

  28. And I do see my feet in the shower. I lean forward. Not sure why this is impossible for D’Souza.

    I know, right? Those times when I’m showering and I have a sudden need to make sure my feet are still there, I can work it out.

  29. As a 34B she can stick it where the sun don’t shine. :p That being said I do wear a padded bra a lot of the time, but when I’m all naked I think my boobs look awesome (along with the rest of me, nach).

    I feel bad for this woman, because clearly it’s not her boobs that are the problem. You really can’t cure self-loathing with body augmentation.

  30. I’m glad mine are large, as they feel ‘proportional’ on my figure, even if they are (and have always been) hangy-downy.

    However, I will never understand why bra band sizes stop at 46/48. I need at least a 50 (maybe more), and I only needed a couple sizes smaller back when I had a severe eating disorder. Am I seriously the only woman in the world with a huge ribcage? And what do clothing manufacturers expect me to do about it?

  31. I just noticed something else:

    …she’s dissatisfied with her post-baby 34B breasts; she gets implants (34E)…

    The hell? She went up THREE cup sizes and can’t figure out why her boobs feel alien to her? If she is naturally a B after having a baby, a nice full C would have been much more natural on her. She does not mention how she is built otherwise but I’m thinking that waking up with Pamela Andersons rack would probably disorient anyone who wasn’t used to it. Do doctors advise increases that drastic?

    Meems — I have heard “You are tall, you can carry it” my whole life about pretty much everything from huge flower prints to the impressive booty I inherited from my grandmother. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a polite way for people to say “Well, on anyone else this would be grotesque but I guess since you aren’t really built like a girl anyway, it’s okay.”

    I’m used to it now but for years it made me feel like Andre the Giant. My father used to introduce me as his “dainty petite little daughter” which made me cringe; one day I realized that I was easily four inches taller than he was and I told him if he ever did it again I was going to pick him up and pitch him out the window. :o)

  32. Oh, also, this is a really minor point, but how can implant-related surgery make you go from a 34D to a 30D? Am I to assume this is one of those situations where she really should have been larger than a D cup and was going up band sizes to compensate or am I missing something?

  33. Okay – first off – porn star boobs equal butch?? Wtf? Maybe it’s regional, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what butch means.

    Second thing I would like to mention about the “hunched” issue. I don’t think she was referring to a structural inability to support her breasts. I think it was more of a “hiding” statement. I have 42 DD breasts and the other women in my family are large breasted also. We have discussed on several occasions the societal impact of having large boobs.

    1. Having a large bosoms and standing up strait, shoulders back, can invite unwanted attention to said rack-o-doom. I’ve noticed many women wo seem to concave a bit to avoid this.

    2. Standing up strait, shoulders back and chest out (and by out I mean in a normal posture) also can come across as “bitchy”. You are taking up space, asserting your right to be and with a big boosom, sometimes that is more noticeable. So again I’ve seen women do the “hunch” thing without even thinking about it. It’s a body language way of being passive and I think its culturally taught.

    @ Imnotemily – I often go braless unless I am in a “professional” environment or feeling particularly vulnerable that day. Bras are really just a left over from the corset and they aren’t a biological impreative rather a fashion statement. IMHO

    Anyway, that’s just some of the experience I’ve had in my adventures with big boobs. On a final note, what the heck doctor convinced this gal that going from a B to an E on such a small frame was really a good idea? bwah?

  34. @ MeToo

    Me, too! (Hah!) But seriously, yes: I have a huge ribcage. With the aforementioned A-cup boobs, when I am flat on my back, my ribs stick out further than my breasts.

    Many a hilarious moment has occurred when I have to kindly inform my boyfriend that, no, that’s actually my ribs

  35. Meems — I have heard “You are tall, you can carry it” my whole life about pretty much everything from huge flower prints to the impressive booty I inherited from my grandmother. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a polite way for people to say “Well, on anyone else this would be grotesque but I guess since you aren’t really built like a girl anyway, it’s okay.”

    I’ve heard that too, Julie. I’m not sure if it’s “you’re not really a girl” or if it’s “you’re tall and have broad shoulders so the proportions look like what I expect.

  36. @farfalla — I wear a 38A, but was struggling for ages trying to fit into 36B’s. I found a lingerie store that was having a sale and basically bought almost all the 38A’s I could find (& afford), for $8-9 apiece. Figured I’d better stock up while I could!

  37. Oh, also, this is a really minor point, but how can implant-related surgery make you go from a 34D to a 30D? Am I to assume this is one of those situations where she really should have been larger than a D cup and was going up band sizes to compensate or am I missing something?

    Yeah, I’m not sure—it’s possible I got that wrong. 30D is the last size she mentioned, but I’m not sure if that was the post-reduction size or post-cancer size. She mentions losing weight (I’m assuming related to the cancer), and it’s implied that the 30D picture is current.

  38. @ janey

    Lucky! And a good idea – I never bother to pay much attention to lingerie shops, ’cause I figure they’re too pricey. But I’ll keep my eye out for sales, now. Thanks :)

  39. Sigh. I have a hell of a complicated relationship with my breasts, I’m discovering.

    My mom and I actually had a really hearty chuckle together over my measurements the other day (46-34-41), the fact that my ribcage and my waist are exactly the same width because I am so short-waisted, and the 12 inch difference between my ribcage and my bust, and all at the absurdity of it (absurd because the other women in my family are be-bosomed much more proportionally; where did my tits come from???!?!).

    I digress. Tits!! I remember I was once accused by an acquaintance of flaunting my breasts at her boyfriend because I was wearing a shirt in front of him. Obviously not exactly those words, but it boiled down to that. Just existing in shared space, in a comfortable top that doesn’t strangle my throat – not even talking to the dude – is now flaunting. Take a memo.

    Columns like this make me self-conscious and paranoid. Like, when I realized my really awesome guy friend only liked to hug me so much because my breasts pressed against him. Or when that fucking list authored by the male students rating all the girls in the junior class came to light and I had “won” Best Titty Hard-On and one my good girl friends got angry. At me. Because I guess it was just so totally awesome to be reduced to my nipples or something.

    Fuck this shit.

  40. Julie – What’s so funny about that is that my Nana, who was only 5’2″, but was a bigger woman with a huge personality, really could carry off those things. She could wear the giant patterns and huge gaudy pieces of jewelry, and on her it looked damn good.

    I also find it interesting that other large breasted women choose to go bra-less. I would never go outside without a bra, not because I’m oppressed by the patriarchy, but because my boobs start to hurt if I walk around with them hangin’ loose!

  41. Sweet suffering succotash, how I hate the Daily Mail. It never ever lets up on this crap. I don’t know why they don’t just change their name to The Self-Loathers’ Handbook and be done with it.

    Personally I love my perfectly proportionate FFs; even though they do sometimes give me back- and neck-ache. So many of my close friends have had or are battling breast cancer right now, (one’s currently on chemo, another radiation), I’m just pleased they’re still attached to me. I certainly won’t be messing with ‘em any time soon.

  42. Heh. I love the way people talk about breasts going in and out of fashion. “Curves are back!” Oh good, because I hate trying to remember which drawer I put my AAs in back in December.

  43. @meems – totally! The swaying and such – if I’m not wearing a bra, I can’t run for a train or run up the stairs and whatnot. It inhibits my freedom of movement if I’m bra-less.

    I forgot – we (meaning Mr.Luci and I) totally weighed my breasts on the kitchen scale and mine weigh just about 18 lbs even. It put some things in perspective, actually.

  44. It also makes us sound like we’re born with huge racks. Which, uh, I wasn’t.

    Me neither, although I’m told I was born with no visible neck.

    I was self-conscious about my Rack O’Doom when it first asserted itself 32 years ago, but one does get used to these things. In fact, unless I’m spilling something on my chest or find my boobs resting on a shelf at teller’s window (who designs those things?), I don’t think about them much. Maybe this is just something that comes with age or maybe one has to have a shot at conventional beauty to worry about something so far down on the list of figure flaws.

    Anyway, I feel very sorry for D’Souza, but she’s not doing herself or any other woman any favors here.

  45. MeToo, I have worn a band size of 50. Of course, the bras are ugly and built like tanks, but they exist. Try onestopplus.com.

    Here’s a question: so many people have sung the virtues of getting a bra fitting that I’ve been thinking about it. But I’m about 300 lbs, and I don’t know of anywhere that does fittings that a) sells bras I can wear and b) won’t look at me like a personal harbinger of the obesity epidemic. Any thoughts?

  46. “I also find it interesting that other large breasted women choose to go bra-less. I would never go outside without a bra, not because I’m oppressed by the patriarchy, but because my boobs start to hurt if I walk around with them hangin’ loose!”

    Hey Meems – wasn’t trying to discount people who want to wear bra’s (not that you implied that). I get that some people feel uncomfortable without a bra just as I feel with one.

    When I first started going braless, it was a little uncomfortable. My doctor at the time said it was because of wearing bras for so long. She said that by not allowing your body to naturally support your breasts – there is some inherent atrophy of the muscle and tissue that would naturally have supported breasts that weren’t put in bras.

    To help with my comfort (and initial modesty) I would wear a A-tshirt (they have them in the mens department – like a long tank top) and that helped to keep things from flailing wildly about. As I got use to going braless it got more comfortable. Now I gripe incessantly when I have to wear one. My husband laughs because I whip that puppy off as soon as I can!

  47. Oh, I should have added: current bra size 48B. As other people have pointed out, it’s not that bras in the larger bands don’t exist, but everybody expects you to have the larger cup size to go with it.

  48. @Livia_Augusta – Same bra size and i agree with you completely on everything. Nordies is the place to go for bra sizing. And Enells don’t let anything move. A wonderful thing when you’re jogging on the treadmilll. (Not that fat people do that, you know…. unless we’re danging Cheetos in front of our faces, snort.)

    I’m short and have huge boobs and stand up straight. I also nurse in public. I gotta say – having them turn functional completely changed my relationship with my breasts… instead of being an annoying overlarge pair of attention-getters that don’t let me wear button down shirts, they’ve now nourished 3 babies and deserve my thanks.

  49. Muse: I’ve never gotten a speck of body hate from the various bra-store employees who have fitted me (I’m around 250, and 5’0″, usually around 46H). A lot of the bra stores *don’t* carry my size, but at least they give me a starting point for online shopping.

    Other than that, lingerie store recommendations are usually regional. Where do you live?

  50. My younger sister is broad-chested, wears an A cup and also has the previously-mentioned ribs that stick out further than her bust. Since she loves to dance, she’s delighted at this – she can go without a bra, add padding as desired and jump up and down without pain.

    On the other hand, I’m a smidge over five feet tall and generally wear a 32F (I also own a bra or two in 30G) and have an incredibly narrow rib cage and narrowly-set shoulders. Since I’ve never known anything different, I’m also perfectly happy with this, particularly now that I’ve invested in some bras with serious engineering that lift, separate and keep my back happy. (I spent the a not-that-small fortune at Rigby and Peller in London, and it’s some of the best money I’ve ever laid out.) I briefly considered a reduction when I was younger after getting teased once too often, but my very wise mother said that, absent any physical or medical complications, there was no reason to change something that worked well and looked fine.

    By far the bigger problem is other people’s reactions. My sister gets commiserations for being the flat-chested one compared to me (since she’s happy with her looks, I suppose she’s deluded). I get lewd jokes, accusations of surgery (I do look a bit like a much plumper version of Jessica Rabbit), passing referrals for reduction surgery, and puzzled looks that my general inability to wear most buttoned shirts without safety pins doesn’t leave me crying myself to sleep at night. Oh, and conversations are frequently directed downwards at my cleavage, since most people are apparently both taller and shallower than me. Yet I’m happy when I look in the mirror! I like my shape! (I suppose I’m deluded too and must secretly be a too-butch porn star in disguise rather than a bespectacled would-be academic.)

    Why is it so hard for the unenlightened to believe that being outside either end of the narrow range described as “normal” is not traumatic in the slightest, and that breast size need not be at the centre of a woman’s identity? I mean, I have my sources of anxiety, but that’s really not one of them.

  51. Muse: I don’t know the stores in Philly too well, but if you’re ever day-tripping towards DC, I cannot say enough good things about Dor-Ne Corset Shop in Silver Spring, MD. I’ve heard lots of people speak highly of Intimacy in NY, but I haven’t been there myself.

  52. @ Karen

    Woah! I live in Silver Spring – I will have to check that one out, budget be damned. Thanks for the tip!

  53. @Muse of Ire

    Same bra size. Same question about bra fittings. In Chicago.

    Thanks for the tip regarding onestopplus.com. I’ll check them out.

  54. [I]She said that by not allowing your body to naturally support your breasts – there is some inherent atrophy of the muscle and tissue that would naturally have supported breasts that weren’t put in bras. [/I]

    I’ve gone braless as much as I could almost since I’ve had breasts, and I’ve always had a rack. At 40D, mine still stand way up and I suspect it’s because I did not artificially support them any more than I had to. It’s interesting that we were always told not wearing a bra would make them droop when actually the reverse is true – always wearing a bra atrophies the muscles that would ordinarily hold them up.

    Lucizoe — I have been accused of “flaunting” mine as well. As tall as I am, my bosom is right up there on display most of the time. It took me years to get comfortable wearing clothes that weren’t baggy enough to hide my rack because I was told so many times to quit sticking my boobs in peoples faces.

    I finally came to the conclusion that it is seriously not my fault that people’s faces are at eye level with my bosom. They can just shut their eyes if they don’t want to look. Or, hey, they can look me in the eye, how about that?

  55. @Muse – 260 and 38K when I went in for my last bra fitting.
    I went to a small boutique, though Nordstrom’s also works.
    I’ve found that the women who work in those areas have ‘seen it all’ and are wonderfully helpful.

    I had been wearing a band 2 sizes too big and a cup 2 sizes too small. The assistant’s comment ‘Well, you’re just tiny aren’t you?’
    That was a first.

  56. Clearly, D’Souza thought she was getting magical implants that would make her life perfect and cause her to shit rainbows and kittens and lollipops constantly. Just like some people have a Fantasy of Having Big Breasts™, a Fantasy of Having a Smaller Nose™, or, y’know, that old chestnut, the Fantasy of Being Thin™ and they think that changing one thing will be the catalyst to everlasting happiness. Only her problem wasn’t that her breasts were too small, her problem is she doesn’t love herself.

    Clearly she didn’t really consider the consequences of getting such large implants. What a crazy-drastic change! One wonders if her doctor tried to recommend smaller ones and she wouldn’t budge, or if the doc was totally clueless, too.

  57. But seriously, yes: I have a huge ribcage

    I have an opera singer’s ribcage, too—wish I had the talent to go with it—which seemed designed to support what used to be fabulous DDs.

    They are still fabulous, but after feeding a kid, going through an restrictive eating disorder (‘Where did they go?”), rebounding (“They’re back!”), and feeding another kid (who is still using the Mommy pacifier at bedtime) I found out that the reason my *$^%^ straps were always falling down was that I’m now a C.

    Honestly, I’m surprised I don’t care more. Shouldn’t I be in mourning, or even cheering because I’m smaller? Does FA have to take the drama out of everything? :^D

  58. Well, first, I read this blog a lot but comment very little because I’m not very good at writing, so, hi!!

    I just wanted to comment here because I too found very offensive some of the things that woman said, as if big breasted women were some kind of freaks that only belong in porn magazines, I am a 34 H I believe (I’m not really sure because I use an online convertor most of the time, but it’s 110 cm really), 125 pounds, and short as hell (5′ 1), so there’s no height to ballance them out. I’ve been dealing with a lot of insecurities because of that since I was very young. I was a very childish girl at 13 and the attention bothered me greatly, so I started gaining weight (then my weight bothered me greatly, of course).

    Anyyyway it took me a long time to learn to love myself the way I am (though if I get backpains later in life, they’re totally coming out, sorry girls), and some time ago being called everything from a freak of nature to an inelegant butch transvestite would have hurt my feelings, but now I just feel bad for that woman because she clearly has fallen prey to the false premise under which plastic surgery is sold: “hate yourself? we’ll cut you open, make you look more socially acceptable, and then it will all be alright!”. I see nothing wrong with someone changing something in particular they don’t like, but women need to understand that plastic surgery is not an automatic self esteem builder. And if it should ever act as such, I’m sorry to say you’re probably measuring your self worth with the wrong measuring tape.

    Also, I found this quote particularly funny: “Meanwhile, other women were completely fascinated by them, without being in the least bit envious. Oh God, what had I done?” Of course, what’s the point of doing anything for myself if other women are not going to think less of themselves whenever I walk into a room?

    Oh, and really, is leaning forward that hard?

  59. I have spent most of the past decade having to wear two sports ‘minimiser’ bras if I want to go for a run, and having to buy separate bikini bottoms and tops because the tops would never normally fit, of looking improper in anything even vaguely tight.

    It seems like she was suffering from some kind of delusional Fantasy of Being Busty when she got the implants. I mean, if she wore the same size bikini top and bottom when she was a B cup, how could it be a surprise that that would no longer be true when her bust went up three cup sizes? It’s the same with blouses – if they fit when she was a “B”, of course she would be bursting out of them as an “E”. It just seems like common sense.

    On the other hand, I had a B-ish cupped housemate who told me that she thought sports bras were a “scam” to try and get women to buy specialized athletic gear they didn’t need. Maybe that kind of ignorance about what it’s like to live in a body shaped differently from one’s own is not unusual.

  60. I personally appreciate places like Intimacy (locations in Boston, NYC, etc) that do fittings by fit, rather than measurement, which is less accurate.

    And I’m not offended by any of the bra-less commentary. Do what works for you. I don’t think that sag has as much to do with wearing a bra or not as much as genetics. I’ve worn a bra since I started getting breasts at 8 or so, and they’re still pretty sagless considering their size…

  61. Re: button-up shirts: I buy plain sports bras, in solid colors, and wear them under button-up shirts. That way I can leave the “gapping” buttons open, it looks like I’ve got a tank top underneath without being all bunchy, and it gives me support and cleavage. Which, I’m just going to get snarked at for sticking my boobs in peoples faces anyway so I might as well make them look good. LMAO

    Anyway the sports bra trick works well with button-up shirts. Otherwise I have to use safety pins.

  62. Chalk me into the high #/ low letter column. Unlike all the other women in my family I have C-cup breasts (not as hard to find in 46/48 as A and B, I know). I swear I stunted my own growth as a teenager because I hated having breasts so much. I started getting them early and I already felt like enough of a freak for being the only fat girl in class. I didn’t need a body that was getting even more abnormal. (Hunh. I never really figured out that was why I loathed my breasts so much until just now. Wow.)

    Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had the D cups my sisters have, because there seems to be an attitude that fat women who have big breasts “at least” have big tits. I know that goes right back to what Marianne blogged about today, that the only standard for women is to look fuckable to men. I try not to think that way but it’s hard not to slip into “at least that way my body would be slightly more acceptable” thinking.

    DRST

  63. Ugh, what a painful story. My story — at age 19 or 20 I went from around 34H (I think, anyway — I never really found a bra that fit and supported me) to a 32 or 34 C or D (some variation there over the years). I’m 5’2″ and I had a lot of pain in my back and chest; the surgery was covered by my insurance because the doctors agreed it was for the sake of my back and spine, not a cosmetic procedure. Breast reduction surgery was one of the best things that ever happened to me (anecdotally: I’ve yet to meet or hear of anyone who regretted having a reduction, although I’m sure there are many whose stories I’ve not heard).

    But that doesn’t mean that anybody who’s 5’2″ and a 34H ought to have reduction surgery. Everybody’s bodies are shaped differently, and I’ve known people who were similarly “proportioned” who are happy that way, and not in significant pain. I had the surgery because I was in constant pain, and had been since I was 15, with the likelihood being it would get worse as I got older (especially if I chose to have kids) — and after the surgery, I was no longer in pain. Despite feeling like I’d been run over by a train, as the woman in the article says, my back immediately felt better.

    Before the surgery, I went back and forth about liking or hating my big breasts — but I love my breasts now, despite all the scarring (unlike my other surgery scars, some of it hasn’t faded much, even after 10 years), because they don’t HURT me. “Ending constant pain” strikes me as a pretty good reason to have reduction surgery. Being able to wear spaghetti strap tops is nice, but that’s not why I did it — changing the size of your body in order to match a fashion trend seems like a recipe for disaster. Poor woman. Some of her pain I can sympathize with, but boy, am I grateful I never felt that kind of body shame.

  64. I’m bemused that she imagined that she might look like Jessica Rabbit because in her before picture she does not have much hip/waist difference. But in no way does she look butch post-surgery. I’m wondering if she’s met any nice butches before, or if just the added bulk of the breasts made her feel more masculine?

  65. Jesus mother of Christ. I read the Liz Jones piece referenced in the Jezebel article and this:

    All this eating has proved what I thought all along: food makes you soft, lazy, undisciplined.

    is so completely insane I don’t even know what to do with it. Eating is an unusual activity for her; food=undisciplined; yet the tagline describes her as a “former” anorexic? In what UNIVERSE? More exploitative misogynistic bullshit from the Daily Mail. They genuinely think all women are weight-obsessed, self-hating creatures — or if they aren’t, bigod, they should be! It’s all wrong.

  66. It occurs to me that the reason *some* large breasted women hunch is the same reason some tall women do:

    We aren’t supposed to take up space. We’re told that these breasts are teh sexeh, but if we actually HAVE them, oh no, too sexy, too much. So we hunch to make ourselves smaller.

    I was the rare size 0-2 as a teen with 30D breasts and no rear, and it was no picnic. I did have to learn to stand straight and essentially, aim ‘em high–but at least as a 30D I was still in the “Playboy” category rather than the “freakish” category.

    These days its more of a 30G/32G depending. And let me tell you, the inquiries as to why I haven’t cut my breasts off–and I defy you to use a eupehmism–are legion. They MUST be causing me problems! And why oh why do I insist on wearing low cut shirts? Clearly this is too much and whorish. And how dare I complain when I am still “skinny?” But oh, if I lost some weight my breasts would shrink, donchaknow, because Breasts Are Flab, and Flab disappears with Diet and Exercise. (let’s leave aside that the old chest is the first place I gain weight).

    Not to mention the fact that while I don’t have it as bad as my plus size sisters, nearly nothing in any given store fits. I went “shopping” today. Yeah, that was fun. With the new weight since I gained I have that thing where both my bust and hips are exactly (it’s weird) 10 inches larger than my waist. The clothes, they are not cut for this.

    A poster upsteam mentioned getting accused of hitting on a girlfriend’s husband essentially for having big breasts and not wearing a sack. I had the exact same thing happen to me, except in my case I dared to not wear a bra under a (baggy) t-shirt. She kicked me out of her apartment the next day.

    Sigh. If there are other large busted girls on this thread, let me pass on what I’ve found to be good resources:

    Herroom.com
    the Enell sports bra
    Chantelle if you can afford it, Wacoal and Fantasie are good too.
    Intimacy (in Houston, Boston, New York) is expensive but good.

    Against all odds I love mine. Probably due to a supportive mother who told me to flaunt them if I had them, and a husband who is…appreciative ;-)

  67. Yeah, I’m not so convinced that sag is due to wearing bras instead of just genetics, at least not with bras that fit right. But I don’t really know.

    As a 34B she can stick it where the sun don’t shine. :p

    :(

    I mean, I’m not a 34, but I’m a B-cup, generally.

    Anyway. I think this comment thread is, tangentially, excellent support for the suggestion that everyone’s experiences in their body are different from everyone else’s. Some people have pain with large breasts, some don’t, some large-busted women feel the need to wear bras, and some don’t, some small-breasted women can jump up and down all day with no sports bra and no pain, and some can’t (that would be me), etc. etc.

    “Curves are back!” Oh good, because I hate trying to remember which drawer I put my AAs in back in December.

    lol

  68. Sorry to serial post but:

    She said that by not allowing your body to naturally support your breasts – there is some inherent atrophy of the muscle and tissue that would naturally have supported breasts that weren’t put in bras.

    WAIT WAIT WAIT WHAT WAIT

    I’m roughly a 36DD at this point and I hate bras (HATE) and also can’t afford ones that will support the DDs in a useful fashion, but I’ve always worn them because I thought not wearing a bra makes your breats sag, and mine have been a bit downward-pointing since they first appeared so I didn’t want them to go any further.

    DOES NOT WEARING A BRA SERIOUSLY NOT MAKE/LET YOURS BREASTS SAG EARLIER?

    WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME?

  69. Ah–

    I forgot the indignity of being asked by saleswomen–“But don’t you want a *minimizer,* dearie? No, you nitwit, I would not.

  70. I will admit that I’m feeling a little hostile towards my boobs today because I am going to get my period any… second… now… and I swear they are two cup sizes bigger than normal and SO SORE that I nearly cried when I got an elbow in my tit on a super crowded train this morning, like I swear they are just throbbing and I’m not even doing anything other than sitting here, but wow. That is nothing like how this poor woman feels towards her own dear body.

    It’s a hard mindset to inhabit (as I’m sure most of us well know). It must just be exhausting.

  71. [H]er article perpetuates the distortions about the female body that are so prevalent in our culture. … 34E is a “massive” size, but 34B looks likw a 12-year-old. The range of acceptable racks, like the range of acceptable dress sizes, is shockingly narrow. On either size, you’re not “really” a woman at all: you’re a transvestite or a prepubescent, unwomanly, unnatural even if what we are talking about is your natural body.

    Yes, this.

    I wonder if I, with my 38 borderline A/B boobs on a 5’8″, 190-pound body, even exist in her universe.

    When the “extremes” of female body types are thought to be so close together, what happens to everyone who’s outside them?

  72. The self hatred in that article is so depressing.

    I have friends with small breasts and friends with large breasts. All of them are self-conscious about their size. It’s the whole idea of either not having enough, or having too much. Nobody’s perfect, and we’re all ashamed.

    One of my friends with a large chest gets hit on constantly in public, even though she’s married. Both of us have commented that it seems like a lot of guys see a pair of large breasts as an invitation to hit on her. We’ve seen guys literaly sit across the room and stare at her chest. It’s disgusting.

    The thing about not seeing her feet in the shower reminded me of something I did while out shopping yesterday. I looked down to see if I could see my feet over my stomach, and I couldn’t. I sucked in my stomach as much as I could, and I still couldn’t see my feet because my breasts were in the way. That’s when I had this moment where I was like “Hmm, even if I was thin, I couldn’t see my feet anyway because of my chest.” When I was in middle school, I kept track of how fat I was by seeing if I could look down and see my toes (I got that idea from reading “Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade). If I couldn’t see my toes, that meant I was too fat. Knowing that even if I was thin, I couldn’t look down and see my toes was like having a mini epiphany.

    I guess I’m okay with the size of my chest. To be honest, I don’t think about it very much, probably because I’m usually hating other parts of my body. :(

  73. Oooo chava, I had a very early proto-FA moment of clarity while shopping for bras in the early 90s. On one rack? Wonder Bras, designed to make your boobs like cup sizes bigger, Bird Chest! On the next rack? Minimizers, to make your tig old bitties look cup sizes smaller, Bubbles!

    Whatever you are, it is just not the right thing to be.

  74. And let me tell you, the inquiries as to why I haven’t cut my breasts off–and I defy you to use a eupehmism–are legion.

    I… kind of think that’s the opposite of a euphemism, actually. “Breast reduction surgery” is pretty accurate! You should by no means be getting lectured by other people that you should be getting surgery, I mean, jesus, but clearly reduction surgery has been something some other women have found beneficial. Like upthread. It’s not all bad or all good.

    Caitlin, I’m really not sure that’s a universal truth about bras! I wouldn’t doubt that it’s a possible side effect of wearing bras, especially badly fitting ones, but I’m still feeling kind of skeptical about this new information.

  75. Yeah, I’m not so convinced that sag is due to wearing bras instead of just genetics, at least not with bras that fit right. But I don’t really know

    I should clarify: I think sag is perfectly natural and probably mostly genetic. The part I (and the doctor I talked to) were referring to was feeling “pain” at going bra less.

    LOL don’t want anyone to think I’m anti-sag!

    Actually sag is something I have come to love about my body and appreciating it as an evolution of self. Part of what helped was looking at some pictures online that normalized women’s bodies in a non-sexual way.

    NSFW!!

    http://www.007b.com/breast_gallery.php

    and for those ladies who have children (or even those who don’t but still want to see what non-magazine women look like)

    http://theshapeofamother.com/

    Both of these blogs were profound in my FA journey and in helping me learn to accept my saggy, big boobs.

  76. This made me sad, and reminded me how many people really need FA principles, even if they are not fat.

  77. I skimmed the comment thread, but has anyone gotten into her transphobia here?

    The truth was I felt like a transvestite. Instead of giving me the desired Jessica Rabbit silhouette, the implants had made me feel butch (if you don’t have the hourglass waist to begin with, that’s what happens).

    Aside from the whole homophobia issue–perhaps she just didn’t want to look butch, although I doubt it–this screams transphobia to me. We wouldn’t want to look like a transvestite because they are FAKE women.

  78. Wow, talk about timely posting.

    I gave birth on Sunday. My milk came in, literally, in the last 24 hours. So I empathize with looking in the mirror and thinking, “oh my god, I look like a porn star” thing, but not even size so much as that with the engorgement, my breasts have that “rock hard, perfectly round” perky look. My breasts have not been perky on their own for years. They hurt like hell though.

    Interesting thought- (which might be more appropriate to another post someday.) I understand that since so many porn stars/actresses have breast implants that we associate that look with that profession. But how did that “desired” appearance develop over the years to look like a nursing mother?? (breasts larger than her frame would naturally have, unusually round and firm and non-sagging)

  79. volcanista–

    I do think that for those rare women with back problems it can be helpful, as we saw upthread. But in my experience the women who I have known in RL who were pressured to or actually got the surgery were not experiencing physical issues. If they were, surgery was proposed to them before good bras or weight lifting. One girl felt uncomfortable because of the sexual harassment, another because she was very religious and didn’t like the male attention (birds of a feather).

    And, again, having to cut your breasts off because our culture harasses women to the point where we feel like we HAVE to cut them off doesn’t seem logical or beneficial. I mean, I could see where she was coming from, but still.

    I said “cut them off” because this conveys the essential violence of what others are suggesting I do to my body, not because I do not think that for some women, having them “reduced” is not the right choice.

  80. What I got out of that article: you can’t win. But you can quit the game and just learn to accept yourself, as you are now and as you will be. Because as others have posted above and as I’ve experienced, your breasts change size over time. And shape, too. (And no one ever bothered to tell me this.)

    I’m a recent 36 DDD, thanks to a combination of factors. And it’s frustrating as all hell because many of the bras that do come in a DDD only go down to a band size 38. Missed it by THAT much.

    I haven’t gone braless in a long time because I find it very uncomfortable. Skinny Dipping and Nekked Hot Tubbing are worse – the latter is akin to torture with my breasts being pulled this way and that by the water jets. It’s not a sexy feeling at all. Your mileage probably will vary :).

  81. Hey, I did something a bit like that!

    Well, I had 30AA boobs, got pregnant and gradually went up to 34B (ooh, I felt glam!), had a baby, was suddenly overnight unable to fit into a 38EE (which did actually fit on my head, and was the largest nursing bra available the day my mother went to the shop), and now my second baby is almost 3 years old and I’m a 30F.

    Only I didn’t hate myself for any of it so (apart from being able to wear a bra on my head, and squirt milk across a room) I didn’t think much of it.

  82. Since people are asking bra questions, I guess I’ll be brave and ask mine: I’m a 32C and I like not wearing a bra, although I don’t do it in public-I stopped when my best friend noticed my nipples at a Ruby Tuesdays lol-but I’ve noticed that my nipples will get really sore if I don’t wear a bra sometimes. My mom says it’s from friction, but it happens on the days when I’m not wearing a bra because I’m just sitting around the house! Weird. Is there a way to be braless and not have sore nipples? Or to have nipples show?

  83. Ugh, the minimizer. No, since I am already buying a 34E or F bra that costs upwards of $70, I do not need it to be even more uncomfortable, thank you very much. Maybe there are minimizer styles that aren’t hellaciously uncomfy, but I’ve never found one.

    What a sad article. And yeah, I really don’t like the way she seems to pathologize large breasts. I’ve been living with them forever, and sure, there’s a part of me that sometimes wistfully wonders what it would be like to always find a bra in the right size, no matter what store I’m in, but that’s not enough for me to surgically change my body (and I am lucky to not be in pain with the large rack, so thank Maude for that).

  84. Volcanista, it is indeed nice to hear about everyone’s different shapes and experiences – even in families and among friends who are happy to discuss these things, there’s not always a wide enough range to feel secure about being apparently ‘different.’

    Mary, we should set up some sort of “short and busty” club. (And incidentally, why o why do people think any natural feature needs to be balanced out by height???)

    Re: sagginess, I think there’s definitely a genetic component – my mother’s pretty anti-bra yet downward pointing; I’m not really (physically) comfortable out and about without a parachute harness yet sag too. Not that it’s much of an issue. If someone’s that uncomfortable seeing me droop when out of a bra then they’ve lost the right to do so.

    And for those who’ve commented on having problems when flaunting cleavage, I’ve got comments both on that and on *not* flaunting when I’m wearing a higher neckline. Personally, I opt to be more conservative since as a shortie most people can see straight down my tops from above anyway. But the fashion bibles disagree with this approach too. Clearly a sack is called for.

  85. Oh, I’ve only known adult women, not girls, who were experiencing a lot of pain and finally decided to have surgery, and benefited from it. And upthread there were certainly testamonials from women who were in pain and benefited from surgery. It’s not that rare. But it makes me really sad that you know girls who were pressured into unnecessary surgery. That’s all kinds of wrong.

    As for the terminology, I can see why you use it to describe it in the context of your own body. Not sure it’s fair to apply it as a general term to the women who chose that route and benefited from it (and decry the medical terminology as a “euphemism”), though.

  86. KC Jones–

    Maybe try putting those stick-on pasties on them to reduce friction from your shirt? I bet it is friction, even from just sitting around the house.

  87. @ KC Jones

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=2679296

    I toss on one of these under my t-shirt. The length lets me tuck them into my pants/shorts. Having them tucked in I find it gives a little “structure” and my boobs don’t flop wildly about (during normal activities/walking etc) Not having as much movement, my nipples also didn’t get as tender. Dunno if that helps at all. You could also try a really soft camisole under your t-shirt too.

  88. Caitlin, ha, I was trying to make you feel better about having suffered. If you want to use this hypothesis as a reason to stop wearing bras, go for it, I say!

    KC, if you find an easy way to keep the nipples under control without a bra, please let us know!! I could seriously knock people over with my headlights sometimes, but do not necessarily need a bra under all circumstances otherwise.

  89. volcanista–

    I think that it is a fair term to use in the context of the larger societal pressures to have reduction surgery. I see where you are coming from in the sense that for women who have elected to have the surgery for medical reasons, they might be offended by my wording. (ladies, I apologize if that was the case)

    Also, medical terminology CAN be euphemistic and harmful, covering up what is truly happening to bodies. For example, intersex babies often get “assignment” surgery, I would call it genital mutilation.

  90. Since people are asking bra questions, I guess I’ll be brave and ask mine: I’m a 32C and I like not wearing a bra, although I don’t do it in public-I stopped when my best friend noticed my nipples at a Ruby Tuesdays lol-but I’ve noticed that my nipples will get really sore if I don’t wear a bra sometimes. My mom says it’s from friction, but it happens on the days when I’m not wearing a bra because I’m just sitting around the house! Weird. Is there a way to be braless and not have sore nipples? Or to have nipples show?

    KC Jones, try Body Glide. I know male runners who swear by it for nipples. Apparently they can actually bleed from the friction if you run marathon-length distances without it.

  91. Well, I mean, I don’t like the word “obesity,” for example, because it’s a term that assigns moral value. But “breast reduction surgery” is very literal and explicit. It is surgery that reduces the size of a breast, whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

  92. volcanista–

    Well, I think it depends on your perspective. “Obesity” absent societal context does not assign moral value, it is simply a medical word indicating a certain weight.

    “Weight loss surgery” might be a better analogy, or “gastric bypass.” It is a surgery that yes, will reduce weight–but how, and at what cost, are entirely left out of the frame. Also left out are the plethora of societal incentives to have this surgery while simultaneously erasing the terrible side effects the surgery can have.

    Now, breast reduction surgery does not have as many of these potential side effects. But it certainly does play into a societal narrative of how women should “reduce” at any cost, and ANY surgery presents risks to one’s health and possible harmful side effects.

    I think we can talk about both WLS and women who have undergone the surgery without disappearing the negative context in which these choices are presented, and one way to do that is to use terminology that does NOT disappear the negative side of the procedure. Hence, “cut off.”

  93. Okay, that testimonials section is fantastic. It is officially the first time I have heard of a man referring to his nipples as the “Guys.”

  94. Also, volcanista–

    I don’t know if you were objecting earlier to my interchanging “women” and “one girl” because you do not use “girl” to mean “woman”–

    In any case, that particular girl was, well, a girl at the time (late teens). The other woman I was speaking of was an adult.

  95. But you just used the term WLS to talk about… WLS. And so do I, knowing that surgery is an awful option, because it’s still an accurate term.

  96. I think I wasn’t clear–

    I think it would be an acceptable radical option to refer to WLS as “having your stomach chopped in half” or other similarly graphic terminology which describes what goes on absent the medical distancing and clinical vocabulary, in order to convey the awfulness of it as an option.

    “Accurate term” is very much in the eye of the beholder, fwiw.

  97. @ Volcanista –

    yeah, I think I know too much about those particular consumers nipples now. lol

  98. and. . . uhmm. . .did you get to the one who wrote a poem?

    LOL remembering how successful our rendition of Fat Bohemian Rhapsody was – we should write a wrack-o-doom song.

  99. Congratulations, fuzzyoctopus!

    I have to say, I have the exact same breasts as my mom. Like, exactly the same, even though she’s 37 years older than me and has nursed children. So I have to err on the side of genetics in terms of shape and perkiness, personally.

  100. Sorry if it’s O/T, but:

    “The truth was I felt like a transvestite.”

    Okay, I do not at all think that women with large breasts are at all transvestite-ish (and being that I wear an E cup I don’t see why I would :) ), but one thing I find interesting about transvestites is that they show us all how so much of what is considered “natural gender differences” is actually just artifice. Femininity in particular tends to be performed and we’re told and told and told that whatever it is (be it clothing, beauty routines, whatever) is supposed to be what comes naturally and the products and the work is only there to make up for our deficiencies. That transvestites tend to be right in your face with the work and the artifice that goes into performing femininity is interesting.

    Um, anyway, I think that plastic surgery can often fall into this performance, so in a way I kind of understand the remark. All of a sudden there’s a rather sizeable reminder sitting on your chest that although this may be what’s considered beautiful or feminine it’s not at all a natural thing for you and you had to go to great lengths to achieve it . Does she actually get that? Probably not. But I thought it was interesting.

    End of O/T rant :)

  101. Yay, fuzzyoctopus! How lovely.

    I have to say, I have the exact same breasts as my mom.

    Now I’m wondering what my mother’s breasts are like, because I have no idea. I’ve never seen any of my female relatives’, actually. I love how in my family/society women’s bodies have to be hidden even from those who share many of your genes, thus completely removing the chance to compare and establish commonality of appearance or experience with our bodies. How did this culture manage us to distance us so completely and so successfullly from our bodies, ourselves, and each other? It’s such a loss.

    chava, I think what you’re saying is really interesting. “Weight loss surgery” is such a nice, cosy way of saying “cutting out much of your digestive tract and leaving you at serious risk of lifelong malnutrition”. But I can equally see what volcanista’s saying. Definitely worth thinking about.

  102. I vote for sagginess being largely (ha) genetic as opposed to bra-related. I had a considerable rack in seventh grade, and after a year of no supportive bra (’cause my flat-chested mom “didn’t believe in them” then — you can only IMAGINE how I got razzed for that in gym), they did the old floperoo, and have been pointing southward ever since.

    Yeah, about the “female confessional journalism” thing: And you’ll notice that it’s inevitably the same kind of woman chosen to write these stories –WASPY-looking, slim (at least by the end of the story!), photogenic, able-bodied, 25-35 years old give or take. If a woman who fell outside of those boundaries were to write about how much she hated what was happening to her, it would just be way too depressing. (month-long eyeroll)

  103. Femininity in particular tends to be performed and we’re told and told and told that whatever it is (be it clothing, beauty routines, whatever) is supposed to be what comes naturally and the products and the work is only there to make up for our deficiencies.

    Yes. That.

  104. Catrina, I think that’s a good point. She has the feeling of what’s going on – she knows it feels “unnatural” and wrong to be altering her body in conformance with societal dictates, but she has the interpretation dead wrong. You can feel her feeling around for it, though. It feels wrong – what category of “wrongness” associated with femininity must it be? Tramp? Tranvestite? Porn star? Whereas pre-op it was “12 year old boy.”

  105. fuzzyoctopus, congratulations!! And Carolyn, yeah, I saw the poem. goodness. nipples nipples nipples all over that page.

    chava, I just don’t agree that precision and accuracy in language is secondary to a choice of descriptive but loaded language, even if I do agree that WLS is horrible. This was not meant to be such a derail — I was simply saying that your language sounded at least a little marginilizing and judgmental of women like maggiemunkee, Livia Augusta, Sskipstress, Halle, Ayelle, one or two of my friends, and even Christa D’Souza for having or seriously considering elective surgery that would reduce the size of their breasts. Women don’t need to be judged for making that choice, any more than you deserved to be judged by being told you you should have surgery to make your body more acceptable.

    Femininity in particular tends to be performed and we’re told and told and told that whatever it is (be it clothing, beauty routines, whatever) is supposed to be what comes naturally and the products and the work is only there to make up for our deficiencies.

    This is brilliantly put.

  106. So–

    Catrina, it isn’t OT, but I do think we want to be careful about calling out transwomen on “artifice.” Even the term “transvestite” is very loaded and thrown around a lot by ciswomen. Transwomen are always “playing” they are never “natural” is a very common refrain in transphobic circles.

    I know it is mostly ciswomen on this thread, but that’s no reason to be unaware.

  107. Thanks to SP, I have been referring to my 42DDs as the “Rack of Doom” now for months, with great glee. My younger sister gets very upset with me every time I do it. I keep telling her that I am saying it with PRIDE (And sticking ‘em out, while I’m at it!) but she keeps seeing it as some sort of self-put-down. Eventually, I will make her see the SA light.

    Have I told y’all lately how much I love you??

  108. yeah, chava, that’s a good point. Though I could get behind Catrina’s point if she was clear that she meant biological/physical difference vs. performance of gender.

  109. volcanista–

    We will have to agree to disagree. I do not see the language as either blaming the women OR being inaccurate. Medical “accuracy” is often a distancing mechanism rather than an “accurate” description. Loaded imagery can often be the only way to break through the distancing.

    Now again, as I said, I do think there are instances where the surgery is beneficial. But the way in which society casually pushes it upon us is never beneficial.

    I’m also not sure it is a derail, since the article is about breast enhancement surgery and reduction is the flip side of the coin. How we choose to talk about it is important, I agree.

  110. Femininity in particular tends to be performed

    I agree with most of your point – I think it goes beyond that because really both femininity and masculinity are performed. As a group we may be pretty accustomed to the ways that femininity is marketed – but there is also some pretty profound construct around masculinity too.

  111. first I want to say– this woman has body image issues. I’ve seen a friend go through it recently (then she discovered all the things about bigger boobs besides looking better in clothes; -but- i taught her to sew and now she’s starting to make clothing for herself and it’s helping her a lot to really get to know herself!)

    i also want to say, yeah, sagging is genetics more than anything else. however, me and my (i don’t know size, somewhere between 34J-L, super-dense, too) boobies will do serious athletics in my lovely, lovely enell, especially after I read about a woman who had to have an EMERGENCY BREAST REDUCTION because she was playing softball and running and her cooper’s ligament (the ligament that holds your tits up) tore from the chest wall. owie!

    plus, the enell sports bra gets the goodies out of my armpits so I can type better and also use shovels and chainsaws better.

  112. synj, I am going to be walking around clutching the girls in sympathy all night now thankyouverymuch!

    and yes, the enell is made of win.

  113. plus, the enell sports bra gets the goodies out of my armpits so I can type better and also use shovels and chainsaws better.

    I would like to say how much I love this as a basis for underwear-based decision making.

  114. From anecdata I’ve heard from the acquaintances who’ve gotten breast surgery, they’ve ALL been pressured by their doctor to go up more sizes than they originally wanted and then regretted it. I do think that there’s a lot of breast implant doctors out there who are pretty sexist. “Well you’re a bimbo who wants huge breasts, so go for the huge breasts rather than the C-cup you really want,” was the undertone I was hearing from their comments on how their doctors treated their wishes.

    It’s weird though. I’m a little past the boundaries of even plus size bra sizing (my 42Hs are too small in the cup for me and I’m currently procrastinating on finding out if they make the lighter Enells in custom sizes), and I don’t remember a time after I developed where I wasn’t being told “You can have breast reduction when you’ve stopped growing!” or “You should really get breast reduction now that you’ve stopped growing” or “Why haven’t you gotten breast reduction yet?” And…yeah I occasionally have back pain and I’m very careful to exercise in large part to keep my back from getting to weak to support my breasts. But I still have absolutely no desire to have a breast reduction done, and it was only a few months ago that I realized that if I really never started wanting one, I didn’t have to. I’d seriously never realized that before.

    I find the amount of pressure women who aren’t some obscure perfect size to get body-altering surgery to be incredibly depressing.

  115. I’ve worn a bra at all times (except showering and sometimes sex) since I was in my teens. Feel physically uncomfortable without one at this point. Can’t even sleep if I’ve forgotten to put it on.

    Still have saggy boobs. Would they be saggier if not for the obsessive bra-wearing? I have no idea.

    One thing I have to say about my grandma and my mom– they’ve been cracking saggy-boob jokes since I was a little girl, and it came as no surprise when they flopped sometime after Baby #2.

    But yeah, that article was pretty depressing. Probably it was meant to be depressing. Worse yet was the other one that Jezebel linked to– the anorexic lady. damn.

  116. Bra-shopping with friends is always hilarious. I was pawing through the department store with some girlfriends and one picked up a 38DD– “who WEARS a DD?? That’s just ridiculous!”

    followed by a rather sheepish, “Well, you don’t LOOK that big….”

    I think people have this idea about what a DD looks like, sort of like they have this idea about what “200 pounds” looks like, that bears little resemblance to reality.

  117. …who stares at their feet in the shower anyway?

    Well besides that – I’ve always had a breast size 1-2 sizes larger than my hips. I do think about having them reduced, not due to body hate but because as I”m getting older they are causing me problems – I have scoliosis and asthma and they make both of these conditions more difficult. But I”m afraid of surgery, and also afraid I will hate the way they come out afterward so I’m still being indecisive about it, as I have been for about ten years now.

    But – congenital? Really? She finds it necessary to describe a bra size much smaller than mine as a birth defect? After first being unhappy with the small ones, and now with the large ones, I can only conclude she has serious issues and wish she’d keep them to herself. Not to be crude or anything but I’ve certainly dated more than a few people who were quite happy about my “congenitally” huge breasts.

    And as far as clothing goes – no I don’t wear sacks all the time, not even as office wear. I don’t wear skin tight halters either, but saying a reasonably form fitting blouse is suddenly “improper” on me just because I have large breasts is moronic. Really, as she herself noticed in her parkas and heavy layers, if your breasts are large there isn’t much in the way of clothing you will wear that will distract men from this fact… and that is their problem. Just wear normal clothes, ffs. You aren’t improper for wearing a shirt that fits when you’re an E cup anymore than when you’re an A cup. Seriously.

  118. “congenital” means “present at birth but not necessarily hereditary; acquired during fetal development,” such as but not limited to birth defects. still not appropriate for breasts, though.

  119. I’m 5′ and wear a 34F/G and I also swear by Enell sports bras. The rest of that stuff she’s complaining about, I just kind of think – how is it you didn’t consider this before the surgery?

    I’ve just recently found a new way to wear button-up shirts (besides the tanktop underneath or the just don’t bother options) – those little vest things are all over the shops here at the moment, and if I get the right style, they’re pretty cute on me. Then I just button the shirt up to beneath my boobs (or however far it will go) and wear the vest over the top. First time I’ve ever really bothered to wear button-up shirts!

    I have to say that I have considered a reduction, because I have a lot of problems with my back/neck. however, my Dad also has problems with his neck, so I’m not sure that the surgery would fix my problems, and also, I’m scared of it :P

    That, and the fact that I actually think my boobs look great. I hate the attention they get from guys (sickening, honeslty) but I’m happy with them despite their inconveniences! And if that makes me a superannuated porn star, so be it!

  120. There is a connotation too, though, that I don’t think was accidental in the way she used it.

  121. Piping up to say there’s a specialty bra shop in the city I’m moving to in a week and a half and I am SOOO excited. Anyone who wants to make a special trip — and is a well-established Shapeling who can provide information verifying they are who they say they are — is welcome to stay with us on their bra pilgrimage. :) I’ll just say we’re near where the south meets the great plains and leave it at that. :0

    Also, does anyone else have boobs that are just a lot further apart than bra makers seem to think they should be? It’s not a band size or cup size issue (I’ve tried every combination of everything close to my size); it’s more of a… ribcage issue. I don’t know if part of what you’re supposed to be getting in a bra is having the girls smooshed together (though I’ve heard the phrase “lift and separate” in relation to bras which would suggest that together-smooshing is not the aim). But invariably when I try on bras, I can find ones with the right cup size, and the right circumference, but the wee wee little strip of fabric between the two cups is just too wee for me. Things pinch.

    Oh, and about the article… It just made me sigh heavily and be sad. Sometimes I choose to indulge the fiction that the Daily Fail really is entirely made up. It’s been a rough day so I think I’ll do that for this.

  122. Oh and I forgot to say – what is up with bras that poke into my armpits? Cos that is seriously uncomfortable. Is this a height-related issue because there’s less vertical distance on me or something?

  123. friendly daughter, you reminded me of one of the “moments” I had shopping recently: I was looking at a rack of bras. On the rack, the cups looked ENORMOUS. So I pawed through them.

    And realized that those enormous bras were two cup sizes smaller than what I wear. Looks are deceiving.

    It was not exactly the most body-positive moment I had last week.

  124. KC Jones, you could try Lansinoh as a remedy when they do get sore. (Apologies if you know all about Lansinoh because you’ve been or known a nursing mother.)

  125. *rambles on a bit more* The bra issue I guess I’m in between on except for one thing – I loathe underwires. I hate it being assumed I need them for “support” – why? And I have SNAPPED underwires before too. Emergency shuffles to the nearest ladies room to extract metal shafts from the underside of your breast is not something I recommend for anyone.
    Even if they wouldn’t snap on occasion I hate them. And bras too. They are very uncomfortable to me. I do have Asperger’s syndrome though, I feel I need to mention, and a lot of fabrics and clothing is more uncomfortable to me than it is to many people.
    On the other hand with a soft sports bra on I sometimes have an easier time moving around actively, especially if my upper back is acting up. But sometimes a bra seems to aggravate it. In short, it all depends on the day whether I wear one or not.

  126. A Sarah and randomquorum, no, neither of those things should happen with a well-fitted bra! Could be size, but also could be brand. I have learned from bra fittings that I “do not have deep cups,” whatever that means. So there are other dimensions that come into play, and different brands and styles fit differently.

  127. Congrats Fuzzyoctopus!!!

    And thank you for all the ideas, everybody-keep ‘em comin’!

    I like the idea of getting pasties and I’ve considered getting them before, mainly because I also think they could be very sexy. hehe I think the undershirt option sounds very comfy and interestingly enough, there is almost nothing that makes me feel sexier than wearing men’s underwear… I don’t know why, but I feel no need to question…though wearing tighty whities as Brad during a production of Rocky Horror felt a little weird…lol

  128. Oddly, no one would ever describe me as a porn star, despite my 36I (depending on how a given manufacturer labels the cups above DD) death rack.

    I guess I’d feel weird if they turned into D’s overnight. No matter how much I’ve dreamt about it. :)

  129. @volcanista… “Deep cups”…. very interesting. Hmmm. Well, in that case, it will be interesting to see what the specialty bra shop person says in our new town. I’ve thought about getting front-closing bras and then adding a bra extender, but extenders are made for the kind of closures that you find on back-closing bras, not front-closing bras.

    So right as I was writing that I had a flashback to taking practice tests for the old logic section of the GRE, so that probably indicates how it strikes me. (The logic section on which I did TERRIBLY, I might add. Fortunately during the year I needed to take the GRE they switched to analytic writing, rather than the five-people-in-a-boat-and-Tom-won’t-sit-with-Alice word problems.)

  130. Oh jeez. I just googled “boobs too far apart” and found this:

    http://www.askmen.com/money/how_to_200/246b_how_to.html

    Advice from d00ds to d00ds on how to tell if they’re fake. Ladies, are yours too far apart (defined as “if you can fit your fist between them”)? Do they have stretch marks? Nipples that point in different directions? Are you confident? Prudish? Then YOURS MIGHT BE FAKE.

  131. Has anyone checked out the normal breasts gallery? It is similar to the BMI project where women upload photos of their breasts and tell about them in their own words. We forget what real breasts look like! The sheer variety of sizes and shapes kind of amazed even me. I did see some anti-fat thoughts expressed in some of the statements though, so proceed with caution, but it was still helpful for me to see that most normal breasts don’t look like the ones in porn magazines where the nipples defy gravity.

    http://www.007b.com/breast_gallery.php

  132. I’m 36AA and reading this blog actually helped me a lot toward finding body acceptance. Actually being close to flat (AAA women have issues even I can’t relate to) I’ve felt a lot of shame for my body, and coming to the realization that I don’t exist for the visual pleasure of others has really helped me stop being so self-loathing.

    The range of acceptable racks thing is so very true. Unless you are the perfect airbrushed model shape, you are going to be made to feel unwomanly in some way. As a young person I said I could not wear feminine clothing lest I look like a man in drag. I’ve been made to feel that way by my peers in school, and even my own father. I’m not only almost flat I’m not totally thin so I’ve often felt my body would be much more attractive were I male. Luckily now I have the self esteem to not care if I look like a man in drag, and to realize that is not a bad thing.

    My first response to this was almost to scoff at a B cup claiming to feel that way–but the truth is, anyone can feel that way if they internalize the incredible pressure women have to hate whatever defect they might perceive in their bodies and to feel apologetic about it. The author of this article has obviously not learned to accept herself, but hopefully one day she will.

  133. …Wow.

    Post-implant DeSouza was only a little bigger than me (I’m 36D or 34DD depending on weight, time of the month etc) and I don’t even feel like my boobs are particularly big, never mind GARGANTUAN. I guess I can see how someone might feel that way if they were used to having smaller breasts and then suddenly acquired bigger ones as an adult, but still, you’re right, the tone shows a wierd sense of disconnection from and discomfort with her own body that I don’t think has all that much to do with breast size.

    The saddest part of the whole thing to me is the idea that body types go in and out of fashion. I mean your body type is what it is, there’s not that much you can do to change it, so what, if it’s not fashionable at any given time you should just…still not be able to change it, but apologise for not being hip at the moment?

  134. Not offended, chava, just horrified to hear that you have been pressured, and known other girls and women who were pressured, to have breast reduction surgery, to the extent that it feels common/widespread to you. I do believe you; I’ve just never encountered that myself (nobody pressured me to reduce — I didn’t even deal with a lot of awful teasing or shaming from people about my breast size, perhaps because I had worked so hard on invisibility — for me it was all about pain). I think the reason that I, personally, have not yet encountered anyone who regretted their breast reduction surgery, is because everyone I’ve ever known who had it, wanted it badly enough to ignore appalled reactions from people who went “you want your breasts to be SMALLER? what planet are you from?” Just different kinds of societal expectations, I guess (as well as the whole “you can’t win” paradox). I and the people I’ve known were defying others’ expectations by wanting smaller breasts, not caving to them. The idea of anyone being shamed or pressured to have drastic body-altering surgery, instead of for reasons of personal comfort and health, is awful to me. . . . Just in terms of what the actual procedure is like, “cutting off breasts” doesn’t seem accurate as description of reduction surgery. A masectomy is the surgery that’s essentially cutting off a breast, right? Reductions are different for different people, depending on how drastic a size change you’re talking about — but for me at least it wasn’t that invasive, I didn’t end up losing any glands or important/functional parts of the breast, just some soft tissue, with reshaping (and scarring). Nor did it even make me particularly small — I went down four cup sizes, but I’m still a D! So the idea of “cutting off breasts” has no relation to my personal experience. But if you mean that’s what the pressure makes it *feel* like that’s what society expects you to do, I think I get it.

  135. Actual conversation:

    Me: Damn, it’s hard to find bras in my size.

    Ex-friend; You should get a reduction.

    We’re not ex-friends because of that, but her general atittude was that bodies are merely living spaces that should be modified at will. I am frightened by the extent to which plastic surgery has become acceptable. This is risky stuff! There’s a reason they make you sign all kinds of releases prior to surgery.

  136. I don’t think genetics is relevant to the point fuzzyoctopus is making at all. she’s talking about engorgement with milk. After your milk comes in, your body has yet to regulate it’s supply and you go through a (horribly uncomfortable) period where your breasts are larger than they seem like they ought to be for your frame and so rock hard they point straight out. The perkiness isn’t permanent and it isn’t genetic. It’s about the breast being full. Overly full, really. They don’t stay like that for long. It isn’t how anybody’s breasts look forever. It is, on the other hand, how breasts look when they’re engorged with milk shortly postpartum.

    I’ve wondered the same thing because they really do look like overly large implants for that brief period of time. I’ve seen the same look on statues of hindu goddesses, actually, as long as we’re on the topic. It all makes me wonder about a link to fertility. I never noticed it until I had kids and went through that period of engorgement. I found myself standing in front of a statue of Lakshmi in a museum saying, dude….she looks like her milk just came in.

    Anyway. Congrats fuzzyoctopus!

  137. 30 G/H here (depending on the brand and style of bra, all of which have to be ordered from the UK since I can’t find stores here in the US that carry them). Have been since I was 20, at least. I’m also 5 feet tall. I’m a size 4/6 on the bottom. Somehow I manage to remain upright and bipedal and can get through the day without feeling the need to do a dance on the nearest pole. I rarely have back pain (only if I’m stuck doing something in lab hat has me hunched over for a long time) and in fact have been complimented on my posture. I also doubt anyone would mistake me for a porn star. The whole “nerdy scientist” thing seems to preclude that.

    Would it be nice to walk into Victoria’s Secret (or any store on this continent, really) and find a bra that fits me? Sure. Is it worth lopping off my breasts that I’ve gotten used to and that my husband loves? Not a bit.

  138. Perspective is such a funny thing – D cups look small to me!

    Also, I actually do feel overexposed when I wear certain styles that look perfectly demure on my smaller busted friends. It’s certainly a judgment, but I don’t like walking around feeling as though people are looking at me like I’m a stripper…

  139. Thanks for sharing your experience–I am sure there are more women like you who have had the Rack of Doom be, well…a Rack of Doom, sans irony.

    So, what I was trying to get across is that while for the individual woman it may be the absolute correct decision and a legitimate medical procedure, my perception of the way society pushes it is a dressed up suggestion to “cut off” pieces of ourselves, in the same way having ones ears or toes cropped might be seen.

    Of course, I have not done nor heard of any sort of study on how prevalent this pressuring is, and your anecdata contradicts my anecdata ;-) I am fairly young, so it may be a generational issue as well. I also have a bit of a surgery phobia, which probably inflects my response to the issue as well.

  140. I also wanted to add that I haaaate the casual comments I get about having a reduction. I really have no problem with my breasts and I hate that other people assume I must. My sister has insisted for years that maybe I was okay before kids but I would probably want to have the reduction after I had my kids because OMG WHAT IF THEY DON’T GO DOWN? That really would be the end of the world.

  141. To clarify: if I were to describe breast reduction surgery, not with the medical/distancing term “reduction mammaplasty”, but more accurately/literally and in a way that gives an idea of the violence in it, I’d say “slicing into the underside breast and cutting out skin and tissue in the shape of an anchor, relocating the nipple, and closing it all up with 30+ stitches” rather than “cutting off the breast.” Does that make sense? I don’t feel belittled by an “accurate” description; that’s what breast reduction surgery is, and I see chava’s point about medical terminology being potentially distancing. But a reduction isn’t much like cutting your breasts off (though I can see how it might feel that way if you’re being pressured).

  142. What a sad story. She clearly sees her body as an object, and one that she abhors. That’s just so sad.

    I agree with the comments about hunching. I teach participants how to ride in my nonprofit’s horse program, and I am constantly telling women to roll their shoulders back and sit straight. Women in this culture subconsciously hunch, both to try to minimize their breasts and also because of the way women are treated by modern Western culture. If we stand up for ourselves, we are generally slapped down or called names or some such nonsense. It can be a challenge, but we need to roll our shoulders back every day and be proud of who we are and the bodies we have.

  143. chava, the same thing just happened to me, more comments appeared while I was writing my clarification, incl. yours! Thanks for the reply — yeah, I was wondering if it might be an age thing. My experience was ten years ago: maybe as more people hear about experiences *like* mine, and simultaneously waifish looks are trendy on the runway, what was going against the grain for me suddenly turns into “everybody should do this,” as if it were easy and natural and the obviously right thing for everyone in the world. Sometimes I do wonder if I could have handled the pain with better bras or weight lifting — you’re right that nobody suggested those things to me. I don’t regret my experience at all; I love my breasts, scars and all, and the shape the surgery made them. But it’s possible I could have had a different, also-good experience without surgery. I dunno. I just know that while I’ll share my experience, I would never tell anyone else what to do based on it.

  144. Oh, the joy of having large breasts in a family of small breasted women. (Actually, I found out a few years ago that my great-grandmother had breasts [and a body, actually] just like mine. She was just about 6 inches shorter than me.)

    My 34 C mother didn’t realize that bras went above a D cup. She was completely shocked to find out that I wear a 36/38 DDD. (Of course, she was also surprised to find out that I weighed around 200 pounds. She honestly thought I weighed about 170.)

    I have also had relatives come up to me and ask me where I got them from. Not that they think they’re fake, it’s just that no one else in the family has large breasts. (Other than me, my (again, 34 C) mother is probably the largest.)

  145. Wow… this came at a perfect time. My good friend, probably the most beautiful girl I know, just got implants, and it’s a little bit sent me into a tizzy. I’m totally supportive of her, but inside it feels a little bit like she’s treating the symptom rather than the disease. I used to joke about her size frequently (she’ s stick thin and had the chest to match) since I wasn’t aware how much it bothered her, so I feel a bit guilty in there, too.

    No point here, just rambling.

  146. Jessica Rabbit was/is a TOON. Not a human person.

    So … wanting to look like her may not be the most achievable goal….

    Lily (who got called Jessica Rabbit a lot after that movie came out, but who also doesn’t look like a TOON!)

  147. @ Meems – I don’t hunch my shoulders either, and didn’t even when I was much thinner as a teenager and had if anything bigger boobs than I do now. Surely that’s a very individual thing based on overall frame in relation to breast size, relative size of shoulders (eg. I’m a former competative swimmer – my back and shoulders are quite capable of supporting a lot of weight on my chest), personal feelings about one’s body (some people will hunch in an attempt to hide their breasts, others won’t), etc?

    All throughout the article I get this sense that she’d previously seen busty women as sort of alien creatures unlike herself, and then she became one, and didn’t quite know how to feel about that other than uncomfortable.

    (Note – I know that a lot of women with very large breasts actually do experience physical pain as a result, and I’m not trying to minimise that. I just find that assumption that E cup on a small to medium frame automatically equals shoulder pain wierd because I have female friends and relatives with that build and none of them have any pain issues.)

    Also, big boobs on a small frame makes a woman look butch? Huh?

  148. A Sarah, on July 2nd, 2009 at 1:12 am Said:
    Advice from d00ds to d00ds on how to tell if they’re fake. Ladies, are yours too far apart (defined as “if you can fit your fist between them”)? Do they have stretch marks? Nipples that point in different directions? Are you confident? Prudish? Then YOURS MIGHT BE FAKE.

    In other words, basically if a woman has breasts, they might be fake? Don’t you love guys who demand women conform to a certain build and then complain when women try to achieve said body shape because it “isn’t natural”?

    I have that gap between my breasts as well. It’s about the width of my sternum. Can’t be that unusual because I’ve seen it argued that a well-fitting bra will rest on the chest in between there (not that I’ve had many that did), but I’ve known women my bra size who would be most uncomfortable with a bra trying to touch their chest there because their breast bases touch, if you will. Their breast roots? In mountains it’s roots… :D

    I’ve always been fond of my breasts, for various reasons, but my mom’s side of the family was more average sized and I was probably twenty before I got a bra that truly fit. Mom hadn’t a clue how to fit larger breasts and I was pretty oblivious, although I’m one who finds going completely braless really uncomfortable.

    Eldest daughter is built much like me but prefers going braless, however she does not like doing anything active and I often wonder whether the two are connected. I should suggest the men’s t-shirt idea to her and see how that works – right now she’s wearing bras a family friend gave her (along with boatloads of other clothes).

    The bras don’t really fit but they’re kinda functional in the sense of keeping things nailed down and nipple free. She’s reluctant to go shopping for clothes she doesn’t want and I hate spending that much money on something she will wear so rarely but I really should haul her out for some sports bras. I’m still sulking because the maternity bra I’ve been loving and wearing for years seems to have gone out of production, as the last batch I bought is slowly disintegrating as I wear them, so I’m a horrible example to boot. *sigh*

    Although I’m happy with my breasts I’m not thrilled by the male attention they attract, and I confess I sometimes envy those who can buy a bra and panty set that matches. And perky breasts, some days. I never had perky breasts, unless I was, like, nine. I was “failing the pencil test” (anyone else remember the pencil test?) by the time I was ten or eleven.

  149. CassandraSays – You’re absolutely right, though I happen to know a fair number of women with F cup plus breasts who aren’t uncomfortable or in pain or embarrassed by them. It definitely varies person to person, and I just think there’s a misconception that all large breasted women have back or shoulder pain.

    I’ve also come to realize that what some people call cleavage is different. When I mentioned to my roommate that i wasn’t comfortable showing cleavage, she looked at me like i was crazy and asked what I thought I had everyday in my regular clothing. i don’t consider a little glimpse of boob to be real cleavage, because it’s normal for me in shirts that don’t come up to my neck (which don’t flatter me anyway). I just don’t like feeling my boobs jiggle too much when I move.

  150. I do have fairly bad upper back issues, but I am (reasonably) sure these are due to carrying a bad, heavy schoolbag off my shoulders for years, combined with typing a lot. I was blessed with a mother who believed women should always spend money on good shoes and good bras (good as in supportive and fitted correctly), so perhaps that support from a young age helped me avoid chronic issues—because let me tell you, I have a tiny ribcage and very small, sloping shoulders.

    However, I have had success with chest presses (for the pecs under the breasts) and various back and neck exercizes (mostly in yoga) to provide muscle to stabilize Ye Olde Racke. I wonder if women are steered away from this option because it might make them add “bulk” or look “butch” –if ONLY gaining were that easy, sigh.

  151. Congratulations on the baby octopus!

    I’ve wondered the same thing when my milk came in, these look just like implants gone bad! Plus, ow, ow,ow. Boy was I grateful that it only lasted a few days until my breasts realized that I only had one baby and not four to feed. I swear I was ready to feed a litter’s worth. ;)

    But it also let me get to a small extent what this woman went through, it’s very odd to suddenly have breasts grow three sizes (which is about what mine did). There are a lot of different movements you have to make, and they get in the way when they didn’t before.

    All that said, I was a 34B before babies and always felt they were a really nice size. The concept of thinking of them as fried eggs baffles me. Now I’m bigger, being older fatter and having nursed three kids. I’m still okay with them, though menopause seems to be playing heck with pain, I need a much more supportive bra than I did even a few years ago.

  152. I like mine.
    I’ve thought about reduction surgery, briefly, but managed to live with them quite well (around a 44E these days, I think).
    There’s just so much to be said for acceptance — overall body acceptance — not specific to weight — and a rejection of the ever-changing “ideal.”

  153. I am a little baffled by the “male attention” the other large busted ladies on this thread all seem to have noted. I guess it’s possible I am simply totally freaking oblivious, but I really don’t notice men staring at my chest–I mean, once in a blue moon, sure. But not so I notice.

    Hm. And just had a moment of “ohmygod am I ugly because the men don’t harass me???”

    Gotta love patriarchy.

  154. I have loved reading these responses. I’m fairly new to the body-acceptance thing, having just finally decided to believe that maybe what I was thinking and doing was more important than the size of my boobs or my butt, so this is eye-opening for me.

    I have to say, I read the whole D’Souza article and did anyone notice that all the way through she was comparing herself with Posh Spice? Who is, essentially, a fembot with one facial expression? Is that what she wanted to be?

    I don’t want to be that. For possibly the first time ever. Which is a really good thing because I think I could probably step over Posh Spice on the street, even if she was wearing her invisible-heeled Christian Lacroix boots.

    You women are an inspriation to me.

  155. @randomquorum: I have the same wire-poking issue at 5’0″, so height-related seems possible. I’ve actually had a local place customize a bra by opening up the wire casing, clipping the wire shorter, and sewing the casing back up, which was a nice solution to that particular problem.

    On a separate note, as a woman with a rack of doom, I have had some pressure to get a reduction, but not very much… more like a few suggestions from very close friends/relatives, and then a few repetitions of said suggestions. I have had some back pain, so I investigated the possibilities/side effects, saw a plastic surgeon (who advised me to get WLS, which is a whole different can of worms), and decided, after much information and deliberation, that a reduction isn’t for me at this time. Which my friends and family respected.

    As far as the butch thing goes, it almost makes sense to me. Because I know SOME butch women for whom part of eschewing traditional femininity is not worrying about weight and weight loss, and therefore SOME have gained some weight in the boob area. And then if boobs are bound, or in a traditional sports bra, they sometimes look like the uniboob of badly-fitting regular bras. So, if one were to suddenly have trouble finding bras, and have to deal with uniboob, and not be thin, I can ALMOST see how one might feel like one looks like some butch women.

    Notice how many qualifiers I put in that paragraph? Because without a lot of qualifiers and a lengthy explanation, this still makes no sense.

    @chava: Hm. And just had a moment of “ohmygod am I ugly because the men don’t harass me???” I wonder this about myself all the time. I am so rarely harassed, and when I am, it’s usually because I have the audacity to be fat at people in public. And I constantly interpret a lack of harassment and boob-staring as “Men think I’m ugly.” What a crazy crazy interpretation.

  156. @Julie – “Its like the way fashion designers habitually sell bathing suits that are cut to cover much less pubic hair than most women naturally have, so you feel like you’ve got to shave or wax for them. The tail wagging the dog, if you ask me.”

    WORD. That *constantly* annoys me about swimwear. I don’t shave anything, don’t feel the need to, and don’t think pubic hair on women is or should be shocking. So why the hell aren’t suits built with the expectation that we have it?? Most men’s suits are. For fuck’s sake.

    @Carolyn – “Standing up strait, shoulders back and chest out (and by out I mean in a normal posture) also can come across as “bitchy”. You are taking up space, asserting your right to be and with a big boosom, sometimes that is more noticeable. So again I’ve seen women do the “hunch” thing without even thinking about it. It’s a body language way of being passive and I think its culturally taught.”

    I do this too, and I’m only a B cup. I have done it ever since I had boobs, and the few women I know with good posture are loudly ‘admired’ (sometimes genuinely, sometimes creepily) for doing so. Yeeg. Can. not. win.

    @chava – whoa, there. Trans women are also women. The all-caps ‘fake’ designation sounds brutally aggressive to me, I am not sure what you’re trying to get at there.

  157. @ Hallie–

    Huh? I was pointing out that the previous commenter had touched a sore spot for transwomen with her comment that “transvestites” are interesting because they use “artifice.”

  158. Here is what I said re: tranwomen:

    1) So–

    Catrina, it isn’t OT, but I do think we want to be careful about calling out transwomen on “artifice.” Even the term “transvestite” is very loaded and thrown around a lot by ciswomen. Transwomen are always “playing” they are never “natural” is a very common refrain in transphobic circles.

    I know it is mostly ciswomen on this thread, but that’s no reason to be unaware.

    2) I skimmed the comment thread, but has anyone gotten into her transphobia here?

    “The truth was I felt like a transvestite. Instead of giving me the desired Jessica Rabbit silhouette, the implants had made me feel butch (if you don’t have the hourglass waist to begin with, that’s what happens).”

    Aside from the whole homophobia issue–perhaps she just didn’t want to look butch, although I doubt it–this screams transphobia to me. We wouldn’t want to look like a transvestite because they are FAKE women.

    ——–

    I think you are referring to 2. Here I am saying that the attitude of transphobic people is to say, “we wouldn’t want to look like a fake woman.” The caps were to emphasize how the “fakeness” they imagine is so frightening to them…

  159. “it’s usually because I have the audacity to be fat at people in public.”

    That made me laugh out loud, thank you. I often feel that way about being tall.

  160. Your perception is your reality. She wasn’t emotionally prepared to go from small breasted to large breasted and therefore ascribed an experience with her new breasts based on stereotypes and pre-existing body hate. I don’t think she’ll ever be happy with what she has until she works through her issues first.

    I’m a 36G, fat, and an hourglass. My big breasts are proportionate to the rest of me. I’ve never felt like my boobs were unwieldy, porn-sized, or embarrassing. I *never* hunch my shoulders. When I wear properly fitting bras, I experience no pain.

    I come from a large family of women (and my father), who all are differently shaped and differently endowed. We all have our different struggles with trying to find clothing.

    My mother is pear-shaped, rail thin, and barely fills an A cup. She often says that she wishes she had breasts like her daughters, but thankfully has never gotten implants. I think her breasts are in proportion to her body and she would look odd with a big rack.

    I have four younger sisters Three of my sisters are apples & rectangles with average to full breasts. Then, there’s my fourth sister who is essentially a lollipop; she’s skinny (about a size 4) with a rack of doom. She is frequently accused of having implants and has as much trouble shopping for tops that fit her properly as I do, despite her being at least 80 pounds lighter.

  161. I am a little baffled by the “male attention” the other large busted ladies on this thread all seem to have noted. I guess it’s possible I am simply totally freaking oblivious, but I really don’t notice men staring at my chest–I mean, once in a blue moon, sure. But not so I notice.

    Hm. And just had a moment of “ohmygod am I ugly because the men don’t harass me???”

    Yeah, this describes my experience fairly exactly, right down to the depressing occasional thought patterns about it.

  162. Can we also please decouple “transvestite” (which, in our University’s SafeZone program, we teach as meaning one who dresses in the clothing of another gender, generally for sexual pleasure, most often straight men) from “transgender” (one who has been designated the incorrect gender at birth, and feels like zie is a gender that does not match the gender assigned at birth)? These are radically different designations, and the conflation of the two makes me uncomfortable. Most transpeople I know wouldn’t call themselves transvestites under any circumstances.

  163. Yeah–that’s why I put “transvestite” in scare quotes. However, I was trying not to discount the possibility that the Caitlin or even the original writer was speaking specifically about transvestites.

    Usually, however, when people speak about “transvestites,” they actually mean transgendered–so I chose to address it as such. Sorry for not making that more clear.

  164. LOL That reminded me of an interview I once saw with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. “My son told one of his friends’My daddy was a transsexual!’ And I said ‘No, honey, daddy was a transvestite. If daddy had been a transsexual, you wouldn’t be here.”

  165. Just to mention, though, transvestites are sometimes NOT fetish transvestites–and should not be subjected to accusations of badly performed femininity either. (even if they were fetish transvestites, that still doesn’t entitle them to it, but it’s less of a permeating life issue than non-fetish transvestitism can be).

    Personally i tend to think of transvestitism as a subset of “trans” with transgendered as its own, different entity with is often conflated with fetish transvestitism.

    So sorry for the triple comment! I can’t sleep and am far too chatty.

  166. chava: no worries. I had the impression you knew the difference. And definitely not trying to denigrate transvestites, fetish or no. Just trying to be really clear about language :)

  167. I just wanted to mention the place that I get my bras made. Custom fit, and while expensive, it’s money I spend on bras that fit and work for me, rather than spending the same amount on something that doesn’t. And I really should order now so I get in line for a couple of new ones before a whole whack of people go over and order, but I think for those who are interested, it would be helpful.

    http://www.decentexposures.com/

    If you’re in the Seattle area, they can do a fitting in person as well.

  168. 42DDD here. I’d love to go braless, and do at home. It’s not the gravity that gets me; it’s the sweat.

    I remember being at a Hanes Outlet, looking for a bra, and the 16-year-old clerk asks me if she can help. I tell her, and she says, “Oh, we don’t have anything THAT big here.” Tact was apparently not a part of the employee training program.

    As for the Barbie build, that’s so true. Whenever I’ve lost weight, I see it in my boobs first. That’s just how it is.

  169. a few quick comments
    1) I am continually confounded by the extent to which society and manufacturers simply deny the huge range of sizes breasts come in. It’s so funny to me when people talk about DD as being huge, since to me that’s quite medium sized, and really I think people have the same problem with bra sizes as with weights, people have no idea what different sizes actually look like. (which is only made worse by the number of women who have no idea sizes beyond DDD exist and are therefore wearing the wrong size, and by the fact that cup sizes are relative to band size, which is just a dumb way to make sizes.)

    (a recent post on the complicatedness of bra sizing:http://theprettyyear.com/2009/06/24/size-chart-woes-the-naked-truth-about-bra-sizes/)

    2) Note: A transvestite is not the same thing as a transgender or transsexual person.
    I understood Catrina to be using the term transvestite to mean a person who dresses up as another gender for personal enjoyment or performance (some of whom who perform a female gender may be referred to as “drag queens” or “female impersonators”), which is the meaning I understand to be accurate for transvestite, and I do not think it is transphobic to refer to such people as performing a gender, since that is, in essence, what they are doing. This is not at all the same as saying something that implies “transwomen are never real women”, which is transphobic BS.

    3) A Sarah — one of the many things bra manufacturers do not like to admit is that there are many dimensions in which breasts vary, not just band size and cup size. Two people could wear the same size but different styles work for them because one needs a wide cup and one needs a deep cup, for example. One of these other dimensions is the space between the breasts. I happen to have the opposite problem, there is little to no space between my breasts naturally, though this is more easily solved by simply taking in the center gore (technical term for the part between the cups). Definitely try different brands and styles and look for one where the gore is wider.

    4) a link some who are curious about the mechanics of bras may enjoy:
    http://www.bramakerssupply.com and they have a blog (/blog on that url)

  170. oh, I should clarify: my comment about the transvestite thing is in reference to Catrina’s comment, not to the comment in the original article, which I do think was, at minimum, in poor taste.

  171. @Lilah Morgan –

    It could be that men are staring at your breasts all the time, and you just don’t notice. I mean, I’m kind of oblivious that way – one of my friends had to point out that an acquaintance, Frank, NEVER made eye contact if there was a nice pillowy pair of boobs to stare at, instead.

    I did catch one male friend staring straight at my chest one day, so I asked him if he could tell which one was bigger. (Very, very easy question – my boobs aren’t even in ‘fraternal twin’ category – more like 2nd cousins) He has never stared at my boobs since then.

  172. I haven’t made my way through all the comments yet, but it seems to me that D’Souza’s problems with her breasts have not been located on her chest so much as in her head. (Cancer notwithstanding, of course.)

    I’m not anti-plastic surgery. I’ve had a breast reduction, so it might be a tad hypocritical of me to criticize breast enhancement, but I think some people have cosmetic surgery thinking it will make them a happier, more popular, better person. Nope. When you wake up from the anasthesia, you’re still you, just with a different bra size. And in my experience, a wicked need to pee immediately.

  173. 4) a link some who are curious about the mechanics of bras may enjoy:
    http://www.bramakerssupply.com and they have a blog (/blog on that url)

    Bookmarked that. Man, I would love to learn to sew custom bras. My post-surgical nipples sit a little high, so they peek out of low cut styles, but all the full coverage ones I can find are butt-ugly.

  174. I’ve not had many people staring directly at my breasts – it’s more an issue of people gazing down my cleavage from a greater height. Which sort of makes sense from a trigonometric point of view, but is irritating for the general lack of manners it displays. (If you realise that looking straight down will not hit my face but my chest, surely it’s not that difficult to adjust your neck and look elsewhere, absent any physical reasons for being unable to do so.)

    What I find particularly interesting are the references above to the connection between idealised “picture-perfect, rock-hard” breasts and the reality that this is often the case due to breastfeeding. I look substantially younger than I am and am somewhat domestic of manner (how’s that for vagueness?), and am often viewed, even in professional contexts, as a sweet, maternal figure waiting to happen, instead of someone intellectual or sexy. (Of course it’s possible to be all that at once, but the neanderthals I encounter haven’t quite reconised that yet…) I wonder if it’s the boobs – they end up characterising me so I can fit into a handy shoebox for the clueless. Except that I can’t have children (a fact I’m always slightly tempted to reveal), so the rationalising is not only wrong but also extremely annoying.

    @Kimberley O – I love the “2nd cousins” remark! I also have very asymmetrical breasts, but it’s distributed in such a way that you can’t tell unless I’m naked. At which point, as I mentioned above, complaints aren’t likely to lead to continued opportunities for observation.

  175. And just as a FYI for the narrow-band, large cup-sized crowd (which has very little to do with weight, in my experience – my rib cage is consistently the smallest bit of me and I never seem to gain or lose weight there), here’s a couple of other brands I’ve found very handy but haven’t seen mentioned. These are definitely not cheap, which is a separate issue (I realise I’m very lucky to be able to spend that sort of money on bras without feeling the pinch), but they work well and look fabulous.

    So: Empreinte (who do lovely lace up to 40F), Prima Donna, Conturelle and Elixir, usually from here – http://www.rigbyandpeller.com. Last time I was there I had a very helpful – and plus sized – fitter.

    I know other people swear by the brands available at Bravissimo, and there’s one where I live, but nearly all their stock has straps set too wide for my very narrow shoulders. I’ve had some luck with Fantasie and Panache.

    (I’ll admit to finding the recent M&S pricing flap wryly amusing, since they do make bras in my size but I’ve never found anything there that both fits and supports. Oh, and of course those to whom I made idle comments about the affair were quick to reassure me “but they’re not referring to people like *you*”! Sigh.)

  176. I want to point out that one of the reasons that there’s so much disconnect about “you don’t look like you’re a D/DD/FFFF” or whatever is that cup size is NOT fixed from band size to band size. If you took the cup off a 30D bra and compared it to a 48D bra, they wouldn’t be anything like the same size – the cup is relative to the band. (As a rule of thumb, you go up a cup size if you’re going down a band size, and vice versa. So on a 30 band that 48’s D would be something larger than an H cup. I can’t remember the order of lettering above DD because it varies from country to country. :) )

    So we have the idea that high letters = bowling balls but really, a 32DD is the same amount of actual breast (approximately) as a 38B. Yet no one is going to say ‘you wear a 38B? OH MY GOD YOUR BOOBS ARE HUGE!’ (Well. Most people wouldn’t. I’m sure there’s someone out there who would. :) )

    On top of which, lots of women don’t even wear the right sized bra, so their idea of comparative sizes is skewed by that, also. I used to think I was a 36DD, and recently I’ve discovered I’m more like a 32F/FF. (This also adds, imo, to the idea that large breasts = pain. I’m sure it’s true for some women no matter what, but honestly it hurts me LESS to just not wear a bra at all than it does to wear a poorly fitting one that doesn’t give proper support, because it actually puts a lot more of the weight on my shoulders. By contrast, a properly fitting bra the support is distributed over the large area of the band itself, and everything feels just fine.)

    Anyway. A few answers for folks, since I hang out in forums for the oddly-bra-sized:

    If you’re just hitting right at the end of the size range on the band (you need a 50 and can get a 48, for example) most craft shops now stock bra extenders that are quite sensibly made. I actually use one regularly with new bras because I buy them a little tiny bit too tight so I get more wear out of them as they stretch. The only thing to watch for is that this does shift around the position of the straps a bit (makes them wider apart in back than they’re designed to be) so it doesn’t work well if the straps are already kind of widely set for you. It’s obviously not ideal, but they’re a lot cheaper than a custom bra. :)

    If you’re wondering where to go for a fitting – many many good independent bra stores advertise more towards mastectomy patients than the general public, however they will be quite happy to help you find a bra that fits appropriately and are likely to have a good knowledge of a wide range of products. Plus, since they work with mastectomy patients often they’re a little more sensitive about body issues, since in general that’s a problem for a lot of women who’ve had significant tissue removed. So that’s something to look for if you’re scanning the phone book. (Even if they don’t have your particular size on hand, many of them will order something in if necessary, also.)

    Nipple coverage braless – there’s silicone pasties you can buy, but I know people who’ve managed quite nicely with appropriately sized bandaids. (I’d probably need those big knee ones, but hey. :) )

    Finally – completely throw out that ‘measure your rib cage and add X inches’ thing for figuring out your band size, and just go to a store with a decent selection (or an online store with good returns) and pick out ONE bra (just one for now) and gather up a range of band sizes around where you think you might be. Then try them all on. (If the cup is too small, turn the bra upside down so you can get the band up on your ribcage where it should be, and just ignore the cups for now.) When you find one that’s comfortably tight on the biggest hooks (should feel kind of like a gentle hug) that’s your band size in that bra. Proceed to try on multiples of that bra in different cup sizes until you find one where the cups aren’t too big or too small. (It’s actually easier to just try to find ‘too big’ first, because that’s normally pretty obvious by wrinkling in the cups or just excess space in the cups. Then you try the next size down and hopefully that works and isn’t too small.) Congratulations, you have found your size IN THAT ONE BRA. Your size in any other bra style or brand is probably something similar to that, but not necessarily exactly the same. (Different styles fit larger/smaller, as do different makers.)

    One very handy tip for bra hunting also, btw – take a plain dark colored shirt that fits snugly with you. (Doesn’t have to be something that you’d be seen out in public in, just something that won’t drape and isn’t so tight it squishes.) When you think you’ve found a bra, put the shirt on and look at the shape it’s giving you – particularly check for if your breast is bulging out of the cup a little at the top, which is a sign the cup is too small or sometimes that the straps are too tight. Basically, the shirt hides the lines of the bra (for the most part) and the color contrasts, which makes it much easier for your eye to actually see the overall outline/shape. I’ve tried on bras that technically fit, but made me look REALLY WEIRD under clothes. Unless you’re buying the bra just to look cute in without anything on top of it, how it looks under clothing is important. :)

    Erm. I will stop with my essay now. :)

  177. Oh, one last thing, for the asymmetrical folks – first, it’s totally normal to have some size difference between boobs. (By which I mean normal in a medical sense.) Pretty much every woman does, to some degree or another.

    Second, when you go bra shopping – fit the larger breast. ALWAYS. Squeezing the larger breast into a cup too small for it is just going to be uncomfortable and not support properly. In some styles of bra, just taking up the shoulder strap a little on the smaller side will be enough to make the cup fit well enough. (If you’re dealing with a relatively small difference in size.)

    For larger size differences, if it bothers you and you want to look symmetrical, the best solution really is to just get one of those chicken fillet looking things and pad out the smaller cup a little. (A store that deals with mastectomy patients can normally really help with this kind of thing, for obvious reasons.) If you’re not worried about being symmetrical, and just want a bra that fits both boobs – assuming the bra is not a molded cup style, but has actual fabric cups, often putting a dart in the cup or otherwise adjusting the fit is quite possible. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, see what the prices are for local tailors/seamstresses. Unless they need to deconstruct the whole cup for some reason, it should still be less expensive than paying for a custom bra from scratch.

  178. I’m a 34F (naturally!) and I have never hunched my shoulders or experienced back pain. I might be lucky… then again I might have good posture and be wearing the right bra size!

    I also am not slim-waisted – but I don’t look like a man (not that men look bad… you know).

    Grrr.

  179. “And I do see my feet in the shower. I lean forward. Not sure why this is impossible for D’Souza.”

    I am a 38C (a full C but not quite a D) and I have a big tummy but seeing my feet in (or out) of the shower simply involves the above very sensible advice. *sheesh*

    D’Souza’s self-loathing makes me really sad for her. She should hang out with the Shapelings. She’d gain a much healthier sense of self-worth.

  180. Wow! I haven’t finished reading all the comments but I couldn’t wait any longer. I’m sick of being made to feel like there is something horrendous about my boobs! I wear whatever fits given a particular bra – right now I have lots of 34FFs in one sort and 38Fs in another, and one 34G. And you know what? I don’t think my boobs are shockingly huge either. I mean, I’m about a size 12-14, and I have a big butt, and the boobs just seem to come with the territory. And no, they do NOT defy gravity. And I actually think it’s NORMAL to buy different sizes on the bottom and on the top because heLLO, boob sizes are different and bikini tops are the same thing as a bra! So why don’t they come in bra SIZES?!!

    And by the way, while I’m sitting around being made to feel bad about my body, my food friend who is very slim and has a very small chest thinks she is too skinny and that her boobs are WAY too small. It’s ridiculous!

    But I do not slouch, I stand tall and proud with my boobs out. And I refuse to believe that I simply can’t be elegant this way, or that clothing that accentuates my hourglass shape means I’m slutty. It does NOT. It just means I like my body and/or I watch a lot of Mad Men.

    Argh.

  181. oops make that “good friend” not “food friend”. though we do enjoy some awesome meals together. (she has been known to take pictures of the food before we eat it, especially if it’s home made.)

    Anyway thanks for the post!

  182. Oh and p.s. i am surprised people can’t see their feet in the shower, i can see mine from in between my boobs. Perhaps my boobs are more sideways-y than others’? :D With clothes on though, I can’t see the feet. But as Camryn Manheim said, “seen ‘em, no big whoop.”

  183. I went from a B-C cup to an A cup after breastfeeding three children. When I (rarely) buy feminine clothes, the vendor usually suggests I also buy a pushup bra. They actually treat my breasts as deformities. There’s a lot of pressure put on women to conform to a very narrow beauty standard.

  184. I’m trying to teach myself that as long as I am healthy, how I look doesn’t matter. That’s an uphill battle, though.
    I have learned to love my breasts, though! Who cares if one is slightly bigger than the other? I had a conversation at work, and almost all of the women had one breast that was larger than the other. Some had more than one cup size difference.
    I talked to my husband about it, and he said that men love all size breasts. Why can’t we women do the same?

  185. My boobs aren’t even in ‘fraternal twin’ category – more like 2nd cousins

    I so know this one… sigh. (One boob is a large D, the other a small C)

    I actually really identified with the original article, because I hate my boobs. I have referred to them as triangles of flesh spawned by my armpits. Because of an injury to my neck, wearing a bra is painful so I am in the process of looking at a reduction so I don’t have so much weight to carry on my shoulders and upper back. (Going bra-less isnt an option – Im studying to be a personal trainer. Bouncing around HURTS.) I think I’ll be in a lot less pain as a more-symmetrical A or B.

  186. Hi Chava,

    I very specifically mean transvestites, and even more specifically those who do shows. Mmmm, maybe I was mistakenly equating her use of the word “transvestite” with “drag queen.” They take the little performances that most women are expected to do (and to do in so subtle a way that it seems a natural consequence of being female) and amplify them so that you’re forced to pay attention to the fact that it’s being performed.

    I’m not sure of the exact breakdown and proper usage of those terms–I’m sorry if I misused them in an offensive way :(

  187. What struck me is that some of the things D’Souza pinpoints as problems aren’t to do with having large breasts in itself, but with how society treats women, especially those with large breasts. The street harassment, the assumptions about her sexuality, the sense of needing to fit a certain model of femininity – all culturally imposed issues.

    So basically, we need a feminist revolution.

  188. My favourite ever Dolly Parton quote was when someone apparently commented on her tiny feet and she said “well, Darlin’, they never got a lot of light…”

    I really like Freya bras, they are the most consistently supportive big bras i’ve found, and not too expensive (usually around £30, or a bit less).

    I’ve also never noticed anyone talking to my boobs, though I am autistic and thus don’t really notice where people are looking as I’m usually trying to avoid them noticing that I am crap at eye contact…

    Also, a friend told me I should be someone’s girlfriend (I think she meant the girlfriend of A Lady rather than A Chap, sort of thing, as I am in fact someone’s girlfriend but he has no boobs of his own and thus I’d be no use on this front) as when she was moaning about her supposedly lopsided boobs I said “really? I never noticed, I am usually too busy thinking ‘nice rack!'”

  189. While everyone is on the topic of bras, I suddenly wondered:

    Is the cups on a, let’s say, 36C and a 40C the same? Or a 32A and a 42A?

    My own story, to contribute: I was really, really shy of my large breasts since Grade 7 or so; I was an outcast to begin with, so to have this one girl harassing me about my breast size almost every day was torture. I can’t remember my size back then, but I now wear a 40D (which I think, may be the wrong size since there’s some discomfort). Only when I was around 18 have I started really loving my breasts, and my current boyfriend has helped a lot in that aspect.

    Is the idea of large breasts different in Singapore than what it is in America – or is it the same? If you have anything over a B or a C it’s like “WHOAHHHH” here. I haven’t seen anything larger than a 38C in most shops except Wacoal and Triumph; I managed to find my bras in a little shop tucked away from town, whose owner catered to larger sizes. Even then it’s only up to an E or F.

  190. I agree with Meems that there’s a misconception that all large breasted women have back or shoulder pain. I have 36Js (and oh, how happy I am that Royce now do sports bras up to a true J and not the H they used to call a J!) and I don’t have back or shoulder pain. I feel a lot of empathy for women who do, and I don’t want to dismiss their pain, but it’s not an universal experience.

    Also, I don’t hunch my shoulders, and if Christa D’Souza thinks I do, she can come round here and poke me in the trapezius and make up her own mind.

  191. If the cup is too small, turn the bra upside down so you can get the band up on your ribcage where it should be, and just ignore the cups for now.

    This is awesome. Thank you, Spike! How simple, and yet, it’s never occurred to me.

  192. D’Souza’s attitude reflects so many sad and infuriating things about Western culture. Ugh.

    I naturally have “odd” proportions so that I *shock!horror!* have to buy separate swimsuit tops and bottoms if I want either piece to fit anywhere close to how it should. However have I functioned this long?! I also have an “ideal” bra size on a body that is “less than ideal” (by the standards of people other than me). My true bra size is 34DDD(/F?), but it’s easier to find 36DD, so that’s what I tend to wear. But my small ribcage/big rack is paired with a round belly and 46-inch hips. If my lower body were thinner, I’m sure I would attract hushed (or not-so-hushed) comments about how my boobs can’t possibly be real and I’m such a slut to have been born in this body. *eyeroll* Can’t win.

    Oh, add me to the list of ladies who have different-sized boobs (a cup size difference, been that way since middle school) and also large-breasted ladies who prefer to go braless. As long as I’m not running or jumping, my boobs are just fine without any manmade support. If I thought I could go braless to work without HR saying anything about my “professionalism,” I totally would.

  193. I just went up a size, AGAIN, and it wasn’t fun.
    DD to E
    I haven’t gained weight, I’ve actually lost some.
    I’m almost forty and my breasts are still growing.

    Will they stop at some point?

  194. Anwen, I have to agree with you about Freya bras. I was so excited when I first realized that there was a brand that made pretty bras in my size that actually fit. I also like Fayreform, but the vast majority of my bras are Freya.

    And I just checked out of curiosity. Not only can I see my feet when I look straight down between the boobs, but I can also still see my feet while wearing a bra. And it’s not as though I have especially large feet (I wear a size 7-7.5) or a long neck…

  195. “I am a little baffled by the “male attention” the other large busted ladies on this thread all seem to have noted. I guess it’s possible I am simply totally freaking oblivious, but I really don’t notice men staring at my chest–I mean, once in a blue moon, sure. But not so I notice.

    Hm. And just had a moment of “ohmygod am I ugly because the men don’t harass me???”

    Yeah, this describes my experience fairly exactly, right down to the depressing occasional thought patterns about it.”

    +1. I don’t get noticed by guys much at all. I’m not looking to be, as I’m quite happily married, but I never get cat-called or wolf-whistled and can only remember a handful of times when I’ve caught men talking to my 30Gs. Most of the time I’m glad not to have to deal with the attention, but there are a few times when I wonder what the hell is wrong with the way I look. It’s embarrassing.

  196. that’s sad, her story makes me sad. I had a boob job at 18 and went from a 36A to a 36C (but a large C). At the time I was struggling with a lot of body issues, as you can imagine (what I was doing getting a boob job at 18 I just dont know and what my mother was doing loaning me $2000 for it and letting me do it I also don’t know). Still, today I have grown to love the skin I’m in… and I love my boobies too, even though they’re enhanced with saline :)

  197. delurking!

    The self loathing in the original article really punched me in the gut. I’m still a long, long way from finding peace with my own body and it made me think- “do I hate myself as much as this? Oh, god.”

    I get angry because I haven’t been able to wear a tailored button-down shirt since highschool. As a 40E with broad shoulders and a broad ribcage, I’ve had employers tell me to wear “less-revealing” clothes – because in anything short of a muumuu, you can still tell I have breasts.

    And like so many others upthread, I hunch. I hunch to hide the fact that I have them. To hide the fact that if I stand up straight they’ll be out there for ridicule. :T

    That said, for folks in the NJ/NYC area, two bra shopping suggestions where I get Le Mystere bras (which I love)- near Trenton is a great bra shop called “Sylene’s” on rt. 1. Because of the economy, they’ve been downsizing their stock, but they’ve generally kept a really broad selection of sizes, up to a G or H cup IIRC.

    The other place, which surprised me, was Bergdorf Goodman’s in NYC. I felt very weird going in there to shop- in my jeans and t-shirt and a body that seemed to take up alot more space than the wealthy ladies shopping there- but the saleswoman in the bra department never once made me feel uncomfortable, and brought me a fantastic variety of different brands to try on for comfort and fit.

  198. If I may comment from the queer side of the party?

    BREASTS ARE AWESOME.

    Now you know my feelings on the subject. Good day to you all! :D

  199. I went through a phase later than usual (age 20 or so) when I realized I was attractive.. suddenly I wanted to be noticed, I dressed to impress and I spent a lot of time trying to see if people were noticing me! During this time I got a TON of attention. Now I am back to my customary ways (wandering about lost in thought, rarely engaging with anyone or noticing what they are doing) and gosh, I can’t remember the last time I saw someone check me out (and I am a lot conventionally ‘hotter’ now than I was then). So what I am saying is, I think a lot of it can be your personal perception. If you are more attuned to other people, you notice what they are focusing on. Plus, other people pick up on it sometimes when you are carrying yourself a certain way or seem flirtatious and are more likely to give you overt attention.

    Great posts about bra fitting, Spike! Ah, boobs. And bras. For some reason I never felt half as bad about not having much bosom as I was supposed to.. but then I’ve gotten lucky in general with body hatred. I know women who are normal sizes on the smaller end of the spectrum (none of them are or have ever been AAs like I was until recently), that are so bizarrely consumed with the deficiency of their breast size and the fact that it means that not only are they not sexually desirable, but that they are unworthy of sexual pleasure. Or something. I know a woman who refuses to remove her push-up bras during sex. Serious.

    I was completely flat – then was wearing a 32AA. I finally put on some weight in the last year and was fitting a 32A in some brands but bras were always so uncomfortable I rarely wore one for long. I did a bit of research and I am actually a 28C in my go-to brand and ahhhh, the comfort. I need a small band and a wide and shallow cup, not a loose 32 with cups I can’t quite fill and underwires that cut my boobs in half. Despite having very small breasts and no hang, my boobs are sensitive and I prefer ‘support’ (in my case just squishing them in a bit) especially during the two weeks after ovulation. I have spent plenty of time braless over the years but I really do prefer a bra most of the time at this point.

  200. I’m with meems and ankaret. I get constantly annoyed with the implications that all large-breasted women have back and shoulder pain, thus needing a reduction. I’m a 44J, and the only back and shoulder pain I get is from sleeping on a shitty mattress.

    Case in point: Toccara from America’s Next Top Model. Anytime new pics of her show up, someone always says:

    “She’d get much more work if she gets those puppies reduced.”
    “Damn, her back must hurt all the time holding those up.”
    “She’ll look much more proportional if she got rid of them.”
    “They must be fake because they didn’t get smaller when she lost all that weight.”

    Good grief. Body shaming much?

    I understand that there are women who have medical problems, and I’m glad that they can get this procedure done, especially those who are fortunate enough to have insurance that will cover it. However, I’m just tired of people who tout it as some magical panacea without considering mitigating factors. I’m also tired of people who get them done solely because they hate shopping for clothes, and then whine endlessly about having to pay for it themselves.

  201. Responding to Muse of Ire, from way WAY back in the thread about specialty bra retailers in/around Philly.

    I’m lucky enough to be able to get my bra needs taken care of at the KoP Nordstrom’s, but I did a quick look around Yelp and found two highly rated specialty shops: Harriet’s Innewear (out on East Passyunk) and Coeur (right in my ‘hood by Rittenhouse Square). I don’t have my own personal experience of these places — though I might just check out Coeur, since it’s so close to home and all. :)

    Hope either of these turn out to be helpful for you!!!

  202. Congratulations fuzzyoctopus!

    What I’m getting from this thread is that as with bodies, so with breasts. Everyone gets pressured. You’re too small, you’re too big, there’s some mythical perfect size that doesn’t actually exist but is handy to generate judgments to keep everyone flailing around full of self-loathing so we buy more bras/underthings/equipment/pills/diet programs… shit, essentially.

    Meanwhile none of the clothing made for us really embraces that we come in a huge diversity of sizes, so we flagellate ourselves for not fitting into clothes that were made to be manufactured rather than made for bodies. Starting with our underwear and working outward.

    Now I feel like I need to go bra shopping. ;)

  203. I feel like I need to get my good fucking sewing machine fixed so I can finish my corset. Support from below is going to be my liberation!

    I hunch like mad, and I do think it has something to do with wanting to disappear my breasts, since they became the fucking focal point of my personality (see high school angst post above). It’s so hard to remember to stand up straight; I need a Posture Pal!

    With the hunching comes sore neck muscles, made worse by the fact that straps on bras are not long enough to keep the weight off my shoulders. The band is perfect, the cups are fine, but the distance allotted me between top-of-cup and top-of-band in the back is just too damn short. My breasts are sort of, I dunno, narrow where they attach to the horizontal plane of my chest, and then deep and wide from chest to nipple, and so they hang down pretty low (especially since I am so short-waisted that sometimes my ribcage and my hip bones lock together when I try to stretch to the side). Instead of just stabilizing so I don’t swing back and forth, strapped bras wind up lifting more than they’re designed to and hang too much weight on my shoulders. Or maybe my cup size is still too small.

    *scampers off to figleaves*

  204. With the hunching comes sore neck muscles, made worse by the fact that straps on bras are not long enough to keep the weight off my shoulders.

    It’s funny; I have the opposite problem. The straps tend to be too long for me, and ALL the weight goes on the band, which I know it’s supposed to mostly be there, but bands that are tight enough to be really supportive end up digging into my skin and causing painful welts. I’ve thought about the corset thing too; I have a friend who makes them and it might really work.

  205. @LilahMorgan – they are seriously comfortable things. It can get way hot, sure, but the one I’m making is all washable and all cotton, so once it gets too sweaty-gross to wear it can just go in with the rest of the laundry. Like, well, the rest of the laundry, really. *rolls eyes at Captain Obvious self over here*

  206. The D’Souza article has that sort of “what does the dog do when it catches the car?” tragedy. I’ll be fine when I change this and I change that. It’s sad. If you don’t like the getting of the changes and trying on new body types, I think it would be a mistake to get augmentation after all, I don’t think it’s your body type that makes the attraction. I think it’s more effective to work with one’s own unique combinations and strengths.

  207. Hm. And just had a moment of “ohmygod am I ugly because the men don’t harass me???”

    I have that exact same thought whenever my friends get hit on and I don’t. :(

  208. If her breasts were like “spaniel’s ears” then mine are definitely bloodhound ears, they’ve been vertical since high school. And what’s wrong with fried eggs? Mmm, with a runny yolk for dipping toast.

    @Muse of Ire & MezzoSherri. While Harriets has good reviews online my experience wasn’t so wonderful. I went in for a fitting and the owner was not very pleasant. In addition she brought me a 50C bra which clearly was too small in the cup. She insisted it fit though I was overflowing at the top. Someday I’ll get my tush up to Nordstroms.

  209. Man, that woman manages to be insulting to pretty much every bra size in that article, doesn’t she? As a 36-38G (depending on the bra etc etc) and at 5 foot 2 and-a-ciggy-end I have been dealing with all the *oh SO terrible trauma* she mentions since… well, fuck. I know I have an old bra somewhere that is a D cup which I was wearing when I was around 13-14 so yeah… a while. Although I tend not to hunch to try and hide mine… it hurts my back.

    Funny thing. UK clothing company New Look has extended their bra range to… I think up to an F cup. Now, all their standard bra sizes have always included a rather large wad of padding to sort of increase apparent bust size and cleavage. Obviously I think all women should be able to be happy with what they have and not feel the need to “enhance” their boobage but each to their own; I know my smaller-chested lady friends all like bras with padding and the like in.

    However. whoever in New Look was given the job of designing their larger size bras obviously didn’t do much work. The larger bras all ALSO have the padding… and it is scaled UP with the cup size, so a size F bra has enough padding in to make the wearer look aroung a G to H!

  210. Oh, and all of you that have been having problems getting a bra to support right either in shoulders or chest and are looking into corsets… try a longline bra/short basque first. My OH bought me one for my Birthday and it is THE COMFIEST thing I have ever worn. I can even wear it strapless! And not have pain!

  211. i dont know what it is with a society who looks at large breasted women as an “asset”. i mean in the end it all comes down to being comfortable in your own skin. confidence makes a woman sexy, not the size of their breast or the perfect 36-24-36 measurement. i know it’s stereotypical to say what i just said but it is true if you think about it :)

  212. @ Ayelle & Chava:

    About two years ago, I went from a 34H to a 36B. It was something I needed to do because my back and shoulders went into complete rebellion. I went from occasionally having back issues, and trouble breathing on hikes, to Physical therapy, crippling muscle spasms, and popping muscle relaxers like candy.

    No one was pressuring me to do it, I had much closer to Ayelle’s experience on that. I got the horrified looks, and gasps of “you’re getting them REDUCED? WHY?! People pay good money to get what you grew?!” I especially loved “OMG, Won’t your Boyfriend be MAD?”

    I had so much of my body image and female-ness mentally tied up in the Rack of doom that I just couldn’t face it until then. It was over a year before I could stand to look at myself in the mirror. My body was just so alien, and in my mind I looked like a 10-year-old. I was still bustier than several other women I know, who all looked fabulous… It was just me who looked freakishly disproportional with a B.

    But now, and partially with the help of this Blog, I love the new me, scars and all.

    And the scariest thing? Realizing that I had actually semi-permanently compressed my ribs in an attempt to not wear bras like necklaces. 2 years out, my band measurement is now a 38, my ribs have actually expanded 4 inches from not being constantly compressed.

    I obviously am not recommending this for everyone. Personally, I had some major psychological issues with it, and deeply wish I was in with those of you who never develop any pain from them. But I will say that if it truly is medically necessary for someone, it’s worth it.

    @ Polly: According to my surgeon, it depends on your type. * Some women have primarily fatty tissue breasts, which tend to change size with weight changes.
    * Some women have smallish primarily glandular tissue breasts, which just sit there and ignore weight changes and the passage of time, happily being the size they want to be forever.
    * Some women have the type of primarily glandular tissue breast that never ever stops growing.

  213. I’m a 40DD and have such immense trouble finding a comfortable bra that I go braless more often than not. They don’t seem to have suffered too much from this, although I have a bigger friend who keeps nagging me about it – ‘You only find bras uncomfortable because you don’t persevere with them!’ Well…underwires either gape at the front or leave a big red welt all the way round me, and non-underwires tend to roll up at the bottom. This is even when I’ve been ‘professionally fitted’ (and I’ve had some places fit me so many back sizes smaller than I actually am that I can literally hardly breathe, then assure me ‘You’ll get used to it’. Yeah, if I live that long.) Also, I get the assistants who assume that because I’m this big I must want a minimizer, i.e. to have half my boobs shoved under my armpits.

    Also, back size…I’m forever seeing great bras that I’d like to try, but the styles, while they’re starting to come in bigger cups, often don’t go above a 38 back. I’m lucky in that, given that styles vary, I can sometimes get into a 38…but not always.

    Recently we had a ruckus here over Marks and Spencers charging an extra £2 for bras over a DD cup. They dropped the charge eventually – quite rightly – but a lot of the comments I read were along the line of ‘Oh, I can’t help having a big cup size, but these women who have big back sizes have just eaten themselves that way…’ Grr. I get similarly miffed at Bravissimo – I linked to this once before, but this is their statement on why they don’t make bras above a 40 back. Pretty darned patronizing, I think.

    http://www.bravissimo.com/marketing/plus-size-bras.aspx

    I say all this, and I actually seriously like my boobs. They don’t cause me any trouble in themselves – I think the only thing that would make me consider a reduction is if I got, say, back pain from them, which I don’t. It’s just all the stuff that seems to be involved in their upkeep (sorry) these days that bugs me. Rather ironically, the one garment I own that is absolutely comfortable and supports the rack exactly as I like it is a little nothing black top I bought for $2 at Value Village. Ah, the joy of thrifting.

  214. Loz, I’d totally join that club! And I know a couple of girls that would too. Man, thr pictures from those meetings would be funny as hell!

    Also, loving the links to good bra shopping sites (adored the bravissimo store, strapless H cups?? I didn’t even know they made that!) and getting seriously depressed because I just can’t find any stores like that in my country (Argentina, btw). I’m tempted to order some online but with the convertion rate, it’s far too expensive and I don’t really dare spend that kind of money without trying it on. Anyone have any good tips to ordering the right bra online? Or any other suggestions I could use? Thanks!

  215. This thread just brings back so many “happy” memories, starting with the aunt who had no boobs among 4 sisters that did, and how insecure it made her. My college roommate who made me hide the rollingstone with christina aguliera on the cover from her bf, because he made her feel like shit because she had no boobs. My friend that suggested to another friend (who probably has a C cup,) that she’d probably like to get her boobs done if she had the money, right? And then most recently the conversation where some guy said, well the C is optimal, while I sat and thought so, great, I’m less than optimal….like it’s some kind of grade. I like my boobs. I think cleavage is great. In fact, I’m not afraid if a lot of my boobs show, even though some people argue this is anti-feminist or makes me look a whore. I think it’s ridiculous how hard it is to find bras, especially now that I wear a larger size, how difficult matching sets are to find in larger sizes and how clothes don’t fit as well sometimes because of it….but I like my tits, as big as they are, and like katy said, “Oh good, because I hate trying to remember which drawer I put my AAs in back in December.”!!!!

  216. who stares at their feet in the shower anyway?

    Probably people who shave their toes/feet. Though if you’re going to get down there with a razor, you’ll have to bend over eventually, so problem solved.

    I feel pretty butch most of the time, but I hardly think it has much to do with my large boobs. In fact, having to sling them into a bra pretty much kills any gender bending I feel into. I don’t wear one most of the time these days, but I only started that recently, so I can’t tell if the sag is inevitable or the result of wearing a bra. I can say they’re a lot less tender now that I let them roam free, and when they give me problems they usually want to be stuffed into a tight bra for a while.

    I do remember that feeling of an alien body when I gained two cup sizes in a year. Nothing fit, they stopped being fun loving and started being tender all the time. I can’t imagine going from a B to an E all at once, especially on such a small frame. I kind of have the nightmare that I will wake up and be two more cup sizes up. I already can’t buy bras in stores, I don’t want to be sized out of the paltry online offerings.

  217. MezzoSherri, thanks! I work literally across the street from the KoP mall, and I also live near Rittenhouse Square. It’s awesome to have choices!

    Constance, I wasn’t considering Harriet’s because it’s geographically undesirable for me, but now I know I’m safe ignoring it on other grounds. Thanks.

  218. Bunny Mazonas, I have a couple of those padded bras from Debenhams’ Gorgeous range, (which is aimed solely at women with large cup-sizes), and, prior to trying one out, I’d never understood why they had padding in them either. However, they’re generally serious plunge bras, (at least mine are), and I think it must be necessary to their “shaped” construction. They’re not as seriously padded as the ones I wore when I was 14 and had no boobs whatsoever – and they do amazing things for the girls.

  219. I can just about see the tips of my (UK size 4, smallest easily available women’s shoe size…) feet when standing up wearing a bra, and I’m a 36F. Mind you, implants are often “bigger looking” for a given size because they tend to be fuller all over than natural boobs which tend to have most of their fullness at one point and more of a gentle slope towards the fullest point. e.g I’m fairly sure Pamela Anderson at the height of her Baywatch boobathons was meant to be a 34C/D and that was with implants, yet she looked far bigger than I did when (for a few months, aged 15 or so and a stone below the “underweight” line on the charts) I was a 34C because they started higher up the chest.

    Not that some women don’t have breasts like that naturally (I know, for instance, that my upper chest is fuller than average, at least judging by sewing books/forums where there tends to be a lot of discussion about adapting patterns to avoid having empty cloth above the rack…) and my point is not to be body shaming, including women who have got implants because, well, it’s their body. I don’t even know what my point is. Mostly “yay boobies! damn, it’s hot in here, I don’t like this hot weather” I think. My brain has officially melted.

  220. Just popped back to say that, out of curiousity, I took a look at hipsandcurves.com and they have a few 48 and 50Bs available. They’re underwires, which isn’t my thing, but they’re a LOT more attractive than what I’m used to wearing.

  221. @StormFire
    Wait, never stop?! Are… are you sure there isn’t a FOURTH category… one that seem slike the ones that never stop but they actually do and the moment they stop will be right now? Please?

    @buffpuff
    Oh, I know padding can be integral to shape, but the ones I saw had literally a 2 inch thick wad of padding in them! I think the designers at New Look just don’t get how bras work above a certain size. But yeah, Debenhams do make some lurvely bras. I am determined to find a bra pattern and remake that yellow check one with the red and white spotty ribbon and broderie anglaise in my size!

  222. This is from way upthread, and a bit irrelevent, but I was surprised. Peggy said, “On the other hand, I had a B-ish cupped housemate who told me that she thought sports bras were a “scam” to try and get women to buy specialized athletic gear they didn’t need. Maybe that kind of ignorance about what it’s like to live in a body shaped differently from one’s own is not unusual.”

    When I was a 34B, I sure as shit needed a sports bra when I was running! The girls really ached if I didn’t. Maybe your housemate just hadn’t done any exercise that needed proper bazooma support?…

  223. I will say this. Having breast cancer seriously does a number on your body image. This woman did not have chemo (which does its own set of fun things to your body), but at the very least she had the lump removed (which usually leaves a nice divot and corresponding scar) and she had radiation, which changes the skin color, hardens and shrinks the tissue, and usually leaves you with a nice set of little black tattoos.

    Before I had breast cancer, I had finally reached a place of peace with my body and my looks. I didn’t match society’s standards of beauty, but I felt beautiful more often than not. Now? I can’t stand looking in the mirror. I’ve heard other survivors say similar things. So some of this woman’s self loathing may not be about breast size, but about anger at a body that betrayed her.

  224. I’m with Mary Sue, btw. Breasts are awesome.

    Also, I just spent the day at work without a bra. That represents the frist time I have left the house without a bra on since I was, like, 12. OMG SHAPELINGS WILL YOU STOP MAKING MY LIFE BETTER ALREADY.

    (I wore a stretchy strappy top under my work shirt that had a built-in shelf thing under it, in case anyone’s wondering. It was so comfortable I didn’t even notice I was wearing it, and the girls were fine. Amazing.)

  225. Caitlin, jooc–

    How do you avoid the temptation to tuck your shirt under your chest? I find mine have enough skin-to-skin contact that it gets uncomfortable unless I, er, fold my shirt up underneath them there puppies.

    While comfortable, it is *def* NSFW…

  226. Folks who are considering going the way of the corset (which are excellently comfortable, but not necessarily practical for daily wear – although I did used to wear one for housework because it supported my lower back nicely) – try looking for bras that have a strip of boning in the side. Somehow they’re sometimes a little more supportive than a normal (boning-free) bra and yet not as overall restrictive as a long-line or corset. (Fantasie’s plain old seamed full-cup basic bra is kind of ugly in that industrial way, but has the side boning and is seriously more supportive on me than a lot of sports bras I’ve tried.)

    Another thing which can make a difference (but is woefully hard to find in larger cup sizes) is if the bra has a cross-back or racer back option. I actually pay extra for a ‘multi-way’ bra just because it lets me wear it with the straps crossed which is SO much more comfortable for me. (Though this means you get strap show with some shirts that you might not otherwise expect, because the straps come in closer to your neck.) I’m actually considering doing ‘surgery’ on some of my older bras to make them cross-back.

  227. Chava, I do the same thing! At least, I do it with jammies at home, anyway. Sooo comfy. Especially in the heat, when skin-to-skin contact is the last thing I want!

  228. “Probably people who shave their toes/feet. ”

    Damn, I’ve never actually seen someone else admit this before! I always shave my toes, though they only have a few hairs on the two largest, but actually only shave my legs like once a year – somehow the hairy toes bother me and hairy legs don’t at all. Maybe it’s a hobbit thing.

    Bit off-topic but not sure where else to put it, people might enjoy this positive piece on the fab Dawn French: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1197090/Ive-got-body-blindness-Im-bothered-weight-says-Dawn-French.html
    Yes, I know it’s in the horrible Daily Fail but if you skip the crap at the end, it’s nice just to hear a celebrity publicly say that the only time she was ever unhappy with her body was when she went against her natural instincts and dieted.

  229. I’m a 36F and though I try to dress attractively and neatly, I frequently feel shame over my body type. It seems that no matter what I wear, men and even women, stare at my chest. In cooler weather, I wear jackets and cardigans in hopes of distracting the eye, but the temperatures where I live are up to 107 degrees in the daytime now, and whenever I wear a dress or a single top, I get appraising stares. I don’t always know if the stares are lustful, scornful, or grossed out but it is damn hard to feel comfortable when someone is gazing at my chest.

    I’ve heard smaller-breasted women say that women like me should dress not to draw attention, but I wonder what I could wear that obfuscates my shape without looking ugly and frumpy. High-necked tops make my breasts look bigger. Flowy tops make me look pregnant. The only flattering cuts for my shape are fitted v-necks and scoopnecks, and these tops generally don’t stay in place properly as they are sized for a B-cup when I am an F-cup. I must own two dozen camisoles to go under my tops, but it certainly gets tiring getting eyed like I am a slut no matter how many layers I am wearing to cover my cleavage, when smaller-breasted women are going braless in skimpy camisoles while giving me stinkeye.

    I find that some women are prone to making moral judgments about breast size. It’s been implied to me that I could have smaller breasts if I lost weight, though even back when my 5’10”, large-boned frame had a 26″ waist, I was getting told the same thing. I’m not sure how much thinner I was realistically going to get, and I still had very large breasts and all the stares and comments and pervy hangers-on that come with them.

  230. Spike, I actually find the side boning uncomfortable and have been known to cut it out of some of my bras. I’d suggest going up a band size for anyone who wants to get boning in the bra.

    Andrea…yeah, i shave my big toe, too. That hair drives me nuts.

  231. *wants so badly to make a joke about “side boning discomfort,” but will stuff the 12 year old girl mind away*

    Heh. Boning.

  232. @ BunnyMazonas
    There may be another category, but he’s a boob specialist (both up- and down-sizing) and he didn’t mention it.

    I’ve already regained about a half a cup-size, and Mom’s gone up 1.5 cups. My surgery was 2 years ago, and Mom’s was in 2001… so, 8 years.

    The only upside I can find is that he mentioned that type sometimes stops in menopause, but that’s a damned long wait for me.

  233. There are days when my D’s seem massive, and other days when they feel anywhere from modest to downright inadequate.

    But for the majority of days, they feel fine. Honestly, they are one of the bits of my body I was earliest to make peace with, and… I genuinely LIKE them. I mean, they suit me. And they’re so soft and pillowy. Friends, small children, animals, all instinctively sink into them for comfort. I can use them when I’m lying on my tummy to get cozy. They make my chest look nice and they set off my throat in a way I can’t describe, I just look… nice, with a low-cut top and a bit of OMG cleavage. They’re shaped nice. They feel squishy and delightful to intimate partners. They feel squishy and delightful in general. I get a lot of pleasure out of having them touched. I enjoy my breasts.

    I feel so sad that this woman doesn’t get to share in that kind of joy. :( I wish she could love the body she’s in, whether it’s one she was born with or one she fashioned.

    Boobs are great. Her boobs are great. Mine are. Yours are. Wanna know why? They’re a part of our lovely bodies, which are all great, even when they’re not, because they’re pushing us around in this big ol’ wacky world.

    …wow, THAT didn’t sound sappy at all. But I’m leaving that last paragraph in just the same. It is sappy because great truths leak sap, such that if we harvest it we can make truth serum… and inject it in people’s boobs?

    I can think of better places for it I guess. Hearts and minds and things. My left big toe could use a little truth. Anyway. What was I talking about?

    Oh yeah. I wish I could share the boob love with everybody. I wish I could share it with the other areas of my body. But at least I have it with one and that’s a start!

  234. “Probably people who shave their toes/feet.”

    Well wouldn’t you have to get up close anyway? I mean – I am near sighted, and don’t wear my glasses in the shower. Also, I can’t shave while standing up without leaning over…

  235. We all have the same bits, in varying shapes, sizes, ideals, insecurities. All sounds like a case of the grass is always greener, to me. You’re right, D’Souza’s article is about self-hatred, she uses “body-shaming” language – but she uses it honestly and frankly. It’s her body to shame, and that’s just how she felt. It’s sad, but that’s the point. I’m proud of her for having a sense of humor about the trauma she’s been through.

  236. I can see my feet perfectly especially when I sit to shave the legs (and toes, lol). Yippee for shower seats! Best home improvement I ever made was putting in a walk in shower with grab bars and tiled seat. Well, after the powder room on the first floor.

    I heart Dawn French.

  237. Just wondering, do any other be-Rack-of-Doomed Shapelings find that they end up spilling stuff on ‘em all the time? I have just had to interview someone, my lunchtime sandwich having handily dripped mayo on the rack. I don’t remember this happening as much when I was thinner with proportionally smaller boobs (I was a 36DD – UK sizes – and am now 38G).

    buffpuff – I have one padded plunge bra and it’s now at the back of my knicker drawer, as it makes my boobs look like watermelons and makes me self-conscious whenever I wear it. It was from M&S, however. I might have a look in Debenhams this weekend if you think the Gorgeous range is good!

  238. Mary: I buy all my bras online. As I am sure you know, size and fit vary hugely between brands and between styles in the same brand. So, I order one style in one brand at a time, in a range of sizes that usually work for me, and immediately return the ones that aren’t perfect. I don’t buy sale items unless it’s a double of one I already own, because usually there are no returns..

    Style has a lot to do with how well something will work for you too. I know I need a cup that’s more shallow, an underwire that’s wider and ends under my arms, and that I have little volume at the top of my breasts so balconette and demi styles work the best. At this point I can size up how a bra will fit me just from looking at it on an airbrushed model whose figure is nothing like mine.. pretty impressive I think! The product reviews are very helpful as well, people will mention when the cups run big or small, and when they have particular problems. I do most of my shopping on boudiche.com and figleaves.com, but there are a ton of other wonderful sites out there (just few that carry my size).

    Once I know a brand works for me well (Mimi Holliday is my go-to right now, everything I’ve tried fits me well in a 28C), I am a little less cautious.

  239. Just wondering, do any other be-Rack-of-Doomed Shapelings find that they end up spilling stuff on ‘em all the time?

    Yes, and always when I wear light-colored tops.

    38G here. I had been a D/DD for many years, then I started drinking a lot when my mom died, and suddenly sprouted gigantic ta-tas (I was a 40H/I at one point). I’ve stopped drinking, and they’re shrinking a bit. Heavy-duty chest presses/pushups/yadda yadda not doing a damn thing to perk them up, really, even as I’m getting some really serious pecs, so I generally wear a bra when I venture out. Inside, I’ll go braless, but the skin-to-skin bugs me in the heat. Just the way I’m built, I suppose.

    From the author’s description of her breasts post-baby (fried eggs, spaniel’s ears), it sounds like what she wasn’t happy with was the shape of them rather than the size. But she fixed the size rather than the shape, and wound up with something that felt alien.

    Bra shops: two in the NYC area that haven’t been mentioned and which I highly recommend are The Town Shop (Broadway around 83rd) and Orchard Corset (Orchard Street, closed Saturdays because they’re Ultraorthodox). The Town Shop has a better selection, but is more expensive, while Orchard Corset has bras at half-price, and will occasionally have a sale for half off that.

    And Orchard Corset really must be experienced, just for the slice-of-old-New-York it offers: It’s a narrow, jumbled little shop. There’s no merchandise out, except for what’s in the window. The walls are lined with shelves, which hold the boxes in which the merchandise is kept. You know your bra doesn’t fit if the proprietor (beard, side curls, yarmulke, prayer shawl) cocks his head to the side as he looks at you and asks, “Are you happy with that bra?” He’ll have you turn around, ask your size, then scurry up a ladder, get some bras and send you behind a curtain with his assistant, who will put you into the bra. And it will fit. And, if you’re like the woman from the tour bus that pulled up as I was in there with my sister a few months ago, you’ll come out of the back area and announce, “I got the power!”

  240. I was just visiting a bra size calculator to see what it says my bra size is, and was surprised by the size it spit out. 38 DD. A size that is way too big for me. I fill a B cup at that band size. I do have a big ribcage and relatively broad, muscular shoulders, though, so maybe the online calculator program sees my bust measurement and thinks “OMG BOOBEZ” when the tape measure is just recording that I have huge shoulder muscles. It drives home that the next time I have money for Fancy Underthings, I should get my tuckus to a nice lingerie shop and have a fitting.

    lucizoe said: *wants so badly to make a joke about “side boning discomfort,” but will stuff the 12 year old girl mind away*

    Heh. Boning.

    Haha, yeah. Every time someone says “Boning in *insert item of clothing here* is uncomfortable”, I want to ask if they’ve tried having sex when they’re NOT wearing it.

    Pubescent minds FTW. ;)

  241. Like most things, there’s side boning and side boning. I admit I actively search for bras without it – first, because with underwires I find it superfluous, and second, because it always inevitably jabs me in the side when I bend and stretch throughout normal life.(*)

    But I do have one that has it, and it’s so amazingly comfortable that I didn’t even notice this bra had side boning until I got it home. (Ok, call me oblivious.) It’s because the side boning isn’t one piece of plastic, it’s two, and they’re curved like parentheses: )( with stretchy stuff between them. So when I bend, they move apart instead of fight the movement. For me, it works really well.

    (*Why do so many bra manufacturers appear not to take into account that women do more than just stand around when they design bras? We actually do things like sit, bend over, squat, reach, twist…you know, daily movement stuff. And I’ve had so many bras that technically fit, which looked great while I was standing still in front of the mirror, suddenly not fit and look like hell when I did the sit test or the bend over and shake test. Um, if you can’t support me well when I’m bent over, ur doin’ it rong.)

  242. @ zuzu and thegirlfrommarz—

    Huh. I rarely spill things *on* mine–rather, they spill/fall down the Cleavage of Doom and get stuck there. Trying to discreetly fish stuff out of your boobies is….difficult, at best. Sense of humor helps.

    Zuzu–I dunno, I don’t find that the presses and such make mine perkier, but they do seem to stabilize my back and help with any back or shoulder pain issues.

  243. A 5ft 2 Londoner here, a 28G or 30FF and I only ever shop at Bravissimo now or the department store near my parents’ house Pearsons (in Enfield) which stocks my favourite brand Freya. I used to wear a 32DD or E on the very smallest hook when I was younger because 32 was the smallest back size you could actually find! When they launched Fantasie in the 1990s, it was like a revelation and I was positively ecstatic when it’s younger sister Freya was born (they are they same company). It just goes to show that whatever ever falls outside some narrow middle distribution of size/shape of today’s mass produced clothing, is just ignored completely on the high (main) street!

    The funny thing is no-one ever seems to notice that I have large boobs either, as similarly reported by Chava and others above. Now this really bugs me. Not because I need validation, bitchiness or ogling mind, but because the cheapest non-sale bra I can actually buy is about £30; I can’t run without folding my arms under/over ‘the girls'; and I can’t get clothes to fit as I have a small waist. So I get all of the negatives and none of the bleeding positives!

    It’s really quite dislocating to take your clothes off in front of men or women (sex for the former, clothes trying and sports for the latter :-)) and them to literally double take and say: G-d I had no idea you had such huge t*ts!

    Clearly I need to wear tighter clothes.

    On this, I only partially jest. I’m quite partial to girls really.

  244. WestEndGirl, even when your chest size is pretty obvious, you still get some very funny reactions from both men and women when taking your clothes off! Though I have to say a guy touching them, commenting on the fact that they were heavy, and then attempting to figure out exactly how heavy, must be among the… weirdest ones.

    Bonnie, thanks a million for the tips, I’ll be sure to put them to good use in the nearby future, I already got my eye on a few really cute bras, and shirts, and tank tops, and jackets… just a few things (?)

    And yes, I too constantly drop things down my cleavage! And of course, my friends have taken it as some sort of amusement and now they practice their aim with my cleavage and peanuts at random pubs ¬¬.

  245. What a great thread! I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only shapeling who finds her rack o’doom a repository for food if they’re not careful at dinner.

    My boobs have recently got even bigger – I’ve gone up to a 32J – and I’m praying they don’t grow more or I won’t be able to buy more bras!

    Years ago, I went into a shop to buy bras for my E-cups and the only thing on offer was minimisers. They’re no good for me, as they push my boobs under my arms and look odd as I’m really short from shoulder to bust.

    So I approached the Saturday assistant – bored, 15, wanting to be elsewhere.

    Me: Do you have any bras in a 34E?
    Her: There are some minimisers over there…
    Me: (Outraged) Why would I want to wear a minimiser? I have MAGNIFICENT breasts!

    I would love to be able to go bra-less, but I’m in pain when I do. And I sometimes think of having a reduction done, but only because sometimes in bed my girls try and strangle me if I’m laying on my back.

  246. Oh man, Bonnie, boudiche.com is fabulous. They even have a couple sales on Marie Jo bras, which fit me perfectly but are $$$ and almost never on sale. They don’t happen to have my size in most of them at the moment, so I’ll have to remember to check back!

  247. I’m still at the stage where crumbs and such fall into my cleavage. From watching my grandma and now my mom, I know that I’m heading for the stage when I start wearing things on the RoD. In our family, it starts in late middle-age. Ah, genetics. I love catching glimpses of myself in storefront windows and realizing that I have the EXACT same build as both mom and grandma.

  248. chava ~ The key is the stretchy strappy top. It has a built-in shelf under (but attached to) the top, with a bit of fabric that compresses my chest enough to function (i.e. enough to stop the girls flapping all over the place) and ends in band of loose elastic that goes round my ribcage (under my boobs). So it’s kind of like the top tucks itself under, and what with the shelf bit and the straps I get enough lift that there isn’t any skin-to-skin. I got it in America, and it had a wee tag on it saying “with built-in support” or “built-in shelf” or something. It wasn’t expensive; I’m going to out and look for, like, 12.

    TropicalChrome — re, bras completely failing you when you bend over: high bridge! The key is a high bridge! (The bit between cups that rests against your sternum.) I had huge issues with falling out of bras til I discovered high bridges, and it’s never happened to me since. (I have about 14 other issues with bras, but that’s no longer one of them.)

  249. Also, re: food in the RoD. Possibly the most amusement I’ve ever brought the girlfriends was when we had a Chinese for dinner we found a cashew nut in my cleavage about 2 hours later. How does it happen?? I just don’t know.

  250. i fell in love with my breasts over 3 children’s worth of breastfeeding. They sag and they have stretch marks, and they have gone from a hardly there A cup to a generous C cup over the years, but they feel like they have been the subjects of devout worship for about 8 years on and off (the last child was weaned at age 3) – how could I fail to be made aware of how soft and tactile and productive they are?
    there is no way I would want anyone sinking a knife into them unless it was to save my life.

    but then again I’m crap at fashion. I prefer warm, fed and comfortable, with good and loving support for feet, breasts and morale.

  251. Breast size issues run rampant in my family. I am 45 years old and my mother still tries to buy me bras.

    I’m a 38E and she is probably no more than a 34A. The issue is that she never got over the fact that at age 13, she knew I was going to be larger than she was.

    She did her research and found that large breasted women should wear bras to bed (!) in order to prevent future sagging. She now watches all of the “are you wearing the right bra size” shows and buys me bras without my consent and without the very important try-on process.

    Of course, there are always the comments about my breasts, how they look like they need more support, etc., are you wearing the right bra, ad nauseum…

    I am finally making peace with my bresats. There is no way I would have them altered unless I had to.

  252. @ Caitlin

    LOL your cashew.
    Perhaps big busted girls have an evolutionary advantage? Being able to retrieve foodstuffs hours after a meal?

  253. Oh, lord, I will never sleep in a bra. No way.

    I rarely find things on my rack, but in it? Definitely. I’ve just gotten used to kind of joking about food falling in there…

  254. I usually sleep in a bra, a) because I am forgetful and if I remembered to take the thing off I’d probably never find it again in the morning and b) because I find it more comfortable to have the boobs somewhat under control as otherwise they end up in all sorts of strange places. Well, you know, still attatched to the middle of my chest… But up under my chin and so on.

    I have pretty much always loved my boobs, I have fond memories of a chilly exam hall and a low cut top, I finished the exam early and was able to rest my arms and bust on the desk, with my chin and neck nicely warmed by the Rack. They “came in” very very quickly, I remember being 11 and having noticeable boobs, probably about an A or B cup on a very skinny and short me, then I remember I was a 34C for a year or two at the start of secondary school (about 12/13) and then suddenly they were about a D/DD. I don’t remember ever having the “bud” thingies.

    When I had my daughter they were a 34J for a couple of weeks then settled down a bit. I breastfed for 3 and a half years and agree that it’s hard not to be pretty amazed by the ability of these two lumps of flesh to create the entire food intake of someone who can walk (she wasn’t interested in solid food until she was around 15 months). And all while looking pretty awesome, too!

  255. Anwen, I had buds around age 7 – at least that’s what my doctor said when I complained that my chest hurt when I was playing soccer. I was a B cup at age 10 and a DD a year and a half later. Oddly, I think my ribcage has gotten smaller as I’ve gotten older, because that DD was at a size 36 and I’m currently in a 32.

    Every once in a while I’ll wear a shelf bra to bed if I’m premenstrual and they girls hurt, but compared to what other women have described here, my boobs seem to be less unwieldy…

  256. TropicalChrome – whereas I want bras with no underwire but with side-boning in a 30E (I have a narrow rib-cage and am relatively tall. My chest looks moderately sized at most). – sometimes I think manufacturers can’t win. They I remember that they still fit according to a system that dates to before bras contained lycra and elasticised bands and I curse their names.

    I really, really hate those “X% of women are wearing the wrong bra size” adverts to get women to get measured and buy a new bra. Of course we’re wearing the wrong size – they don’t make the right ones! Outliers in all directions – big back, small back, small breasts, large breasts, breasts close together, breasts further apart – get screwed. Shop assistants, manufacturers, journalists should all be made to “cup size is not absolute” for hours a day until it sticks in their heads!

  257. West End Girl – What are the odds, that’s the exact same shop I get all my bras, too! Fantasie is a lifesafer and my girls aren’t happy in anything else. Obviously we should have a Shapelings social in Pearson’s bra department – with all this plugging we’re doing for them, maybe they’d give us a discount :)

  258. OMG Dolcina, that is a totally crazy coincidence! I actually think the odds are pretty miniscule, I mean, there must be 0000s of shops selling bras in the UK and probably 000s just in London!

    I’m a native of Southgate originally but spent a lot of my youth hanging round Enfield Town clearly ;-)

    I am due another visit to Pearsons actually as my Freya’s are looking, well, a little worse for wear! I could skulk around in the new makeup section looking for someone sweet enough to be called Dolcina!

    As an aside, I did find a new type of bra for large cups on Figleaves called Pretty Things and only £12 per bra and I’m sure they are similarly cheap for the US. A true miracle! And they are really supportive as well, although if you are kind of a mid back e.g. 30/32 err on the side of the larger one as they come up on the small size.

  259. Re: things falling into the Rack of Doom.

    All the fricking time.

    At the same time, though. I consider it like a Bag of Holding. I’ve gone to many a bar without a purse because I can keep my ID and $50 in my cleavage with no issues. Then there was the time I got drunk at a friend’s house and discovered that I could line up 3 or 4 shot glasses in there without breaking them.

  260. ChloeMireille,

    I do the same thing with mine! Particularly to concerts, where you’re not allowed to have cameras, I now know that I can get a big clunky camera as well as a little digital camera (I turn the flash off on them, I promise!) in there without it being noticeable. Although security might give me a brief pat-down, no way are they sticking their hand down my cleavage. Very handy.

  261. Late to the party, but have some info that may be helpful.

    I am rather teeny-chested and STOPPED wearing a bra at 16 when I realized that I had inherited a severe nylon allergy; I got welts and hives under my breasts and armpits from bras. Luckily I barely fill out a B-cup (despite my weight I never seem to put any on there), so I can get by wearing camisoles under my work blouses (Jockey for Her makes these amazing modal-blend seamless ones that, praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster, don’t give me hives).

    Having said that, one of my best friends is almost off most commercial bra cup sizes. As in just really, really BIG but with a relatively small back size. She’s big enough where she has to SLEEP in a soft sports bra.

    I turned her on to Title9 Sports a while ago. While none of the clothes fit either her or me (their “XL” drops off at about a 14, which we all know is bullshit, but stay with me for a minute), they have a phenomenal bra selection, and apparently their stuff is really comfortable.

    Having said that, back to the article at hand.

    That kind of self-hate is indeed very disheartening to see/hear, and yes, you don’t hear men going on in the same way over specific body parts, Viagra jokes aside…

  262. thegirlfrommarz, on July 3rd, 2009 at 3:24 pm Said:

    Just wondering, do any other be-Rack-of-Doomed Shapelings find that they end up spilling stuff on ‘em all the time? I have just had to interview someone, my lunchtime sandwich having handily dripped mayo on the rack. I don’t remember this happening as much when I was thinner with proportionally smaller boobs (I was a 36DD – UK sizes – and am now 38G).

    Pfft. Spilling stuff on them is amateur hour. Talk to me when you’ve managed to land the left one in an entire pie while preparing dinner. Squoosh!

    But, yeah, they catch any and all dropped foodstuffs. The Tide to Go Pen is a wonderful thing.

  263. I wish there could be some sort of conservation/protection society for breasts.

    I’ve just been speechless over this, and then I started wondering how it would look to an anthropologist from outer space, say, or from some far in the future time. Without the illusion of normalcy that comes from exposure, how would this practice look?

    Like violence. To breasts. A type of violence that hurts them not only at the time it happens,but, at least potentially, on and on. And which has the potential to turn them into a caricature of themselves, to limit their feeding function, to reduce, or, oh my god, eliminate feeling in the nipples…how the hell could that be considered an acceptable risk by ANYone? The nipple sensation thing, I mean. Anthropologists from the future will see a race of women literally trying to turn themselves into plastic.

    Hmm, interesting, though. Someone should do a paper on violence to breasts throughout the era, starting with the legends of the Amazons who would cut one off, because it interfered with their ability to shoot arrows. Continuing on to Steve-O (okay, I know, quite a big gap there) and his cohorts who decided to set a woman’s breasts on fire as a hilarious prank during one of the Jackass films. Seriously. That just about became the only viewing material I EVER censored in my home, the whole time my daughter was growing up. In the end, I didn’t censor it, because censorship goes very against the grain for me, but I did watch it with my (then approx. 12 year old) and her young male friend, and they had to contend with my running commentary (which was along the lines of “you don’t see them setting their dicks on fire, do you? Why do you think that is?”)

    And on to the present day and, um, “fashion”, and surgery, and more surgery when one changes one’s mind.

    I sympathize, I really do, for the pain that D’Souza and Posh Spice and every other woman who has chosen this has undergone. But, really? I feel like taking her by the shoulders and giving her a good shake and saying, Your Breasts are Not a Fashion Accessory, You Fucking Moron.

    They are not in this year, out the next.

    Here is something nice to look at:

    http://www.007b.com/breast_gallery.php

  264. I take back my earlier statement that in my family, I am too young to be wearing food stuffs and other things on my boobs. I wore a pretty white eyelet blouse over a tank to work today. En route to work, I ate a PB&J sandwich. Yep- red jam on the pretty white blouse, on the side of my right boob. Didn’t even see it until I took the blouse off to put on a sweatshirt. *sigh* If my boobs were more average-sized, I probably would have worn the jam on my dark denim shorts instead.

  265. I got rather carried away earlier in defense of breasts. I’m a little embarrassed now and apologize for my rudeness and over-vehemence if it offended anyone :)

  266. That’s okay, mara. I admit my first impulse was to get a little defensive, because, well, the risk of loss of sensation actually was acceptable to me to be able to actually buy bras in stores, and not to be in pretty much constant pain from having such large, heavy breasts. It was a quality of life issue in my case, at least, and I would have taken a lot of risks to be able to lie on my back and still breathe, you know?

    But, then, I realized that the thing that’s right for me is not the thing that’s right for everyone, and you have every right to be horrified about the risks of breast surgery. They are pretty heavy risks for someone whose life isn’t really hampered by their breast size. For something that really is completely cosmetic, they are pretty out there.

    It’s just, you know, even if you do have every right to say “Oh, hell no, I would never do that!” other people have the right to decide “sign me up!” because ultimately, it’s their body. Even if they want to do something you think is insane.

    But, really, we’re cool. I get where you’re coming from.

  267. I love that so many Shapelings are as klutzy as me when it comes to spilling things on the RoD – I am not alone!

    I was thinking about this yesterday and I don’t think I drop any less food on myself than I did when I had smaller boobs – I just think it’s more noticeable on the rack than on your lap (plus if it drops on your lap, there’s a chance it’ll land on a napkin).

  268. Right, emmy. It’s terrible the pressures people feel and how that can motivate them to take measures that are potentially harmful. And yet women who choose to surgically alter their breasts are making their own choices about their own bodies. That’s a little different from being victims of violent assaults, like having their breasts set on fire, good god.

  269. The obsession that women are taught to have with regards to the appearance and shape of their bodies is destructive to women’s self-confidence. You only have to go into a women’s gym change room or a public bath in Japan (or anywhere else!) to see that most fashion labels DO NOT cater appropriately for the vast array of body shapes and sizes around. I am very small everywhere (including boobs) and am constantly griping about how hard it is to find clothes to fit in the shops. I am especially embarrassed when blouses do up around my chest but are too tight around my waist and upper arms. I try to tell myself, ‘don’t be ashamed…no reason to be ashamed…don’t hate your body’. My sister, who from my perspective has a much more ‘normal’ size body also has a lot of trouble because she has big hips and a narrow upper body. There is no such thing as ‘normal’ though, and women (including me) just need to keep reminding themselves of that. I guess we should all be grateful for what we’ve got – at least I have four limbs and five senses.

  270. Catrina–

    You know, I’ve never tried to put a camera in there. I’m totally going to try this at the next concert I go to.

    Mara–

    I know you took back that post up there, but this line…

    Your Breasts are Not a Fashion Accessory, You Fucking Moron. They are not in this year, out the next.

    …was gold. My imagination has built an entire scene from AbFab around it, and Saffron gets to say it….minus the word “fuck”. You know, because it’s Saffy.

  271. Oh, but Saffy had her moments. I can imagine her completely snapping at, say, Patsy and dropping a few f-bombs.

  272. I guess we should all be grateful for what we’ve got – at least I have four limbs and five senses.

    Emma, I get what you’re saying in terms of being grateful for what you’ve got—but the second half of this sentence is pretty ableist. If you had fewer limbs or fewer senses, you’d still be a whole person capable of beauty and joy and self-worth.

  273. About nipple coverage, I used to put a bandaid over them. I had very small breasts and very prominent nipples. Very prominent. Imagine a raspberry on top of the fried egg. I used to push them in a little before I put on the bandaid and that gave me the anonymous silhouette I was looking for. And this may be TMI, but I had to pluck the hair from around the aureole so it wouldn’t pull when I removed them. Anyway, it was very inexpensive compared to specialty products and it stopped the “Boy it must be cold! Har Har” jokes. ISorry this is so late but I was away this weekend.

  274. I’m just catching up with my SP, but SM, this is so upsetting. I had a recent experience with a costume designer who asked for my bra size and I responded, “42H.” She said, “42H?! That’s ridiculous, that doesn’t even exist!” I said, “Well, I certainly hope it does, because that’s what my bra tag says.” I wanted to strangle her through the phone.

    And my posture is just FINE.

    Harrumph.

  275. so true! i just wanted to let you know, i linked to a post of your on my blog. i just stumbled across it today, and i love it. being a large bosomed gal, i always have trouble inding good underwear and swimwear. and not to mention all the boys who try to feel them when they’ve had one too many! how rude is that?

  276. Dude, I’ve been a 40B (B+, maybe ;D) for a long time and aside from the fact that my underbust is apparently too huge for anyone under a DD, I think my breasts look FINE. Twelve year old? I feel really bad for this woman.

  277. Coming back to this old thread because I feel it is necessary for me to apologize for comments I made upthread about the term transvestite and gender performance. They were made in good intentions and out of ignorance, but were still problematic and inappropriate and possibly offensive (really not at all my place to be saying anything).
    I was unaware of the complex history of the term transvestite (including being used in problematic psychiatric distinctions among trans* people), and many layers of complexity to the “gender-performance” issue that make what I said not just inappropriate but wrong.

    So I just want to say: I fucked up. I’m sorry. I’m working on it.

    (anyone else who feels a similar need for self-education I suggest reading Whipping Girl by Julia Serano)

Comments are closed.