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Living With Breasts That Can Be Seen From Orbit
May 26, 2011 5:10 PM   Subscribe

I was the first girl I knew to get breasts. I remember being in sixth grade and this horrible girl named Erica coming up to me before social studies and saying, “You don't have to stick out your chest like that,” and I almost cried. (I cried very easily as a child, and by “as a child” I mean “up until this morning.”) Because I wasn't actually sticking my chest out at all, it was just like that.
posted by roger ackroyd (83 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
hrrm, I probably should have put that quote in quotation marks. anyway: read the whole article, it's good.
posted by roger ackroyd at 5:12 PM on May 26, 2011


is it breast reduction month on mefi or something?
posted by nathancaswell at 5:17 PM on May 26, 2011


Oh hun, if you think wearing real bras before your out of middle school is something, try by the summer after 5th grade.

I long ago graduated from "With underwire" to "with structural support".
posted by strixus at 5:22 PM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wore bras starting in fourth grade. And it's because they were necessary.

(I did not grow to mammoth proportions, but it is VERY awkward to be the front of the bell curve in physical development.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:24 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


♪♫ Oh, let's all meet up in the Year 2000… ♫♪
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:26 PM on May 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


Martin said that yours were the best.
posted by justkevin at 5:27 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


@strixus Yes, I too miss the days when a standard underwire would cut it, but I comfort myself with the thought that I can probably MacGyver all kinds of awesome solutions to weird emergency situations using my bra. They're definitely a feat of sartorial engineering.
posted by smirkette at 5:29 PM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


36J? Tits and get the fuck out!

My boobs aren't that huge, but they are a weird size, and I can totally sympathize on the bra-buying front.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:29 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wore bras starting in fourth grade. And it's because they were necessary.

I was 90 lbs in 3rd grade. I wish someone had gotten me a bra.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:31 PM on May 26, 2011


I was mocked in seventh grade for wearing training bras still and being flat chested, but I was okay with it, seeing my more endowed peers being harassed. I remember some girls being harassed during gym when we ran up and down the bleachers because the boys would stop and watch them going up and down the stairs. Very creepy.
posted by stef0knee at 5:40 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I did not grow to mammoth proportions, but it is VERY awkward to be the front of the bell curve in physical development.)

This is sure the truth, and it's a hard thing to get over, too. I've been 5'5" (and worn an underwire bra) since the sixth grade, and it took me until I was about 27 years old to realize that I am not, in fact, enormous. It was only this year - I'm 34 - that I understood my breasts are actually on the smaller side of average. Those formative years really are tough on the psyche if you are in any way different.
posted by something something at 5:43 PM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I REALLY LOVED this opinion piece, largely because she doesn't objectify her own breasts and then blame them for her troubles. A lot of lines reflect a very healthy self-image: she has big breasts, she likes them, and doesn't think she should have surgery because some (jealous) people think she's not normal.

Some really great quotes that I enjoyed:

Interestingly, many of the people I've dated or hooked up with have gone out of their way to emphasize that my breasts are not what attracted them to me. Because that would just be too mainstream, I guess.
(me: I liked this one for the inevitable boyzone merit badgers in this thread, declaring in this thread how very unattracted they are to bodies at all, preferring to date only beings of pure light)


At the same time, the idea of “fixing” my body didn't sit right with me. Something in my burgeoning feminist consciousness hated the idea that my shape was flawed and needed adjusting.


“Can we please stop talking about fixing me?” I raged. “The dress doesn't fit! That's not my fault! Can we fix the dress, please, and stop talking about how I need major surgery in order to fit into clothes?”


But mostly, I've realized that my breasts are a huge (I'm sorry) part of my self-image. And in some mildly perverse way, I actually like them. [...] As a queer, femme, tattooed fat chick with titties for days, I'm kind of unmissable, and if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that I really dig that.


Do what makes you happy. Take whatever steps are necessary [...] And I hope you can approach it from a place of self-love, whether that means loving your giant breasts or loving your post-surgery scars. I also want you to get a bra fitting. If your bra straps are leaving red, tender marks, it's not a sign that you need a breast reduction, it's a sign that you're wearing the wrong size bra.


No matter how big your boobs are (or your ass, or your shoulders, or your whatever other part of you), you'll feel so much better if you wear clothes that fit. [...] Nobody cares if you have to wear two different sizes on top and on the bottom — you're the only one who knows the number on the tag anyway.


And wear clothes that you like! We've all read dozens if not millions of articles on “how to dress for your figure,” and they all insist that there are Certain Rules you must follow to hide whatever giant, hideous flaws you have [...] The hell with all of that. [...] Don't bother dressing to create an optical illusion that your body is shaped differently than it is. It won't work, and it's boring. Do you.


Finally, I want you to be gentle with yourself. Self-acceptance, to say nothing of whole-hearted self-love, takes a really fucking long time, and requires letting go of some deeply ingrained cultural nonsense. If you're not a perfect ball of healing light and nonjudgmentalness by this time next week, it's no big deal. Just keep on telling yourself that you're rad the way you are, and maybe at some point you'll start to believe it. Also, seriously, your boobs look so great in that top. You don't even know.
I know it's completely irrelevant what I think because I'm a heterosexual man (who, yes, loves big boobs) but seriously this woman totally rocks!
posted by hincandenza at 5:44 PM on May 26, 2011 [19 favorites]


Loved: When I finally went to a real lingerie store and got a fitting, I discovered that my band size hadn't actually changed since I was 15 or so, but I needed to be wearing an H cup. (My skinny best friend: “Are you saying they make the entire alphabet?”)
posted by kate blank at 5:47 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never tried to hide my love of breasts. While it's not the only physical feature I look at, I'm definitely more attracted to big breasted women. Why is that a bad thing?
posted by reenum at 5:48 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


nathancaswell: is it breast reduction month on mefi or something?

RTFA.
posted by headnsouth at 5:48 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Loved this and could relate to so, so much of it!
posted by SisterHavana at 5:49 PM on May 26, 2011


The part about David's Bridal dresses is so true. (Well, I didn't have the annoying salesperson) I bought a couple bridesmaid dresses there. In both cases I had to get the largest size they made (which was several sizes larger than the size I normally wear) and still had to get the bust majorly let out. It was ridiculous!

The other thing I never understood - if large breasts are supposed to be so wonderful, why on earth are most larger size bras so hideously ugly?
posted by SisterHavana at 5:55 PM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


... because you're not shopping at Fig Leaves?
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:57 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. I was the last boy I knew to get breasts.
posted by Decani at 6:01 PM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a great bookend for the other recent (and interesting) article. The two authors have made different choices, but they both make a good case and both seem to be pleased with the results while recognizing there are some problems they'll just live with.

I like this one a bit better, if for no other reason than I like to believe that surgery shouldn't have to be the gateway through which one passes in order to be more satisfied with their life. But for those who find it so, I suppose it's a blessing that it's available and I don't begrudge them their happiness with the results.
posted by weston at 6:01 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not breast reduction month, it's big boob month.
Which you know, lets just see where this goes.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 6:04 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was a well written piece. Thanks for sharing it.

I was an H cup when I was trying to nurse. Normally, I'm not that big, but I can totally empathize. I was in 4th grade when the underwire was introduced as a necessary part of the rest of my life. You have no idea how humiliating it is to be standing in the lunch line at the school cafeteria and discover you're the new game for the boys who would keep score of who could shoot something across the room and down your cleavage. Like her, I've contemplated reductions and decided against it. My cleavage is here to stay and I will cover it (or not) as I so choose.
posted by onhazier at 6:04 PM on May 26, 2011


Here's a link to that earlier article, for anyone who missed it. Like me.
posted by roger ackroyd at 6:06 PM on May 26, 2011


because the fitter is going to full-on feel you up and show you how your breasts should be arranged in your bra (mine called this move “The Boob Scoop”), but she'll be super cool about it and you'll probably feel way less weird than you expect it to.
Unless you shop at Mr. Bra!
posted by delmoi at 6:06 PM on May 26, 2011


My mind is still spinning at the idea of a gymnast with breasts (let alone large ones).
titties for days
Nice. "I just finished knitting an adorable bolero with gorgeous yarn, and now I don't even want to wear the damn thing because it looks horrible on a girl with titties for days." True story from a G-cup.
posted by and miles to go before I sleep at 6:08 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm glad she doesn't suffer as many of the physical side-effects as most of the other large-breasted women I've known, but she seems to be generalizing her experience a bit too much, especially if she thinks that all the physical side-effects of huge boobs can be solved with a good bra fitting. The line about "find a different kind of excercise" also grates.
posted by sinnaith at 6:10 PM on May 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Honestly, my big boobs are probably half the size of hers, and I agree with her on the jogging (and particularly jogbra) thing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:18 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I started wearing a bra in the 3rd grade and I was wearing a 32G bra up until my breast reduction back in September. I'm small framed and petite so my already enormous boobs looked even bigger on my frame. Even though it was painful and cost a lot of money, it was hands down the best money I have ever spent on myself and my life has completely changed for the better. I can't even really put it into words how much the surgery positively impacted my life.

I was late to the prior breast reduction thread so I didn't comment, but fuck anyone who is going to judge a woman for getting a breast reduction. I didn't do it for the back pain (mine wasn't that bad yet but down the road it would have been), I did it for all the other reasons which I think have pretty much been covered in the article and the prior breast reduction thread. This is my favorite line from the article:

Large breasts can cause a lot of pain, and physical pain is not the only kind that counts.

posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:19 PM on May 26, 2011 [20 favorites]


While it's not the only physical feature I look at, I'm definitely more attracted to big breasted women. Why is that a bad thing?

No one is saying that's a bad thing. These are the bad things (from the article):

-"I've endured some truly appalling pickup lines. I've had guys ask “Are those real?” before asking my name." And I'll personally add the line of "what are their names" after staring at my chest with an open mouth for about 5 minutes and me angrily asking if he had a problem.

-"I've been followed down the street by scary men making extremely graphic comments." In a bad week, graphic comments from men would be an almost daily occurance.

-"And I've been groped, a lot, mostly by people who think feeling me up is hilarious and “ironic” and not at all invasive or abusive." Sad to say that I'm a card carrying member of that club.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:29 PM on May 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


Given the emphasis on "bigger is better," everywhere and in everything, the truth of the burden (and I do mean that literally) of larger than average breasts is contradictory, like everything in our misbegotten culture. We hear that bigger is better, but if it's you it's not. Not necessarily, anyway.

They are attention-getters, that's for sure. But I heard the glass ceiling in corporate America has a special limit for anyone over a B. Can't take them (us) seriously. Okay for billboard, not boardroom. So distracting!
posted by emhutchinson at 6:36 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


(me: I liked this one for the inevitable boyzone merit badgers in this thread, declaring in this thread how very unattracted they are to bodies at all, preferring to date only beings of pure light)

I don't understand this sentence. What does this mean?
posted by John Cohen at 6:36 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I've been groped, a lot, mostly by people who think feeling me up is hilarious and “ironic” and not at all invasive or abusive.

What the fucking shit.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:36 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


And, on another note, or letter, Bravissimo's alphabet goes all the way to KK.
posted by emhutchinson at 6:38 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I've been groped, a lot, mostly by people who think feeling me up is hilarious and “ironic” and not at all invasive or abusive.

What the fucking shit.


The men that do that to women tend to pray on the more submissive ones. I noticed that once I developed my "if you touch me I'll punch you in the fucking dick" attitude and permanent glare, these occurances were much, much less.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:40 PM on May 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


Unless you shop at Mr. Bra!

What's wrong with Mr. Bra? I'm learning lots.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2011


I think girls are in something of a peer pinch when it comes to puberty: before everyone else is bad, after everyone else is bad, and the only "safe" place is in the middle of the pack. With boys, the concept of early barely applies; it's all about the faster, the better.

My first girlfriend, who had hit puberty like Mike Tyson when she was eight, finishing two years later, said that she could deal with the attention from boys and that the ability to walk into a liquor store without being hassled (I saw her fifth grade pictures, good grief) was a temptation, but the biggest social pressure came from the other girls and their jealousy. Is that common for girls who launch perhaps a trifle earlier than anticipated?
posted by adipocere at 6:46 PM on May 26, 2011


Side note: What the fuck is up with people who feel totally comfortable walking up to complete strangers and commenting on their bodies? Seriously.

One of my friends is 6'2" and people feel totally comfortable sidling up to her and saying "You're tall!" out of nowhere, like that's just a perfectly normal thing to do. All. The. Time. That, or without so much as a hi, they just come up and blurt "Do you play basketball?" (To which she sometimes replies, "No, are you a jockey?" Har.)

Another one of my friends is 5'10" and maybe 115 lbs. soaking wet. She's perfectly healthy, and she eats like a mofo. It's just how she's built; her mom is the same way. This means she's often treated to people having pointed conversations about anorexia in front of her, declaiming how it's just so sad, or more often, how it totally disgusts them.

Stoppit, people of the world. It sucks.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:50 PM on May 26, 2011 [20 favorites]


I have often wished that dudes who gush about OMG BOOBS so awesome! had to wear a large, unwieldy pair for a few months. Try toting those babies around, running anywhere, finding clothes that fit, and dealing with staring. Try paying 50.00 for one (one!) good bra. And of course you need several. Which all have to be hand-washed, unless you want to see your 50.00 investment get shredded.

I don't have as much to deal with as this lady, and I still want to be able to just take the damn things off now and then and sleep on my stomach w/out it being a major exercise in planning.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 PM on May 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


My daughter, who just turned 10, also recently joined the B.R.A. About a month ago, my wife took her to the nearby Lady Grace store, where a very nice saleswoman went through the whole fitting process with her, explaining everything as she went along, and helped her pick out half a dozen training bras. My daughter came home very excited about her purchases, could not wait to model each one, and decided that wearing bras is just about the coolest thing a girl can do.

While she's not the only girl in her class getting her breasts, she is definitely one of the front-runners. It doesn't seem to register with the 4th grade boys at all so far, and she doesn't report any of the other girls being mean or snotty or jealous, so I am cautiously optimistic for the time being. I am greatly pleased that her introduction to the Wonderful World of Ladies Undergarments went so well and that she doesn't seem to have any negative feeling about her developing body. It's too soon to know if she will end up with large breasts, but I doubt we could have had a better launch into puberty.
posted by briank at 7:01 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


This means she's often treated to people having pointed conversations about anorexia in front of her

It's shocking to me the way a lot of people fly into rages at the sight of a slender person nowadays and will fucking shoot you if you try to point out to them that it used to be normal.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:09 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


This means she's often treated to people having pointed conversations about anorexia in front of her

It's shocking to me the way a lot of people fly into rages at the sight of a slender person nowadays and will fucking shoot you if you try to point out to them that it used to be normal.


The phrase I hate the most is "real women have curves."
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:12 PM on May 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


“Can we please stop talking about fixing me?” I raged. “The dress doesn't fit! That's not my fault! Can we fix the dress, please, and stop talking about how I need major surgery in order to fit into clothes?”

I'm not sure what it was about this in particular, because the rest of the article is compelling too, but this made me feel a huge burst of sympathy. That must be terrible.

Also, I can't imagine the sheer volume of comments she must have to deal with. I'm a 38B and have been blindsided by occasional comments about how large my breasts are, and every time it happens I think, what? -- usually too baffled by their definition of "large" to even react to the rudeness -- and then, dear god, how often do women with larger breasts hear this stuff? Comments from strangers put me on edge as it is; it must get so old to deal with gawking comments from men and women on top of everything else.
posted by Nattie at 7:13 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just as a point of information, it's my understanding that a 38B will have a larger cup size than, say, a 32B.
posted by aniola at 7:26 PM on May 26, 2011


but the biggest social pressure came from the other girls and their jealousy. Is that common for girls who launch perhaps a trifle earlier than anticipated?
posted by adipocere


oh, it's common. I wore my first bra in grade 5, and was teased so horribly by the other girls that I didn't dare wear another until grade 7. Sometimes I wonder if my stretch marks and lack of natural support is due to not wearing a bra for over a year. But it was all girls - the boys didn't notice/care, certainly not then. They hadn't hit puberty, and still thought we all had cooties.

but then, women and girls are usually the scary ones when it comes to a female's appearance. I shave when women will see my legs; my husband gets to enjoy long, black leghair. (He actually doesn't care as long as it's not scratchy stubble).
posted by jb at 7:30 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was the first one to develop in my class, and I remember more than one girl decided that I was stuffing my bra and tries to prove it by clawing at my (still growing and really really tender) breasts. It didn't occur to me exactly how fucked up that was until a few years ago.

I'm a DD now-large, but not as large as her. But oh my god finding a selection of sports bras that fit was a revelation like none other. Holy shit they actually stay in place. I swear, I just spent about five minutes jumping up and down after I put on the bounceless bra for the first time-thank you, Title Nine!
posted by dinty_moore at 8:09 PM on May 26, 2011


One of my friends is 6'2" and people feel totally comfortable sidling up to her and saying "You're tall!" out of nowhere, like that's just a perfectly normal thing to do. All. The. Time. That, or without so much as a hi, they just come up and blurt "Do you play basketball?" (To which she sometimes replies, "No, are you a jockey?" Har.)

This happens to me too. I'm 6'4". My response, if i'm feeling mean, is "No, are you a sumo wrestler?"
posted by hot_monster at 8:12 PM on May 26, 2011


[Several comments removed. If your contribution is some variation on "pics plz", Fark is down the street a ways.]
posted by cortex at 8:14 PM on May 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


What's wrong with Mr. Bra? I'm learning lots.
Well, for one thing I wanted to correct the assumption that the person fitting you would be a 'she'. Secondly, I dunno I just found the video so odd. I mean this middle aged old dude going on in detail about boobs and bras is pretty entertaining. I thought it had been an FPP or something before, but I didn't see it anywhere.
The men that do that to women tend to pray on the more submissive ones. I noticed that once I developed my "if you touch me I'll punch you in the fucking dick" attitude and permanent glare, these occurances were much, much less.
Did you get it much from other women like the author in the story?
posted by delmoi at 8:28 PM on May 26, 2011


Side note: What the fuck is up with people who feel totally comfortable walking up to complete strangers and commenting on their bodies? Seriously.

There's a certain human tendency to want to talk about what's on your mind and share experiences with people. There's sometimes a problem here when some salient but personal feature is the experience you're processing.

So, you meet someone who's unusually tall or thin or stacked or whatever, and you're at least temporarily lit up by that fact the same way you might be if you walked into a room that had an unusual amount of the decor done in the same color (say, mostly lime green or mostly orange). The standout nature of the experience is currently hijacking your train of thought. Then you open your mouth...

It's a double problem for people who aren't quick to reorient themselves on likely perspective of the person who the feature belongs to and the fact that it isn't new to them, it is them, and people's reactions to it are old hat and potentially annoying, and that, yes, thank you, they'd like to be thought of (and engaged) more holistically.

I think at the mild end of the spectrum, it's probably best to cut people some slack and use a small measure of wit and grace to help the reorientation along... which I think most people will do, given a chance and a prompt (though there's always the few, clueless, proud, and entitled).
posted by weston at 8:32 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you want to see someone freakishly good at their job, walk into one of those lingerie shops that have been around forever. The old ladies that work there can take one look at you, mumble a bra size that you never knew existed, and you walk out happy. It practically borders on witchcraft.
posted by dr_dank at 8:32 PM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I really ought to stop reading articles about large breasts--I'm really sick of the internet telling me to get a bra fitting.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:40 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had an IT manager once who apparently had large breasts. I find it a point of honor that I had to have it pointed out to me after she had been working for me for two years. Someone asked me about it being involved in my hiring decision, and in my subsequent vigorous defense of her in an office dispute, and I was rather surprised. I honestly hadn't noticed.

I was the VP of a manufacturing company. The office manager wanted my IT manager fired. I made well over 6 figures. I said, fire her and I go. I make my own decisions as to who works for me and unless there's cause, she stays. Immediately, I am suspected of having an affair with her.

Goddamned zoo! All because of breasts that I didn't even notice. Jeez.

Personally, I think this is a new phenom, related to endocrine disrupting persistent chemicals in the environment. Early puberty is much more common, as is obesity. Both are involved in breast size. The costs to the individual seem large, and I wish there were a more benign way to achieve reduction. The entire nipple has to be removed in reductive mammoplasty so that it can be reattached in the 'right' place. First (deceased) wife had it done to her breasts for shaping purposes, and I tried like hell to discourage her. Nipple sensation went to damn near zero, and it's important, apparently. Of course, I also tried to talk her out of implants, unsuccessfully. Body image problems are just horrible.

I love women/femininity, but damn, I hate mods.

It's not what they look like, it's who they belong to that counts to me.

Good article, though. Emotionally informative.
posted by FauxScot at 8:42 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Side note: What the fuck is up with people who feel totally comfortable walking up to complete strangers and commenting on their bodies? Seriously.

Once upon a time I was 6'4" and 175, soaking wet, and people used to constantly ask me "Are you anorexic?" To which I'd reply, "No. Are you fat because you have a gland issue?"

So yeah, to hell with people and their lack of a brain/mouth filter on body issues, but then again, I don't have a lot of friends from back in those days when I didn't have one either.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:55 PM on May 26, 2011


but the biggest social pressure came from the other girls and their jealousy. Is that common for girls who launch perhaps a trifle earlier than anticipated?
posted by adipocere


When I was in grad school (where the women were in their 20's), there was a woman who was Asian, but also had very large breasts. By our third year, other women in the program referred to her as CT (Circus Tits).

I never saw her being unpleasant or catty to anyone. All the other women just ended up turning on her.
posted by reenum at 9:27 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know it's more difficult to have larger-than-average breasts, but I think The Hairpin does need to publish a companion piece about the humiliation of having small breasts. Then male MeFi contributors can say defensive things like, "I'm more attracted to women with small breasts. What's wrong with that?" so that women on both sides of the spectrum can feel validated.

Thanks, male gaze! You light up my life.

Love,
32B
posted by pineappleheart at 9:40 PM on May 26, 2011 [40 favorites]


Side note: What the fuck is up with people who feel totally comfortable walking up to complete strangers and commenting on their bodies? Seriously.

Douglas Adams has an answer for this one:

One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or 'Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright?' At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

When I started wearing a bra at 14 it was the girls at school who pointed it out to me. One girl decided that the appropriate way to confirm I was wearing one was to run her finger down my sternum. Charming!

As a larger-breasted woman I thought I was consigned to plain ugly bras for life but my discovery of bravissimo has put an end to that :)
posted by prettypretty at 9:45 PM on May 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


The entire nipple has to be removed in reductive mammoplasty so that it can be reattached in the 'right' place.

This procedure is called a full nipple graft and FNGs are actually not the most common technique in breast reductions. My nipples remained intact during surgery and I have more sensation in my nipples now than before I had surgery.

Did you get it much from other women like the author in the story?

I don't recall a woman ever feeling me up but I was on the receiving end of some catty comments. A lot of women would question their authenticity including an ex's best friend's wife who worked in the bra fitting department of a store at the time. Also almost every single male friend's girlfriend hated me without ever getting to know me but all of these things didn't really bother me too much.

I think the thing I received most from women was them telling me that I was lucky and that they wished they had breasts like mine. I know that that stemmed from the grass is always greener on the other side mindset, but I'm on the other side now it the grass IS greener. It's not that I hated my breasts, I actually quite liked them most of the time, but not having to deal with the laundry list of shit that I had to endure on a nearly daily basis is priceless. If I knew then how I would feel now and someone told me the surgery would cost 50K, I would find a way to fund it because it really has changed my life.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:45 PM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Love this article, but disagree that about running bras.

I'm a 34DD and I'm here to tell you that Freya makes a fantastic underwire running bra. I'm running along and the girls are locked and loaded in my Freya. In fact, I wear my underwire running bra under my wetsuit during triathlons. There's no way to get my Freya on after the swim and there is NO WAY I'm going for a run without that bra.

For every big boobed girl who thought that running was out of the question, I'm here to say running is definitely possible.
posted by 26.2 at 9:48 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've found that nothing helps my breast-related self-image quite so much as sleeping with women. If you're not queer, sorry about that, but for the girl-on-girl crowd: When was the last time you thought “Wow, I wish her breasts were smaller/bigger/perkier/farther apart/a different shape”? Probably never. Probably you usually think something along the lines of “Hell yes, naked girl!” Seeing other women's bodies in a context where you're enjoying, not critiquing, can help you reframe your relationship with your own body in the same way.

I was really kind of inspired and touched by this. Guys say this sort of stuff all the time, but it doesn't carry nearly the same weight.
posted by you're a kitty! at 10:16 PM on May 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm another one who magically sprouted boobs around third or fourth grade. The only person who ever teased me was my mom, who would do crazy shit like run up behind me while I was doing the dishes and go, "Are you a turtle? Then why are you snapping?". Then she'd snap the hell out of my bra strap and run off.

A lot of things fell into place later when I found out Mom gets high.
posted by palomar at 10:32 PM on May 26, 2011 [27 favorites]


One of my friends is 6'2" and people feel totally comfortable sidling up to her and saying "You're tall!" out of nowhere, like that's just a perfectly normal thing to do.

It's more tactful than saying, "You need to lose height."
posted by squalor at 11:32 PM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I started developing full size womanly breasts at the age of 10. Jeanette Clem used to knuckle punch them every chance she had, which was like every day in 4th grade. I can't begin to understand her motivation.

My best friend was a boy a year younger than me and his male buddies started taunting him of having a girlfriend because I was so precociously stacked. To prove to his pals that I wasn't his girlfriend, he beat me up in front of a group of boys, saving his most savage blows for my breasts.

Grown men would drive by in cars and yell shit like, "You got big ones!" At a 10 year old! GRAR

I hated my breasts for a long time, but in my second year of high school I dropped acid and made my peace with my tits and stopped wearing a bra to try and tame them.

They are still big and I still won't wear a bra. No shoulder or back pain or sweating grooves in the skin under the band. Not too droopy considering. I like 'em just fine now. They make a great spot to cuddle a head or a cat.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:02 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I developed breasts at age 10, in the fourth grade. It didn't help that I was quite awkward-looking from that age until about age 13... chubby with acne, glasses, a bad home perm (thanks grandma!) and a pair of full-grown breasts.

The boys in my class were attracted and repulsed at the same time, so it was not unusual to have a guy flirt with me one minute and then next minute loudly say something shitty about my looks lest anyone get the mistaken impression that he actually liked me.

The girls were pretty awful about it as well. Once when I did have a boy who was nice to me and flirted with me on the bus for many days in a row, my supposedly best friend became jealous and loudly declared in front of everyone "Tony only likes you because you have big ones!" And that, of course, was the end of Tony.

There was one evil, flat-chested, boyish bitch in my class who was obsessed with my chest, constantly hurling insults and minor physical violence in my direction. She once ground an iceball in my face at the skating pond, apparently just because I had the audacity to show up. I never did a single thing to her that I can recall, my boobs apparently just made her insane with rage.

I slunk around miserably with my arms crossed over my chest for three years, until one fateful day at the pool when I met a slightly older friend of my cousin. She was tanned, fairly well-endowed and wearing a bathing suit that pushed her breasts together into glorious cleavage, and she wore a little sparkly gold necklace that just drew the eye right down to where the cleavage started. I couldn't stop staring at her chest, and I remember thinking with amazement, "wow... breasts are actually pretty!"

That day I went home and lowered the necklines of all my shirts in such a clumsy and embarrassing fashion that my mom actually took me out and bought me some low-cut shirts that weren't quite as extreme and obvious. From that day on I was completely in love with my breasts.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:27 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a member of the tiny-framed-large-cup brigade--and more or less of the same size that I was at 12--I can swear that finding the correctly sized bra only recently has made my life SO MUCH BETTER. Measured against my old size, I've lost six inches and gained two cup sizes, and my shirts finally fit. My fitter--not an old lady with sharp eyes, but a hip 30-something whose own fitting so changed her life that she started her own business--reassured me that I am not a freak because of my size. I am not full-figured Woman material; almost all stores, she said, max out at 32DD by choice, and that didn't make me insane for swearing that none of these damned bras fit me. Putting on the right size at last? Oh my God, is *that* what "lift and separate" is supposed to mean? Is it remotely possible that my back and shoulders don't have to carry all that weight? That my post-nursing boobs might actually have a shape? Having a few good (though expensive!) bras that do the job bras are supposed to do has made me feel so much better about my breasts, because I now know that I'm not built wrong, or freakishly, or embarrassingly, but that American stores and American boob mythology (down with 36C and self-measuring!) get it wrong, and that these acts of getting it wrong compel women into a great deal of completely unnecessary frustration, discomfort, and self-doubt.

To my dear small daughter: If you should, in a few years, get the big breasts that I did, I swear that I will take you for a proper fitting so you can feel good about yourself and your body. And no bra jokes. Love, Mama
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:21 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Emotionally informative.

That was my reaction, too.

"I've found that nothing helps my breast-related self-image quite so much as sleeping with women..."

I was really kind of inspired and touched by this. Guys say this sort of stuff all the time, but it doesn't carry nearly the same weight.


There are two guys I work with who seem to be pathologically impelled to comment on women's appearances. If I have to drive somewhere with them, it's a non-stop litany of "wow, check her out! Do those legs go all the way up? Hey, that one has nice hair. etc" for the entire time. Seriously, it's like a form of Tourette's, where they supply this unedited commentary direct from brain to mouth. Other than it being really repellent to have to listen to, the interesting thing is that I've never heard them say a bad thing about a woman's breasts, or pretty much any other part -- they always find something to enjoy.

So if there is a redeeming feature to the male gaze, the author has found it here (and managed to be a lot less repellent about it, too):

Seeing other women's bodies in a context where you're enjoying, not critiquing, can help you reframe your relationship with your own body in the same way.
posted by Forktine at 5:52 AM on May 27, 2011


It's shocking to me the way a lot of people fly into rages at the sight of a slender person nowadays and will fucking shoot you if you try to point out to them that it used to be normal.

The phrase I hate the most is "real women have curves."


Life is harder for fat women than skinny women, so when I get hammered with that asinine line in a straight-out, girl-on-girl act of social aggression, I've always been able to restrain myself from saying, "I've got plenty of curves, honey--I just don't have folds."

My mother never stopped "joking" about my "small" breasts, but were I 20 pounds overweight as she is, we'd be the same size.
posted by availablelight at 6:44 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


My best friend was a boy a year younger than me and his male buddies started taunting him of having a girlfriend because I was so precociously stacked. To prove to his pals that I wasn't his girlfriend, he beat me up in front of a group of boys, saving his most savage blows for my breasts.

What now? Golly. I don't even know what to say to that except for *hugs*.
posted by jaduncan at 6:48 AM on May 27, 2011


As a queer, femme, tattooed fat chick with titties for days, I'm kind of unmissable, and if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that I really dig that.

I love this woman! She sounds like a hoot.
posted by jillithd at 6:57 AM on May 27, 2011


I remember the 1st girl at my school who got boobs..she was totally ostracized for it and rumors went around that they were fake because well, she was a doctor's daughter and they could afford to do something crazy like that (we were 11, for pete's sake!). I often think about her and wonder how things turned out for her, I always did feel bad for her that people treated her so poorly (I was on the opposite end of the spectrum, skinny as a rail and so I could somewhat relate to the physical appearance harassment bit).
posted by sugarbiscuit at 8:28 AM on May 27, 2011


I almost broke down and cried reading this article. I wish I had the same paths to self-appreciation at my fingertips, but living with outlandishly large breasts on a relatively small frame in France has been a three-year nightmare. The (cute) bras top out at like 36B, and the men here have never seen boobs before in their whole lives, so they stare and bark like animals, and my only possible response is an anger that grows every day and gnaws at me from the inside. Sassy responses that express a fraction of the violence I feel toward them only seem to add fuel to the fire; women in France have used sex as a social tool for so long that any attempt to buck this role and become a human being is perceived, pervertedly, as a sexual come-on. I sometimes cry myself to sleep nostalgic for the kind of "catcalls" I was subjected to in San Francisco, like the day I was wearing an uncharacteristically low dress (the sort my mother would so charitably call "boobish") and couldn't stop adjusting it for the discomfort of showing off too much, when a passerby said gently, and with no apparent sexual intentions, "don't worry, it's fine."

(By the by, my eternal thanks to prettypretty for the link to bravissimo!)
posted by Mooseli at 8:39 AM on May 27, 2011


Is there some good evolutionary reason why women should have breasts that are large enough to cause them back trouble? I mean, it's not like bigger breasts produce more milk.

Or is this one of these things where evolution just hasn't caught up to the fact that we used to swing around in trees? Still, you don't see chimpanzees with giant racks.

The only thing I can think of is that there's some sort of sexual selection involved. In which case I apologize on behalf of all men. (Unfortunately I don't think "all men" have actually authorized me to speak for them.)
posted by madcaptenor at 9:53 AM on May 27, 2011


I have a t-shirt with a big arrow on it pointing up, and the legend "My face is up here." I'm a 32G. It's interesting the responses I get in it. A lot of people will grin, and you'll see the odd embarassed looking dude.

Mine are still going, though. I've had back pain since I was a teenager, and I'm sorry, but there is no sport I can manage that doesn't have them rolling around like a pair of enthusiastic pugs. I swam for a while, but then I went up a few cup sizes and now I can't find a swimsuit that is supportive enough when wet.

madcaptenor: Breasts are a gland, and glands just lose their shit every now and then. Happens to thyroids all the time. In breast tissue it's Gigantomastia. Besides, as far as evolution is concerned, if it doesn't get you killed before you can breed, it gets a pass. So long as you're around long enough to pass those genes on, it doesn't matter if you have back pain. Fuck, human backs are a mess as it is, they just aren't problematic enough to kill us off before we breed.
posted by Jilder at 10:21 AM on May 27, 2011


Huh. I was the last boy I knew to get breasts.

I was thirteen and had just found out about breast self-examination--which, to my adolescent male brain, sounded incredibly sexy--when I developed gynecomastia, and specifically the kind that forms a hard, sensitive lump right under the nipples. I thought that I had breast cancer, until my pediatrician told me the one little bit of information that is usually left out of the "your body is undergoing some wonderful changes" information.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:51 PM on May 27, 2011


not to guyzone the discussion or anything
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:52 PM on May 27, 2011


Mooseli- How do you feel about Chantelle? They have stores across France, their bras are widely available online, and I think they go up to H.

I got one of my absolute favorite bras from them, and am hoping to get a few more in the same style. That said, as a smaller member of the big boob club (30-32 D-DD), I don't have the "hey, let's just replace this awesome lace with a big chunk of foam, that's cool, right?" problem.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:38 PM on May 27, 2011


Once upon a time I was 6'4" and 175, soaking wet, and people used to constantly ask me "Are you anorexic?"

Yeah. My 6'3", 155 lb. boyfriend gets around it by wearing slightly baggy jeans with twenty tons of crap in the pockets. One time when we went through an airport, we spent our time in the long security line counting his change—came out to about $12. Fills his legs right out, and makes him a lot of fun at an arcade.

I do not know how I came to be the small roundish friend of so many tall skinny people, but it's definitely given me an appreciation for the grass-is-always-greener thing. I don't get to look like a runway model, and I am still trying to figure out how and where to buy shirts, but I do get to sit on a bench without it hurting (I had no idea), or hold a conversation at a bar without slowly developing a hunchback.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:03 PM on May 27, 2011


I went to fairly civilized schools as a kid, so I didn't have as rough a time as lots of people here, but I was pretty much the first in my class to pop, too, and I felt white-hot embarrassment about it for years. Decades, maybe.

I only went through the real-bra-size revelation in the last couple of years -- guess what, I'm a 32H or 34G in UK sizes (North Americans need to know their UK size so they can buy pretty bras affordably on eBay) -- and yeah, it's life-changing. I even breathe differently now.

Also agree with 26.2 (with that username, she should know) about the Freya's sports bra. It kept me happy for 8 miles a couple of weekends ago!
posted by tangerine at 2:53 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I've been groped, a lot, mostly by people who think feeling me up is hilarious and “ironic” and not at all invasive or abusive.

Holy fuck. You cannot assault someone ironically. Jesus.
posted by Decani at 4:11 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was thirteen and had just found out about breast self-examination--which, to my adolescent male brain, sounded incredibly sexy--when I developed gynecomastia, and specifically the kind that forms a hard, sensitive lump right under the nipples. I thought that I had breast cancer, until my pediatrician told me the one little bit of information that is usually left out of the "your body is undergoing some wonderful changes" information.
posted by Halloween Jack


Ah, A mate of mine had that when we were young teens. I trust you didn't miss that I was making a rather forced joke with my comment, though. :-)
posted by Decani at 4:13 PM on May 27, 2011


Thanks for the links to bra places. I'm a 34G, and the bras I bought at Zoe & Co in New Hampshire (where I was fitted by a young, hip, totally unembarrassed twentysomething) are starting to lose their zing, despite my loving care. I wish there were someplace like it in Nashville.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:49 PM on May 27, 2011


emjaybee said: "Try paying 50.00 for one (one!) good bra"

Where are you, and the article's author, getting $50 bras?! I am pretty sure mine are all $75 at least, even in person.
posted by librarina at 1:33 PM on May 29, 2011


Once upon a time I was 6'4" and 175, soaking wet, and people used to constantly ask me "Are you anorexic?"

...

Yeah. My 6'3", 155 lb. boyfriend gets around it by wearing slightly baggy jeans with twenty tons of crap in the pockets. One time when we went through an airport, we spent our time in the long security line counting his change—came out to about $12. Fills his legs right out, and makes him a lot of fun at an arcade.


When I graduated high school, I was 6'2, 135 lbs. I drunkenly shaved my head during frosh week at university, for points in the scavenger hunt one night, and when I went back home for my high school commencement, the number of comments I got asking me "why do [i] look like an Auschwitz survivor?" was astounding. I ate roughly 3500 calories a day, and that was just enough to MAINTAIN my body weight at that age. Nothing I could do about it. But people still felt free to comment about it regularly. Thankfully my metabolism has slowed down, and I'm hovering at a much more normal-looking (if still skinny) 185 lbs.

Reading this woman's story, I still can't believe that people actually do the shit that they do to large breasted women. I'll admit that I still catch myself unconsciously staring at large breasted women showing off large amounts of cleavage, and when I catch myself, I stop myself and am genuinely embarrassed... But the people that feel free to grope, make comments, cat call, etc? These are people whose worldview I do not get.
posted by antifuse at 1:32 PM on May 31, 2011


Man, reading this article was about as cathartic as anything can get for me. I got a MeFi account today just so I could add my voice here, although have been wanting to for a long time.

I share (shared) the author's experience in so many ways it's hard to remember them all. From the girl named Erica (no shit), to being strangely comfortable being "noticeable", to dating older men for awhile, to discovering that the Rules about fashion are not always correct, etc. All of it.

FWIW, a lot of the unsolicited groping really has come from women. It's surprising. I've had women friends do it and be taken aback that I felt violated. "What?" They say. "I'm a girl, too!" I realize that some people are "fascinated" and do those kinds of things because they "just love the female form and just think they're so great I can't help but reach out and grab" (this was an explanation offered by one of the women who have groped me), and to her I say: fuck that. Keep your damn hands to yourself.

One particularly poignant line from the article, for me, was "There are a lot of people in the world who view breasts as public property, only tenuously related to the person they're attached to." And I think this pretty well describes the behavior above.

Also, agree about not jogging. I definitely don't make excuses for myself, but exercising really is harder. Running is a hilarious joke to me. And when I tell people that, they really think I'm not either (A) afraid of exercising or (B) just haven't found the right sports bra yet. Or they say that if I work out more, they'll get smaller. I know this happens for many (even most?) people, but I lost about 50 pounds a year ago, and cup size and band are still the same.

Oh, I'm a 38F - sometimes 38G - BTW. I laugh at DD. I was a DD when I was 14. So yeah, even if there are sports bras that go up to DD, there are still plenty of pairs of boobies that won't work for that.

That being said, I do get exercise. I'm not too overweight (165), but yes, there's still work to do. But I work my ass off, and am making progress. Not having good support really puts a damper on things, though.

Also, agree with whoever else was scoffing at $50 bras - the last one I got was $85. And it is ugly as sin, but fits great. I'll be checking some of the lingerie sites recommended here.
posted by Kittenz at 3:03 PM on June 3, 2011


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